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Life on the Western Front - Sources Questions

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Introduction

History coursework - Life on the Western Front The First World War was a shattering experience for all Europeans, both soldiers and civilians. Memoirs show that soldiers expressed a wide variety of views on the war. Some soldiers enjoyed the war and some hated it, but most were unable to decide how they felt about it. In this essay I will be examining whether or not official accounts of the Western Front more accurate than personal accounts. I will survey several sources and try to draw a conclusion. Soldiers in the war were allowed little correspondence. Their letters and postcards sent home were censored to the point of very little detail. They were only allowed to write about family, friends and their health, as can be seen on the field service postcard, source A1. The honour clause was a statement all soldiers had to sign to confirm they were not writing about anything else other than private family matters. The honour clause also gave the officials permission to examine the contents of the postcard/letter e.g. 'Green envelope' source A2. The officials censored letters and postcards because they didn't want people back home to know too much and also because they didn't want the Germans to accidentally find out their plans. ...read more.

Middle

Sources B9-B13 are more gruesome compared to the sources in the official account. The reasons for the difference are officials wanted to conceal all the gruesome deaths that the British soldiers had and only took photos of their peaceful deaths. I think photos, official and personal, are quite accurate as source of information on the Western Front for a variety of purposes. Punch was a British humorous political magazine. It contained anti-German propaganda. The main purpose of political cartoons is to get a message across in a more entertaining way. I think source A10 is very useful to historians studying soldiers' attitudes to life on the Western Front because it shows that soldiers were pessimistic and found trench life difficult to handle. I don't think source A13 is reliable. This is because the cartoon was taken from a British political magazine and the Germans were the enemy so they would have wanted to make the Germans look bad. There are a few hints of bias in sources A14 and A15, for example "Our operations, in conjunction with the French, definitely stopped the German attack, and it has not since been removed." ...read more.

Conclusion

To prevent this from spreading the soldiers rubbed whale oil on to their feet everyday. Being bitten by lice was also very common in the trenches. They tried to prevent this by running a lighted candle along the seams of their clothing but this only killed the lice, not their eggs. The lice carried a disease called trench fever. I think sources A9, B3, B13 would be most useful to historians wanting to find out about the morale of the soldiers. The people today view the war a lot differently compared to the people who lived through it. When you step back and take a closer look at the picture you see things differently. Overall, I have a fairly accurate view of life on the Western Front from looking at personal and official accounts. I have found both, official and personal, accounts useful. I can't really put together an accurate picture of what life on the Western Front was actually like using personal accounts because the soldiers may not remember what happened to give an accurate description and would be bias against Germans. The official account has been censored so that also is not really reliable. Therefore I think that by looking at both accounts would give a clearer picture. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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