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Trench warfare was a viscous and violent way to fight a war. In World
War 1 there were over 600 kilometres of trenches that separated East
and West Europe between Belgium and France. They were started by the
Germans who dug them for protection after their defeat at Marne by
Britain and France. Both sides kept on digging and digging their
trenches to stop the other side form outflanking them. The trenches
grew and the western front was formed. This place is where the most
horrific battles occurred in the First World War. The trenches became
soldier's homes as well as their protection.
This essay is going to look at many sources form many different places
and will try to answer the question "Did the Soldiers Themselves, Give
a more Accurate Picture of Trench Life than Official Accounts?" It is
my hope that by the end of the essay I will be able to come to an
accurate answer to this question by using sources I have studied.
In section A the sources are mainly from history textbooks of the 20th
Century. I will first look at these sources because they should be
accurate and reliable, they should be able to provide reliable
information for me to base the other sources on. I will compare and
contrast the sources form section A to other sources to help me get a
more balanced, accurate view.
Section B includes the official accounts of the war. These include
photos, painting and adverts. From these sources I should be able to
get an accurate view of what the war was portrayed to be like by
officials. When looking at these sources I must be careful that they
are not biased or inaccurate. I will also be able to compare these
sources to other sources I have already looked at.
In section C the sources are the soldiers accounts of life in the
trenches. I think many of these sources will be exaggerated so I must
acknowledge that when I study these sources.
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letters, photos and diary extracts. I should be able to compare and
contrast these sources to other sources to give me a more reliable
The final section, section D includes poems and paintings that show
life in the trenches. These sources could prove to be very useful but
I must be careful that they may be biased or exaggerated. These
sources will be able to back up or disprove other sources.
In the conclusion to my essay I am going to bring everything together
and try to sum it all up. To do this I need to look at what I have
written carefully and come to a sensible, non-biased conclusion. The
judgement in the conclusion will be based on other sources and my own
In this source I am going to look mainly at sources taken from 20th
century textbooks and study them very carefully. After discussing the
reliability and usefulness of these sources I will be able to compare
them to other sources and possibly make contradictions to other
The first source I am going to look at is A1, this source describes
how the use of trenches in warfare came about. It says how Britain and
France won an important battle at Marne at then built trenches for
protection. It describes how war came to a point of stalemate and
neither side were able to get past the others defences. A good term
that is used to describe the war that this source describes is a 'War
of Attrition'. This means wearing down. It explains how each side had
to wait for the other side to grow tired and become weak until they
gain an advantage.
This source is likely to be very accurate because it is from a 20th
Century textbook. This means that it is likely for the writer to have
researched the topic and based his work on many primary sources.
Because of this I know that the information in it is likely to be true
and accurate. Also, I know that the events described in this source
were true. This means that they are less likely to be inaccurate
because I know that I have seen this information in another source in
the past. Something else, which makes this source reliable, is the
fact that it doesn't include anyone's personal view on the event. It
is taken from facts and it means that it is unlikely to be biased.
This source can be seen as useful for many reasons. Firstly, it
includes information about one of the important victories over the
Germans by Britain and France at Marne. It explains reliable facts
like the positions of trenches and how they were used. One reason this
source is useful is because it describes what trenches meant for
warfare. It says that hand-to-hand combat was no longer necessary and
guns were used a lot more. It gives us information on how they were
able to attack the trenches and also says about the stalemate that
This source is less useful because of the information it doesn't
mention. The source doesn't mention what it was like for soldiers in
the war and only gives a basic outline of trench warfare and how
different methods were employed. Also, the information it does give us
can be seen as very vague, it doesn't go into a lot of detail on what
other methods of what warfare was used and how the sides were able to
come out of the stalemate position.
One thing, which makes this source more useful, is the map that is
included with the text. This map shows where the trenches ran and how
big they were. This helps the source to be understood and makes it
more accurate as we can see clearly where the trenches were situated.
Because this source doesn't give us a view on what trench life was
like we are unable to compare it to sources to see how good it is in
showing us what trench life was like. However, this source is still
accurate and gives us a lot of background information on trenches and
how they were used. This could give us vital information when we look
at other sources because it will help us to understand what they might
be talking about.
The second source I am going to look at in section A is source A2.
This source is a very short extract from 'Death's Men' by Denis
Winter. The source describes what sanitation was like in the war for
the soldiers. Its says they had very poor facilities and would rather
use No Man's Land for the disposal of waste. This implies that the
facilities that were supplied for the soldier were very poor. It also
says that two gallons of water was used to wash up to forty men. This
also suggests that their hygiene was very poor and they were often
This source is probably reliable because it was written by an
historian years after the event. This probably means that he has no
reason to change any of the facts he has researched and is likely to
write the information as truthfully as possible. Also, he would have
collected all the information from other, primary sources and this
source is likely to be written based on these more accurate sources.
However, the sources he got his information from have an effect on how
accurate and reliable this source is. Because of the content of the
source it is likely that he based his ideas on information that the
soldiers themselves wrote so maybe the information might be slightly
exaggerated. If this were true the information that the historian
wrote would be less reliable. However, this does not make it any less
This source can be seen useful for many reasons. If the information in
this source was gathered from soldier's accounts of the war it is
useful in showing how bitter the soldiers must have felt due to the
poor conditions they were given. If we take this source to be more
accurate then it is useful in showing us what it was actually like for
the soldiers. From this source we can learn that soldiers had very
poor hygiene conditions and were often very dirty.
Because an historian writes this source we can assume that he has
researched the information in it and has based his ideas on these
sources. Because of this the source is likely to be very accurate.
This could not be true if the historian only looked at sources that
showed one side of the viewpoint because this would mean that the
information in the source is one sided and therefore inaccurate.
This source is a useful source and can become of more use if we
compare and contrast it to other sources. The first source I am going
to contrast it to is source B4. This source is a picture of
Australians in a front line trench. This source directly contradicts
the source A2. The source shows men sat down in shorts cooking some
food in a pan. The people in this source look very clean and tidy and
their trench is also tidy. This source is implying that men in the
trenches didn't have such a bad time and that they had good food and
This source is reliable because it is primary evidence and it is a
photo, this would mean that what it shows actually happened. However,
the reliability of this source is brought into question because it
might be set up or staged for government purposes. If this were true
the source would not show an accurate portrayal of life in the
trenches and would therefore be inaccurate and unreliable.
This source is still useful. This is because it might still show what
it was like for men in some parts of the front line. We do not know
where this photo was taken and because of that we do not know how
accurate it could be. This photo might have been taken in a very quiet
part of the trenches and because of that it might show exactly what it
was like in that pert of the trenches. This would make the source
reliable in showing us that not all parts of the trenches were as bad
as some sources might show.
Also, this photo might have been taken at a very quiet time in the
war. This means that this source is useful in showing how the war can
very but doesn't show an accurate picture of what the war was like in
general. This source is useful in a way that we can only se by looking
at the provenance to the source. It says that the men in the photo are
Australian, this is a useful piece of information because it tells us
that Australia (which was part of the Commonwealth) also fought in the
From looking at sources B4 and A2 together we can see that the
conditions in the war varied. Sometimes the men were very dirty and
unhygienic but, as shown in B4, there were times or places in the
trenches that men had cleaner clothes and better food.
Source B3 could be used in conjunction with B6 to help us further
understand what the food situation was like in the war. B6 gives a
list of the food that each soldier were given per day. From the list
given we can see that the soldiers were given quite a lot of food for
one day and their food included bully beef, bread, bacon and lots of
other things like tea and jam. This source agrees with what we have
seen in source B4 but it contradicts source A2. This source is saying
that soldiers would have had enough food to eat and that it was quite
good food as well.
This source is from section B so we know that it an official account
of what it was like in the trenches, because of this we must take it
into consideration that the source could have been set up to give
people at home the impression that men at the trenches were treated a
lot better than they actually were. This source is useful in showing
us what the government wanted people to think about conditions in the
war. If the source is true we know that men at the trenches might have
actually received this amount of food. Sources that say men in the
trenches have very little food obviously disagree with this source,
but I can use my own knowledge to understand a reasonable explanation
for this. I know that many supplies were intercepted and stolen by the
enemy, this would mean that not all the food that was sent out by the
government got to the front line. This could explain why the
government say they gave out a lot more food than the soldiers claimed
This source is likely to be accurate because it seems to have very
concise measurements of the food given to the soldiers. Because of
this it is unlikely that the amounts were made up or changed. On the
other hand it is possible that these figures were made up so people
would think that men at the front would get a lot more food than they
actually did. This would make it more likely that they would help in
the war effort so I know that this is very likely to have happened.
This source might only be true for some parts of the trenches. This
would mean that the source is only useful in showing us how some of
the soldiers ate in the war. It could not be applied to all soldiers
because I know that it is unlikely that every soldier in the war would
get this much food each day.
The next source I am going to look at is source A3. This source shows
us two sides of what it was like in the trenches. It explains how in
some part of the trenches there was very little fighting and soldiers
had to think of other things to do. However, it also shows us that in
parts of the trenches where there was a lot of fighting and the men
had lots to do.
Denis Winter who is the same person to write source A2 wrote the
source. From this information alone we can conclude that the source is
likely to be reliable because he is a historian who is experienced in
writing about the war. Because of this we know that he would have
researched the topic quite a lot and would know what he is writing
about. The information in this source is likely to have come from
other sources, probably primary and will be a fair, accurate
conclusion to these sources.
Because this source is balanced and gives us more than one view of
living in the trenches it can be seen as very useful. This is because
it gives us a wider view of what it was like. The source does not only
say that soldiers who were in a quiet part of the trenches had to
write letters and keep diaries etc. it also says that soldiers in
parts of the trenches who were involved with fighting were under
constant shell fire and bombardment. Because of this we can also
assume that the source is very reliable because the historian doesn't
seem to be giving his own viewpoint or any other biased view.
This source also includes a small photo to back up what it is saying.
The photo shows a soldier in seemingly harsh conditions and backs up
part of what the source is saying. Because of this the source could be
more accurate and be relied on more.
This source could be contrasted or compared with many other sources.
Parts of it agree with the message given in source B4 but the rest
disagrees with this source. Because source A3 is so balanced and gives
a reliable overview of life in the trenches I think it is a very
One very important aspect of trench life that I feel I must look at is
the routines that soldiers carried out in the trenches. This part of
trench life is shown very well in source A6. This source is quite a
large extract form a textbook and is titled 'Life in the Trenches:
Routine'. Because of the title we know that the majority of the
information in the source will be based on routines in the trenches.
This source is useful in showing us how soldiers spent there time in
the war. I think this is good information because it tells us that
soldiers spent different amounts of time in other trenches and resting
whereas before it could be assumed that every soldier stayed in the
same trenches and had very little break. This information is made more
accurate because the same information is given in sourceA3 so we can
see that these two sources agree with one another.
This source is only useful for us with the information that it
provides and is detailed in. This source says a lot about where the
soldiers spent their time and their day-to-day chores but it doesn't
go into a lot of detail about what they did. Because of this it might
be seen as not entirely useful. This source also gives us information
on censorship in the war and gifts to the soldiers. This information
makes the source slightly useful in giving us more information but
because it doesn't go into as much detail in these points it cant be
as useful for this information.
From looking at this source it seems to be very accurate. It goes into
quite a lot of detail for each of the pieces of information it gives
us and tries to expand to give a fuller picture. This source is
unlikely to be entirely accurate though. I can pick this up in two
points of the source where it says that everybody ate breakfast and an
evening meal. This statement could be seen as very true according to
some other sources that say soldiers had good food e.g. B6 and B4 but
other sources would disagree with what this says and says the food was
poor and scarce.
I think this source is reliable because a historian who would have
researched his information and based his ideas on primary evidence
writes it. Because of this the source is likely to be balanced and
have an unbiased viewpoint.
From the sources in section A we can get quite a good idea of what it
must have been like for soldiers living in the war. By comparing and
contrasting these sources to sources in sections B it has given me a
more balanced view. To further find out the truth of what it was like
in the trenches I must compare sources form sections B and C. This
should help me see if soldiers gave a more accurate view of trench
life than official accounts or not.
In section B the sources consist of official accounts about life in
the trenches. I think these sources are likely to be one sided and
might try to tone down the misery and pain that occurred in the
trenches. This is because the government would not like the war to
seem as bad as it actually was so they censored it down. We already
know they did this from previous sources that say the government
edited some letters to give the right impression to people at home.
The first source I will be looking at in section B is source B1. This
source is a painting that is titled 'An Advanced Dressing Station at
the Front'. A man called Henry Tonks who was an official war artist
painted it. This means that he was likely to have drawn what the
government wanted him to draw rather than what was actually there.
The painting shows many injured people being treated at a dressing
station. It seems to be very graphic showing people with broken limbs,
there seems to be a lot of misery in the painting. When looking at
this source I have to think about why it was painted. Was it to show
good medical facilities or to show the injuries people endured in the
war? The reason for this source being painted depends on how useful
the source is and the reasons the source is useful.
If the painting was painted to show good medical facilities I think it
is likely to have been sanitised or censored to make things look like
they're all under control when in reality they weren't. For this
reason this source will be useful in showing us ways in which the
government decided to censor things that happened in the war or to
give people false pretences of life in the trenches. The source would
not be useful in showing us the medical facilities in the war because
the facts would have been changed to give a more acceptable reality.
I think that if the aim of this painting were to show injuries in the
war it would be extremely reliable and accurate. This is because the
painter would try to make the painting as truthful as possible.
Because of this I think he would have tried to make the source as
truthful as possible so we can be sure that it is very accurate.
I think this source is reliable because it is primary evidence and the
artist would have been there so he would have had a first hand
experience of the war. Also, he was originally a war surgeon so he
would be very experienced in injuries and the atmosphere of this
I think this source has definitely been censored to hide the true
horrific facts of the war but at the same time I know that there is
likely to be some truth in the source because of its content. By
looking at the source I can see that it includes some very graphic
details but because of the nature of these injuries I think that there
should be more horrific injuries.
In the war the government used many techniques to try to enlist new
soldiers. A source, which shows one of the methods used, is source B5.
It is an advertisement in 'The Times' on April 15, 1915. This source
claims it is an extract of a letter from the trenches but I think this
is brought into serious question. In my opinion it is really a piece
of propaganda used by the government to get more soldiers for the war.
The source contains lots of information that gives me this idea.
It uses techniques that I know the government used, these include
using words like 'I' and 'We'. This brings the reader into the advert
and aims it directly at them. Also, the source includes jingoism,
which is likely to stir up hatred of the Germans and persuade people
to recruit more. I think the fact that the source claims the soldiers
are all 'fit as fiddles' also implies that it is propaganda because
this is unlikely to be entirely true.
The source is useful in showing us the ways the government could make
people see what they wanted them to see. From looking at it now we
know that it is extremely likely to be propaganda but people reading
it at the time might have believed it. Because it is primary evidence
I know that it was around at the time of the event that makes it even
more reliable as we know it was used.
The source could be less useful because we do not know how people
reacted to the advert, we don't know whether they responded to it in
the desired way or not. I think it also less reliable as we do not
know how much the government had to do with this source. Maybe it was
a real letter that they changed or they could have made it up
This source isn't very accurate because of the purpose of it. It is
propaganda so some facts are false. An example of this is when it says
'it's not so bad out here'. This is severely contradicting what other
sources are saying, especially some sources from section C that we
know are soldiers accounts of the events. One source that disagrees
with this source is source C7.
C7 is an extract from a soldiers memoirs. This source describes the
discomforts and misery in trenches felt by infantry soldiers. From the
feeling we get from this source we can already see that it is opposite
to what B5 says.
Because the source is primary evidence it can be very accurate. The
soldier who wrote the source knows what he is talking about because he
was in the same place at the same time of the events he describes.
However, the accuracy might be brought into question because the
writer may have over exaggerated the events to glorify what it was
like in the war.
I think this source is reliable because it seems to be the true
feelings of the writer so we can assume that he is being as truthful
as possible. Because the events might be glorified the reliability is
questioned. The source is only reliable if the writer is being
truthful. Because of other sources that describe misery in the
trenches I think this source is likely to be truthful and therefore
This source is useful in showing us the overall feeling that the men
felt in the trenches. The writer also describes how others may have
felt so it is not just the views of one man. This would make the
source more useful as we are given the views of more than one
individual. The source is less useful if you take into consideration
the fact that the sources information is limited. The source does not
describe why the men were so unhappy but I can pick this information
up form other sources.
Overall, this source gives a summery of the soldier's feelings in the
war. It disagrees with sources in section B like B4 and B5. I think
this source is useful as it gives us personal feelings but it only
shows one side of the story.
Adverts for things like cigarettes and alcohol also helped the
government portray a false image of the war. They did this using
pictures and words to give the wrong impression of life in the
trenches. An example of how they did this is in source B8. This source
is a cigarette advert released during the war and is obviously
Although this source is just an advert it could still be very reliable
in showing us how the government were able to get their view across.
The avert shows a man looking over the top of the trench. He looks
very eager and relaxed. I know this would never have happened because
he would have been shot.
This source is not very reliable because it gives us information that
is definitely wrong and incorrect. If we take it as just an advert it
is reliable only in showing us that propaganda was used a lot during
The source is also definitely not accurate. The men are clean and tidy
and as we know for other sources they were more likely to have been
dirty and covered in mud and dirt.
The source can be useful because it shows us what things were like in
the war. It shows that everything was geared to give the right
impression of the war, whether it was true or not. The impression this
advert gives us of the war is extremely different from the impression
we get from other sources. A source that disagrees with B8 is source
Source D6 is a poem that describes how miserable and scared the
soldiers were during the war. This source gives a very different
impression that that given in B8. I think this source is reliable
because it is a poem and lots of people like to portray their true
feelings through poems. Because of this the poem is likely to be very
truthful although some facts might have been exaggerated to make the
poem more exciting to the readers.
This poem is useful because it gives us the psychological sides of the
war. This helps us understand how people reacted to different things
in the war and how they truly felt about it.
Because this source is a poem it doesn't give us any definite facts so
for this reason it is less reliable and also less useful to us as
factual information. Overall I think this source is useful as it gives
us views that we would not get from other sources.
I think this source is likely to be accurate because of the
seriousness of it. The poet is trying to get across a very serious
viewpoint so he includes truthful information to help him do this.
From the sources in section B we get the impression that the war was
not as bad as other sources make out. We see this by comparing them to
sources from other sections and this helps us see a great contrast to
what they are saying. In my opinion the sources form section B cannot
be entirely trusted as they are the views that the government wanted
the public to have and might contain very little truth.
In order to get a more accurate and balanced view of life in the
trenches we must look at sources form section C and D. By comparing
and contrasting these sources it will help me understand what it was
really like in the trenches during the war. The sources in section C
are all soldiers' accounts of trench life. For this reason I think
they may be slightly exaggerated to glorify the events.
The first source I will be looking at in section C is source C2. This
source is a soldier talking about de-lousing himself. The source
sounds very exaggerated and over the top, I think this is because the
author has tried to make things sound worse than they actually were to
try and turn him into more of a hero than he actually was. I think
soldiers might have done this to many of their stories because they
didn't get as much gratitude for the war as they would have liked.
The reliability of this source is limited because of the exaggerated
facts although I'm sure there is some truth in it. I think it could be
considered reliable because a person who experienced the events wrote
it and it is primary evidence. However, not all of it is likely to be
true so we have to look at what parts might be exaggerated. For
example, the part where he says some popped onto his face is unlikely
but it might still be true. For this reason I think this source is
reliable but it might still contain incorrect information.
This source is useful because it helps us to understand how disgusting
it might have been for those living in trenches. It tells us that the
clothes were infested with lice. Although this was probably true I
doubt it was as bad as the man described it to be in the source. This
sources usefulness is limited because it only talks about one thing.
It doesn't explain what the overall cleanliness was like in the
trenches, only the lice. Because of this it is only useful in giving
us one side of the story. As far as we know from this source every
other aspect of the trenches were clean. This however is also unlike
to be true because I know from other sources that the hygiene in
trenches was very low.
This source is unlikely to be very accurate because it looks as though
many aspects of it are exaggerated. However, there is likely to be
some accuracy in it because I doubt all the information would have
been just made up and the writer would have needed something to base
his ideas on. I think this source is useful for showing how soldiers
are likely to glorify events and also in explaining how dirty it could
get in the trenches.
Trench foot was one of the worst things a soldier could endure in the
war. It was caused by the dampness in the trenches and could cause
extreme pain to anyone who had it. In source C3 a British soldier
describes trench foot and how it affected you. This source also sounds
very exaggerated but as I am not sure exactly how bad trench foot
really was I am not sure if this source is entirely accurate or not.
I think this source is useful because it tells us about the pain and
misery a soldier who had trench foot had to go through. I think this
is useful because it might help me to explain why many soldiers became
bitter and unpatriotic during the war. This source is also useful
because it tells us how trench foot might have affected a soldier. The
source is not useful, however, in telling us how trench foot came
about. This does not matter though because I know the trenches being
wet and the feet of soldiers being constantly wet caused trench foot.
This source is unlikely to be entirely accurate. The parts where the
soldier says that you could stick a bayonet into the feet and not feel
a thing is likely to be exaggerated, also the bit when it is said that
the feet could swell up to two or three times the size of normal. I
think these might again be exaggerated to glorify the events and make
the soldiers sound really courageous and brave. I think most of the
extract is accurate though because I know that trench foot was an
extremely bad thing to get and could be very painful to whoever has
I think this source is very reliable. This is because the person who
wrote it is likely to have experienced the events for himself and
would know what he is talking about. I think this source would be less
reliable because the facts might be slightly exaggerated.
As well as trench foot and lice, there was another enemy in the
trenches. Something that soldiers seemed to hate for than anything
else were rats. In source C9 a soldier describes his hatred for rats
in the trenches. The source is taken form a book in 1976 but it looks
as though it were taken from a diary or something of a soldier in the
I think this source is useful because it describes one of the smaller
problems soldiers had to endure in the war, rats. The source describes
how the soldiers hated the rats but I think there are parts of this
source that are also exaggerated to glorify the events they endured.
This source is not extremely useful in giving us information on trench
life because it is so short and only talks about one small subject to
do with trench life.
This source is reliable because it is the views of a soldier who
really experienced these events and I think he will be talking about
something that affected him a lot. Because the facts are not too
elaborate I think that this source is very close to the truth and it
sound be very possible for the rats to grow fat from feeding on the
dead in no-mans land. Overall, I think this source is very reliable
and is useful to us in seeing what the rat situation was like in the
I think that this source could be accurate because it does not say
anything that is unbelievable and it sticks very much to facts rather
than personal opinion. However, it is still possible that the
information in this source is still exaggerated to make things sound
more extreme. Because of this the source could never be entirely
accurate. Because of this is cannot be entirely reliable either but it
still remains useful because it would show how the soldiers were
affected and how they might make some events more extreme than they
One thing that the soldiers started to feel at the end of the war was
a feeling hatred towards their country. Whereas they used to sing "God
save the King" they now found that they didn't care for King or
country. This is shown in source C11 where private A. Hooper describes
how he felt near the end of the war. I think this source is very
useful because a soldier who was in the war writes it and he is
describing the way he felt.
I think that the feelings he describes could be very true as by the
end of the war many soldiers felt that they could not go on any
longer. This would result in their anger for the country. This source
is useful in showing us how the attitudes of the soldiers had changed
by the end of the war. It describes how they now felt bitterness and
resentment because of the things they had experienced in the war.
Because they were so tired and fed up of the war they seemed not to
care about winning any more, they seemed to just want to go home.
This source could be very accurate because the soldier seems to have
real feelings about the things he is describing. Because of this I
think he is being truthful, also, there is no obvious reason for him
to be lying.
The source seems to be reliable because it is primary evidence and the
person writing it knows what he is talking about. There are no
complicated facts in this source, just a basic viewpoint. There is not
a lot but I think that what is there is very reliable. Because there
is not a lot of information in the source I don't think it is entirely
useful but it can definitely show us that the views of soldiers
changed as the war went on.
I think that this source gives us a very important message that at the
end of the war soldiers weren't as eager as they had been previously.
This is very important because it shows that soldiers were fighting
for something that they obviously didn't believe in. The other side to
this however is that as patriotism was lost, a determination to the
win the war set in. This is described in source B9.
B9 describes how patriotism as hero-worship gave way to a
determination to win the war and beat the Germans. The source is
secondary and is from the Scottish records office. However, we do not
know who wrote this source but the source is still useful to us.
This source is similar to C11 because it describes how patriotism was
lost nearer the end of the war but it says that a will to win the war
replaced it. In C11 it implies that the soldiers lost the will to go
on. These are both very valid views but I think that B9 gives a more
accurate image of how people felt near the end of the war.
This source is useful because it backs up part of what C11 was saying
but gives a different explanation for what the soldiers felt about
still fighting the war. It helps us understand how people lost their
patriotism and how this led them to want to win the war even more so.
Instead of fighting for the country soldiers were now fighting for
more personal reasons.
I think this source is more accurate than C11 because it gives more
information and gives a more reasonable explanation in that people
wanted to still win the war. However, this source is still not
extremely accurate because it we do not know who wrote it. It might
have been someone who was just looking back at other pieces of
evidence. This would mean that they didn't have experience in what
they were talking about so the source would be less accurate.
I think the views C11 and B9 portray are very similar and because of
this I think that the view they give is very accurate and was probably
true. From this I can conclude that as the war went on people lost
their patriotism but they still wanted to win the war. However,
section C seems to give a very different view to those in section B.
The sources in section C seem to be more graphic and make the trenches
sound a lot worse than the sources in section B do. Because of this I
feel that the truth to what the trenches were really like is slightly
less extreme than that described in section C. I still think that the
sources in section B still tried to tone the hard life in the
Now I am going to look at the final section of my essay. Section D
includes poems and painting that portray life in the trenches. These
sources seem to show more personal views of trench life than any other
I have looked at.
The first source I am going to look at in section D is source D2. This
source is a short poem written by Siegfried Sassoon who is a
well-known war poet. It is called 'Suicide in the Trenches'. The
overall feeling you get from this poem is that the poet resented the
war very much, the poem shows a lot of bitterness toward the war. The
poem has three verses, each of them is useful in showing us something
about the war. The first verse describes how happy people were to join
up at the beginning of the war, this is useful in showing us the
enthusiasm of soldiers at the beginning of the war.
The second and third verses describe an event in the war where a young
man kills himself and the aftermath of the war. Because of the theme
of the poem I think that this poem shows great resentment for the war.
The person who wrote it obviously had some very bad experiences in the
war. I think the source is useful because it tells us about things
like suicides that happened in the trenches. It also tells us how
soldiers felt about people at home not knowing what was really going
on in the trenches.
The poem is reliable but only to a certain extent. It shows the views
of someone who was actually on the war but because it is a poem it is
not just trying to show events in the war. The poet obviously wanted
it to be a good poem as well which means he might have made up some
facts or exaggerated them to improve the quality of the poem.
I think this source is likely to be fairly accurate because it
describes an event that could have definitely happened due to the
appalling conditions in the trenches. Because it is a poem some of the
facts would be less accurate to make the poem more exciting. I don't
think this poem is entirely reliable although it is useful in showing
us the resentment soldiers felt about the war.
The next source I am going to look at is another poem written by a
soldier during the war. This poem is another bitter poem that
describes the basic living conditions in the trenches. It is not as
bitter as D2 but still shows us how much the soldiers hated living in
the trenches during the war.
This source is useful because it shows us the overall view that
soldiers had of living in the trenches. It also includes information
like what made the soldiers so uncomfortable in the war. It mentions
the rats and lice that we have already seen as problems in the
trenches in other sources. Because I have seen the information in this
source in other sources I know that the facts are likely to be true
I don't think this source is particularly reliable because although it
is written to show the views of the soldier it is still a poem and is
trying to be a good poem. This means that some of the facts in the
poem would be exaggerated to make the poem sound more exciting and
interesting. On the other hand the poet would want the poem to sound
realistic so he wouldn't have made the facts too extreme.
The sources in section D all seem to portray the same image. They say
that life in the trenches was bad but we still have to take into
consideration that some of the facts might have been exaggerated or
made to sound more extreme than they actually were. Because of this
all the sources in section D might hold false information. However, I
think they are still useful in showing us how the soldiers really felt
about the war.
In conclusion to this essay I have to take many points into
consideration. Firstly, every source might include false information
in order to do its purpose. This happens less in textbook sources
because they are taken form many primary sources and try to give a
balanced accurate view. Sources that are written by the government
seem to give the impression that life in the trenches were not as bad
as the soldiers themselves made out. This is because the government
wants people to think that they looked after the soldiers in the war
when they might not have as well as they would make out.
The soldier's accounts seem to be very graphic and true but we must
take into consideration that they might be trying to glorify the
events they experienced in the war, this is because they would like to
be seen as big heroes so they could receive the gratitude they
probably deserved. Even so, I think much of the facts in these sources
are still true because the soldiers were actually there and they would
know what happened in the trenches more than anyone else.
Overall I think that in order to get a truthful image of life in the
trenches we must look at all available sources. These include
soldier's accounts as well as official accounts and poems and
paintings. If any sources seem to be more accurate than others I think
the soldiers accounts would be more accurate because they were there
and would understand exactly what happened in the war.