The War on the Western Front Essay Sample

The War on the Western Front Pages
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1. Source A and B both have advantages and disadvantages. Source A discusses many valid and different points to B and B always shows valid and different points. Artillery is shown in photograph B to destroy the enemies’ defences, so the attacker can advance and take the enemies fortification or trench, but the picture looks suspicious because there is a British soldier is standing over the remains of a German machine gun post and that would be unlikely in September 1916 and probably propaganda for current battle The Somme which ended in a stalemate and the trench also looks suspicious because a lot of German trenches were concrete and very advanced, but this particular trench is wooden and primitive.

Source A explains what British soldiers were told and then explains the harsh reality that Artillery was not as affective as people were led to believe and this led to a slaughter. Many shared this view of Historian Craig Mair such as Private Coppard (survivor of the Somme) ” Any Tommy could have told them that shell fire lifts wire up and drops it… in a worse tangle than before”. Source A therefore is more effective than he is led to believe because after 63 years the evidence can be gathered to give less blinkered viewpoint from variety of people opinions as he can puts them together to get aureate and consistent series of events. I feel that source A is more useful due to the opinion of Craig Mair being similar to most historians and soldiers opinion’s that bombardment tactics didn’t do their task in most places, but again source B is also reliable that a German machine gun posts and other defences could be destroyed by bombardment and be effective and have a big part in the WW1, but was a exception.

2. Source C is aureate to most views from front line officers and soldiers. The poem itself is indirect in some parts, but also has key points which are bitter such as “most ’em dead,” and “And were cursing his staff for his incompetent swine”. The indirectness throughout it is because of the High Command would do something horrible to him if he was blunt and direct. It coincides with the general feeling of front soldiers. Lieutenant J.A. Raws said, “murdered through the stupidity of those in authority” about his friends who had been killed. The author of the poem was a soldier called Siegfried Sassoon who had first hand experience of the brutality of trench warfare. Another example of anger among the ranks in the French army when there was a rebellion in which the current Field Marshal was sacked.

At the time even though most hated High Command, the poem describes a group who were too simple and innocent to know any better as says “He’s a cheery old card” about the General, as soldiers were led, and that war was heroic, honourable etc. because of propaganda, censorship and high command’s casual manner could be deceptive, Sassoon even touches upon the High Command heartless behaviour when he says “Now the soldiers he smiled at most ’em dead”. The last line is wrote in such a way that he insinuates the death was the General’s fault because if put bluntly that because of their tactics, he would get court marshalled. Therefore source C gives a aureate impression of their Commanders in most opinions, but it would be unwise to say all felt that way, though I could say a very small minority thought the opposite.

3. The interpretations of sources D and E are different because the aspects of Haig being discussed are different from each other as E covers his personality when it describes his achievements it says, “The cost of victory was appalling, but… must be judged a success”. D concentrated on suffering and his faults at the Somme and Passchendaele, which is because it’s from a book called Great battles of World War 1. E justifies him by saying “He did push the most powerful army in the world off French soil,” and “People criticise…they do not offer other methods,” this is greatly different from D, because D is one sided and does not even look at the other side’s argument when it says his ” inability to recognise defeat,” which makes the statement sound factual rather than opinion.

4. People think it has no use because there’s people standing above the trenches smiling, its clean, tidy and safe and there’s no dead bodies or barbwire. The irony the poster is that they not allowed to smoke in the trenches. Therefore this advert was not aimed at the soldiers because it would be advertising, so the poster would have to aimed at the people in Britain, this therefore leads us to the question of why were the trenches so positively represented, I know from my own knowledge that the trenches were shown that way as people were not allowed to see the reality because the government censored it.

The Government wouldn’t allow the real western front because of two reasons that it would discourage young men from joining the army if the reality was known, this with their tactics of attrition would mean men shortages and that would affect our war effort. The other reason was if public were allowed to know the reality they would scare people and people would be panicking because relatives, loved ones or friends have gone to war and they would of tried to stop the war to save them, or morale would go down trying to win the war would stop being the aim and instead to survive would be, followed by doubt and worry and our exit from the war would be quick because of pressure on the Government, which the Government didn’t want.

5. Source H has much strength as a source, even though it also has many weaknesses as an interpretation of the war on the Western Front. Source H is a Television program called “The Monocled Mutineer”. “The Monocled Mutineer” is based loosely on events about Percy Topliss during World War 1. Alan Bleasedale wrote “The Monocled Mutineer” he is a famous writer of drama, mostly from the ordinary working class people point of view. We call such a writer, a socialist writer. This means that source H maybe biased in some parts. The strengths of source H are that the trenches and the environments are almost the same as WW1. The trenches echo with constant shell explosions, mist due to shells, which have made clouds making it hard to see. The trenches were filled with sludgy mud and the wet mud was everywhere. The trenches were as high as a tall man to protect the men and two men wide. Explosions hit the ground everywhere around them, even as close as a few yards away. Constant sounds of screams and shouted orders echoed above everyone.

Dead lay untended left there by other soldiers unable to clear them. Sandbags are piled up each side to strengthen and heighten the trenches. No mans land made realistic with barbwire strewn across it and shell craters and no sign of plant life caused by bombardment. The costumes worn by actors were very close to the authentic uniform worn by soldiers. The gas masks looked identical to the real gas masks. The soldiers themselves looked real as they were covered in mud, as the real soldiers would have been, weeks without a bath. The clothes were worn, as you would expect if you hadn’t washed for weeks, your clothes wouldn’t have been washed for months. The dialogue between the privates is very close to the way it was. As many would joke and laugh, this is because faced with a thing like WW1, soldiers formed a black humour known as Gallows humour. The Privates desperately avoided talking about the war and whenever it came up they’d joke about it, like when were writing letters home to put down as a joke one said ” war is a bugger mum,” If it is brought up seriously the private’s faces would change instantly to a frown.

The reaction of the soldiers during battle and the slaughter in which the General put them through is shown vividly. The widespread panic, some are organised, while others have not a clue. The soldiers line up on the parapet ready for going over the top. People are sick from fear and others are sick cause of the gas. The soldiers are lined up and secure their bayonets looking demoralised, as if they were zombies. Then they rush onto no mans land stumbling over the shrapnel into the line of fire which mows them down. When suddenly the offensive is known to be a failure the Generals have sent more over, to the disgust of one soldier, who says “The fools, why they sending more over!” but I know background knowledge that this was the normal practise of Generals on each side.

The source also suffer from a few weaknesses such as we see food been rationed, but rations were not introduced into the army till WW2. Also where Percy is being told off for stealing beer would not of been an offence, but beer would be encouraged. The biggest weakness is the relationship between the Officers on front line and the private who were mostly very close and had lots of respect for each other, while in the film showed a very sarcastic corporal, who had it in for his men. This because Alan Bleasedale believed the soldier were the ones with good ideas and ignored by the authorities this is because he is socialist minded. Even though the trenches, sounds, no mans land, costume, dialogue between privates and the actions of Generals were the many strengths, you can’t say this is a perfect interpretation of war because it had many weaknesses such as relationship between soldier and officer were in aureate, rationing didn’t happen and beer was encouraged

6. In source A it helps you understand why the WW1 lasted so long by explaining that artillery was a failure, which was an attacking weapon, was useless against enemy barbwire and enemy defence. Source A explains even when artillery was a failure the soldiers would be told it was done successfully. In source B it helps you understand why the great war lasted so long by the way the propaganda was used to recruit soldiers and to increase morale by making it look like were winning. In source C the poem says the General was an “incompetent swine” which means he can’t do his job well therefore would be referring to the appalling losses I cross-referenced with the other sources. “The soldiers he smiled at… most ’em dead” refers to the strategy of attrition which gave the Generals their reputation of been heartless. “He’s a cheery old card”, I felt was referring to nave soldiers who were fooled by propaganda and blind see through censorship. The source could be exaggerated, as the poet Siegfried Sassoon was a front line officer, he very anti war.

Source D is useful at helping understand why the war lasted so long as it describes the character of Haig as ambitious which explains his large scale attack on the Somme as he thought he could get a big victory and help the French. The source continues explaining how he thought he was pre-ordained by God, which led to his inability to realise defeat that caused him to make more mistakes like at Passchendaele and this led to a longer war. Source E is useful at helping understand why WW1 lasted so long as it described attrition, which was used by all sides all, wearing each other down slowly.

This was because General unable to think of effective ways to break the stalemate Source F is useful at helping explain why the lasted so long because it helped recruit people by selling the war and not just cigarettes, the success of the recruitment drive allowed for enough men to continue attrition tactics and so the war lasts longer. Source G is useful at explaining why the war lasted so long because the bad conditions, which caused trench foot etc., also lowered morale and hampered soldiers who fought. Source H shows that the war lasted so long because the men in authority were incompetent because they sent out more soldiers when the war was obviously lost. The sources only helps you understand why WW1lasted so long, but I think the sources are not detailed enough to make you fully understand why the war lasting so long.

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