The War On the Western Front Essay Sample

The War On the Western Front Pages
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1.Source A and B are different. A describes how ineffective the use of artillery was at the Somme. The second shows the effect artillery use has made. The photograph was taken in September 1916 most probably at the Somme. As it was the largest and most important battle of that time. To decide how reliable the sources are a number of aspects need to be considered. The purpose, Source A is taken from an educational textbook examining Britain at War. It does not deal directly with the issue of Artillery Bombardment. The writer has probably gathered evidence about artillery bombardment at the Somme and written a generalisation about its effects. It is clear the writer had access to information about bombardment as the piece contains lots of details about the tactics used in artillery bombing.

The photograph shows the successful use of artillery there are also some aspects to consider, why was the picture taken, probably to be used as propaganda to the British people and other soldiers in the battle. It was obviously published or the picture wouldn’t have been taken. It is a prime example of success that the allies needed to boast moral. From my own knowledge the best way to destroy barbed wire placed by the Germans was to use heavy Guns. But unless it was a direct hit it wouldn’t normally destroy it completely. Source B was obviously a direct hit. The tactics used in artillery bombardment must have been the best way to destroy the barbed wire and the most successful or a another way would have had been used. Source A must have been based on many unsuccessful bombardment missions or the source wouldn’t have been written in such a negative way. I consider that neither one sources is more reliable as they were written and taken for different reasons, at different places at times when bombardment was successful and in others it was ineffective.

2.Seigfried Sassoon was a solider in the war until 1914 as he was wounded and sent home. He returned and later he fought at the Battle of the Somme. Sassoon would of met and chatted with many fellow soldiers from all different backgrounds everyday. There must have been an over whelming feeling that commanders were incompetent for Sassoon to write this piece. Other evidence does suggest that the commanders didn’t know what they were doing. Most were raised and fought in the Boer war. Such advanced equipment like guns and tanks hadn’t been developed then and the commanders probably weren’t sure what to do, with this new technology.

As more evidence there is a well-known joke about how the officers were more concerned with filling their cocktail cabinets that were miles behind the allied lines. So Sassoon most probably did base his poem on the bad commanders, as there is enough evidence to suggest they were. But on the other hand Sassoon could of hated one particular commander and have wanted to write the poem to make a particular point. As he was a well-respected writer I don’t think Sassoon would have just written his own views or he wouldn’t of been a respected writer. The feeling of the poem is a generalisation about mostly all the commanders who came up with words for moral but knowing sending their men to their death. As they didn’t know what else to do. There for it can be perceived that this is an accurate representation of the commanders in the trench’s at that time.

3.The two sources are contrasting the first (Source D) is totally against Haig and gives him no praise as a general. The second (Source E) allows him praise but states some of his mistakes. The sources come from different books, which cover different topics. Source D comes from a book about Battles of the First World War. The other source comes from a book biased on Haig. Therefore the book about Haig naturally has more details. The book probably has chapters that in turn deal different parts of Haig’s qualities. The source might have been taken from a section about how good or bad Haig was as a general.

Source D doesn’t deal with Haig directly it is a generalisation of his actions and one particular time. Haig started the battle of the Somme thinking it would be over in a few weeks, but this wasn’t the case. So instead of giving up he carried on using attrition as his main aim to win the battle. Haig didn’t care much about his men I don’t think but winning, advancing the line and pushing the Germans further back. Source D deals with Haig’s emotional qualities and Source E deals with his strategic qualities. So the sources are so different because Haig was victorious at his battles by advancing the line and pushing the German Army Back off French soil. Only to have done this with huge loses to the allied army. Historians can look at his actions and take them both ways. That he was sending troops to be killed to work down the German army or that using attrition he won his battles and was victorious. This is why the interpretations are so different as the historians have looked at Haig both ways.

4.Source F an advertisement. It shows a calm view if trench warfare. From the picture it looks like there isn’t a war going on. Maybe this is because it is not an accurate representation of war on the western front. The advert is at the time of D.O.R.A (Defence of the realm act 1914) this allows the government to censor if needed any images to do with the war. From what isn’t shown in the picture shows the government did censor the advertisement. To raise moral of the British people at home and the soldiers at war. Displaying how good life is, its not boring or difficult to cope with.

The picture is a bad piece of evidence if looked at only to describe warfare if the western front, because the picture only shows selective images. It doesn’t show the opposition, true feeling of soldiers, the affect of trench life, any marks left by German shelling and attacks. These negative parts to warfare have been left out and the positive aspects remain. The advancing army, happy high-spirited soldiers, lots of weapons. The purpose of the advert is mainly to sell cigarettes but because all media is censored the picture was also produced to raise moral of soldiers. Probably to get men to sign up to the army as it looks to be an easy life judging by the images in the advert. The source is good evidence for the government’s use of propaganda at the time and the use of the D.O.R.A act, but little use as evidence about the western front warfare.

5. Source H a video has many strength’s and weaknesses. The main obvious strength is that it uses images and words to tell the story or give the facts. Many would argue that images are better than words. As it shows true images, they help to explain and show what the war was like and accompanied by words give a good view of the western front. The video clip also incorporates text into the programme to illustrate key points and sayings made by the narrator for Lion Led by Donkeys. Music plays an important part as it set’s the mood. It would still be hard to imagine life even with the images on screen without the music. Life in the trench’s was very cold, boring, not very exciting for a solider until he goes over the top. The music played is solemn and deep. The music emphasises the mood in the trench’s. These factor all help to enhance a view of the western front on the emotional side not just factually. Its weaknesses are that it is very short and only shows images from the battle of the Somme not the most successful battle for the British.

It does represent both views of how the battle is going; one soldier describes how inspiring the amount of weapons he sees being unloaded and another speaks how the generals and commanders are out of touch and live miles behind enemy lines. These are balanced views so therefore a strength. But the audience isn’t told the positions, status about these soldiers and has no background on the men. The views of the German soldiers aren’t shown and there is no footage of the German army. Another weakness is that is an emotional piece. Giving opinions of the army but not as many facts about the western front. The footage shows little footage of men fighting and going over the top. Nor does it show the full effects of the attacks. Maybe this is because the video is only seven minutes long so some facts have been missed out and maybe it is only a basic overview of the western front. It is a strong representation of the war on the western front with some weaknesses.

6. The First World War lasted so long because of a number of factors. There was also many small incidents which hindered the allies. The main reason the war lasted so long was the fact that new weapons had been developed, these are new guns, machine guns and stronger heavy guns with more power. These are shown in Source F. Most of the generals at the time and commanders had been raised in the Boer war, for example Field Marshall Haig. This then meant that the senior officers had no idea how to win a mechanized war. Nobody was really sure what tactics to use against them. The British tanks, brought in 1916, during the Somme, failed to make a big impact. Another point the war lasted so long was the fact that the failure of the big offensives e.g. the Somme or Verdun, to break out of the stalemate situation between the two sides by piling in as many men as possible and as much ammunition as possible.

After all of this the offensives rarely gained anything. The war lasted a long time because these battles failed but lasted a long time. As is stated in the footage in Source H. Because the battle of the Somme didn’t end quickly Haig used attrition to ware the other side down. And shown by Source D the fact that Haig couldn’t accept defeat. The Sources do help to show why the war lasted so long. It Sources D,E and F tell of the incompetence of the generals who made mistakes. Sources A and B help to describe and show how it wasn’t always plain sailing when using artillery. And this also slowed up the chances to win the war. Source G explains how terrible life was in the trenches and how low moral was. A soldier who is unwilling and not enthusiastic won’t perform as well as a soldier who is. The sources do help to bring some understanding of why the war lasted so long. Instead of a few month’s it was a few years.

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