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History Coursework - World War One Sources Question

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Introduction

History Coursework - World War One Sources Question 1) Sources A, B and C are war recruitment posters published by various governments with the aim of influencing more people to volunteer for armed service in the war. Sources A and B are an earlier type of source, depending on the patriotic fervour that swept Britain at the war's outset, portraying enlistment as a duty to the country and empire. The posters themselves being of an accusatory nature, demanding from the reader "What did you do in the war?" and that they should "Go!", the fighting taking a crusade-like facade in which the only way to please parents, friends and girls was to join up and head towards the fighting. That this was accepted by many, was partly because the war was seen as an adventure, and perhaps because the last war where there was mass recruitment was almost one hundred years previous, the majority of those fighting in the interlude being well-trained career soldiers. Source C, however, is a much later source, as can be determined from the approach it uses to "persuade" people to enlist, preventing the "mad brute (of) militarism", in this case, a raving gorilla, that represents Germany, from reaching out from Europe (bottom-centre, right) which has been decimated, to the shores of "America" (bottom, centre). The poster compels the reader to joint up for the US army, probably after the USA declared war on Germany, on the 7th April 1917, proving this to be a later source, produced after the war has raged unabated for three years, thus having dispelled the notion of adventure or even perhaps duty. 2) The three posters are very different in the fashion their aims are laid out, nevertheless, there are some similarities between them. The earlier sources provoke Victorian attitudes towards duty, leading to the enrolling of over two million volunteer troops into the British armed services from 1914 - 1916, while source C plays on the moral decency of the reader, calling for a halt to the foul deeds committed by the ape (representing Germany) ...read more.

Middle

The heroism of the East Surries is conveyed by their poses, arms positioned across the face, all wounds having been taken by presenting ones' front to the opposition, backed up by source, G proclaiming that every man from the East Surrey regiment were "gallant", who therefore could not be hit in the back, thus deserving of their "corner of a foreign field" (Brookes' The Soldier). To suggest that that either report is even wildly optimistic, would be a massive understatement, source G reporting that "the Surries' dribbled the four footballs for a mile and a quarter into the enemy trenches", the net gain by the end of November (attack started July 1) was 5 miles deep at the greatest point, and 18 miles wide. Advance on July 1st however was just "a mile deep and three and a half miles wide" (official Dispatch to Haig). Source H contrasts with the other strongly patriotic, pro-war pieces, it ironically giving some humour, in a sick sense, clashing source G's "the game" (i.e. team sports e.g. rugby) with the actual feelings of the soldier towards playing as a team "My plan was to walk alone... not get bunched up with the others" and when the advance had taken place, the position taken, though in insufficient strength to hold it, the 'gallant' soldier "ran for it." Indeed, this merely proves what one can already guess; these are real people not 'heroes' while he also tongue-lashes the political commentaries produced at the time (sources F and G) exclaiming that the actual attack on July 1st was made by "overladen porters" this being borne out by the massive equipment lists that the soldier carried as well as his rifle and ammunition. B.A. Steward also talks how these 'gallant heroes' had "turned and shot... two frightened and unarmed Germans." It is very clear that this piece is later, which indeed it is, as such candid speech at the time, many families having lost relations, would have been frowned on. ...read more.

Conclusion

Due to the nature of the conflict, many of those who took part would have painful memories and would thus probably not relish the prospect of speaking about a truly terrible time in their lives: that the memories are still painful today show the depth of anguish felt by the majority, shown most poignantly by Owen and Sassoon in some of their poetry which we cannot even begin to comprehend. A historian writing at the time may well not be so critical of the government, as they had, after all, won the war, after four years slogging through mud to their necks. They may well have swallowed the lies and deceptions written by the government to cover the reality and truth, and would probably be quite proud of the fact that they had, after all, won. The writer at the time would also come up against sources like I which, not published b y the government, towed the official line. Although I doubt they would be fooled by I, which is obviously too good to be true, or whether they would recognise it for what it undoubtedly is, I don't know, though I would like to believe that they would. They may however not realise that sources H and J were true, or that the trenches were as bad as they have suggested. The truth about the war was, of course finally realised, if only for the reason that it was a political weapon and was used as such by the labour party to considerable effect. Basically, I believe the pieces would be different because we have had time to pause, take stock and question the truth of the matter. Materials Used Sources A-J "Britain and the First World War" Britain and the Great War - G. Hetherton World War facts and figures - P. Haythornthwaite 1914 - 1918 In Poetry - anthology by E.L. Black History Channel.com They Called it Passchendaele - Lyn MacDonald The Great War Generals on the Western Front - R. Neillands (facts + figures about Somme, Yepres etc.) ...read more.

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