A dug-out or dugout, as described in Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, is a “protected place of shelter in the trenches. Also, familiarly, a term not always kindly meant, for elderly officers returning to temporary service. It first came in during the Boer War of 1899-1902, for pensioned or retired officers who came back to service in consequence of the depleting of the active establishment through casualties in the field. In the war hundreds came forward as volunteers and served in every capacity both naval and military, in most cases filling subordinate posts, regardless of former rank.” 
Not to be confused with Dig out.
References / notes
- Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.84.
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