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With reference to the trenches / tunnels at Vimy Ridge, how typical are these of conditions for soldiers in the First World War?

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Introduction

With reference to the trenches / tunnels at Vimy Ridge, how typical are these of conditions for soldiers in the First World War? The trenches at Vimy Ridge have been re-constructed where previous Canadian and German trenches once were. The Canadians have one front line trench as well as tunnels, whereas the Germans have a front line, a reserve line and a support trench. The trenches have been constructed with concrete sandbags and duckboards. The area has many craters and shell holes in No Man's Land. 11,285 pine and maple trees have been planted to commemorate each Canadian soldier that was un-accounted for in the war. The trenches at Vimy Ridge have been made from concrete and are therefore very clean and stable. This is untypical, as trenches would have been muddy, wet and would have been made from bare earth. There is no barbed wire at Vimy and the size of No Man's Land, 50 metres, is rather small compared to other trenches like the reconstructed ones at the Museum of Notre Dame de Lorette. ...read more.

Middle

A trench of six feet tall was amply tall enough for the soldiers. The size of the trenches is similar to the reconstructed trenches at the museum and also is similar to those in both Source A and Source B. Source shows soldiers sitting down; if they were to stand up, their heads would still be below the top of the trench. Source B shows soldiers struggling to get over the top of the trench which shows that it was above the five feet four inches of the average soldier. Craters and shell holes are evident at Vimy implying many casualties, which is accurate as many people did die - seen in the tree-surrounded memorial. Also, the tunnels at Vimy were partly destroyed by underground mines. This suggests that there were casualties and is similar to the museum at Notre Dame de Lorette by both including rest rooms and a medical room. The photograph showing the trench (Source A) is reliable as it is a Government photo and would have been wanted for information on the war and trenches. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the time, the Government wanted as many people as possible to join in the war effort and support their country. However, as Owen was an officer, his letter may not have been censored. The trenches at Vimy Ridge are of the right shape and in the correct position. The zigzag structure is typical and there are original artefacts on the site. The tunnels are also original and there is evidence of casualties from the craters and shell holes. However, there is no barbed wire; the sandbags and duckboards have been constructed in concrete and No Man's Land has been grassed-over. Overall, I believe that the tunnels and trenches at Vimy Ridge are reliable as they are consistent with sizes and shapes from other sources. Despite this, it does not give a truly accurate impression of what the conditions were for soldiers at the time of the war. The trenches are very clean, whereas they would have been covered in mud and water - more of what the description of Source D portrays - "filled with water to a depth of 1 or 2 feet", "craters full of water" and "an octopus of sucking clay." ...read more.

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