This source is reliable because it is primary evidence and it is a photo, this would mean that what it shows actually happened. However, the reliability of this source is brought into question because it might be set up or staged for government purposes. If this were true the source would not show an accurate portrayal of life in the trenches and would therefore be inaccurate and unreliable.
This source is still useful. This is because it might still show what it was like for men in some parts of the front line. We do not know where this photo was taken and because of that we do not know how accurate it could be. This photo might have been taken in a very quiet part of the trenches and because of that it might show exactly what it was like in that pert of the trenches. This would make the source reliable in showing us that not all parts of the trenches were as bad as some sources might show.
Also, this photo might have been taken at a very quiet time in the war. This means that this source is useful in showing how the war can very but doesn’t show an accurate picture of what the war was like in general. This source is useful in a way that we can only se by looking at the provenance to the source. It says that the men in the photo are Australian, this is a useful piece of information because it tells us that Australia (which was part of the Commonwealth) also fought in the war.
From looking at sources B4 and A2 together we can see that the conditions in the war varied. Sometimes the men were very dirty and unhygienic but, as shown in B4, there were times or places in the trenches that men had cleaner clothes and better food.
Source B3 could be used in conjunction with B6 to help us further understand what the food situation was like in the war. B6 gives a list of the food that each soldier were given per day. From the list given we can see that the soldiers were given quite a lot of food for one day and their food included bully beef, bread, bacon and lots of other things like tea and jam. This source agrees with what we have seen in source B4 but it contradicts source A2. This source is saying that soldiers would have had enough food to eat and that it was quite good food as well.
This source is from section B so we know that it an official account of what it was like in the trenches, because of this we must take it into consideration that the source could have been set up to give people at home the impression that men at the trenches were treated a lot better than they actually were. This source is useful in showing us what the government wanted people to think about conditions in the war. If the source is true we know that men at the trenches might have actually received this amount of food. Sources that say men in the trenches have very little food obviously disagree with this source, but I can use my own knowledge to understand a reasonable explanation for this. I know that many supplies were intercepted and stolen by the enemy, this would mean that not all the food that was sent out by the government got to the front line. This could explain why the government say they gave out a lot more food than the soldiers claimed they received.
This source is likely to be accurate because it seems to have very concise measurements of the food given to the soldiers. Because of this it is unlikely that the amounts were made up or changed. On the other hand it is possible that these figures were made up so people would think that men at the front would get a lot more food than they actually did. This would make it more likely that they would help in the war effort so I know that this is very likely to have happened.
This source might only be true for some parts of the trenches. This would mean that the source is only useful in showing us how some of the soldiers ate in the war. It could not be applied to all soldiers because I know that it is unlikely that every soldier in the war would get this much food each day.
The next source I am going to look at is source A3. This source shows us two sides of what it was like in the trenches. It explains how in some part of the trenches there was very little fighting and soldiers had to think of other things to do. However, it also shows us that in parts of the trenches where there was a lot of fighting and the men had lots to do.
Denis Winter who is the same person to write source A2 wrote the source. From this information alone we can conclude that the source is likely to be reliable because he is a historian who is experienced in writing about the war. Because of this we know that he would have researched the topic quite a lot and would know what he is writing about. The information in this source is likely to have come from other sources, probably primary and will be a fair, accurate conclusion to these sources.
Because this source is balanced and gives us more than one view of living in the trenches it can be seen as very useful. This is because it gives us a wider view of what it was like. The source does not only say that soldiers who were in a quiet part of the trenches had to write letters and keep diaries etc. it also says that soldiers in parts of the trenches who were involved with fighting were under constant shell fire and bombardment. Because of this we can also assume that the source is very reliable because the historian doesn’t seem to be giving his own viewpoint or any other biased view.
This source also includes a small photo to back up what it is saying. The photo shows a soldier in seemingly harsh conditions and backs up part of what the source is saying. Because of this the source could be more accurate and be relied on more.
This source could be contrasted or compared with many other sources. Parts of it agree with the message given in source B4 but the rest disagrees with this source. Because source A3 is so balanced and gives a reliable overview of life in the trenches I think it is a very useful source.
One very important aspect of trench life that I feel I must look at is the routines that soldiers carried out in the trenches. This part of trench life is shown very well in source A6. This source is quite a large extract form a textbook and is titled ‘Life in the Trenches: Routine’. Because of the title we know that the majority of the information in the source will be based on routines in the trenches.
This source is useful in showing us how soldiers spent there time in the war. I think this is good information because it tells us that soldiers spent different amounts of time in other trenches and resting whereas before it could be assumed that every soldier stayed in the same trenches and had very little break. This information is made more accurate because the same information is given in sourceA3 so we can see that these two sources agree with one another.
This source is only useful for us with the information that it provides and is detailed in. This source says a lot about where the soldiers spent their time and their day-to-day chores but it doesn’t go into a lot of detail about what they did. Because of this it might be seen as not entirely useful. This source also gives us information on censorship in the war and gifts to the soldiers. This information makes the source slightly useful in giving us more information but because it doesn’t go into as much detail in these points it cant be as useful for this information.
From looking at this source it seems to be very accurate. It goes into quite a lot of detail for each of the pieces of information it gives us and tries to expand to give a fuller picture. This source is unlikely to be entirely accurate though. I can pick this up in two points of the source where it says that everybody ate breakfast and an evening meal. This statement could be seen as very true according to some other sources that say soldiers had good food e.g. B6 and B4 but other sources would disagree with what this says and says the food was poor and scarce.
I think this source is reliable because a historian who would have researched his information and based his ideas on primary evidence writes it. Because of this the source is likely to be balanced and have an unbiased viewpoint.
From the sources in section A we can get quite a good idea of what it must have been like for soldiers living in the war. By comparing and contrasting these sources to sources in sections B it has given me a more balanced view. To further find out the truth of what it was like in the trenches I must compare sources form sections B and C. This should help me see if soldiers gave a more accurate view of trench life than official accounts or not.
In section B the sources consist of official accounts about life in the trenches. I think these sources are likely to be one sided and might try to tone down the misery and pain that occurred in the trenches. This is because the government would not like the war to seem as bad as it actually was so they censored it down. We already know they did this from previous sources that say the government edited some letters to give the right impression to people at home.
The first source I will be looking at in section B is source B1. This source is a painting that is titled ‘An Advanced Dressing Station at the Front’. A man called Henry Tonks who was an official war artist painted it. This means that he was likely to have drawn what the government wanted him to draw rather than what was actually there.
The painting shows many injured people being treated at a dressing station. It seems to be very graphic showing people with broken limbs, there seems to be a lot of misery in the painting. When looking at this source I have to think about why it was painted. Was it to show good medical facilities or to show the injuries people endured in the war? The reason for this source being painted depends on how useful the source is and the reasons the source is useful.
If the painting was painted to show good medical facilities I think it is likely to have been sanitised or censored to make things look like they’re all under control when in reality they weren’t. For this reason this source will be useful in showing us ways in which the government decided to censor things that happened in the war or to give people false pretences of life in the trenches. The source would not be useful in showing us the medical facilities in the war because the facts would have been changed to give a more acceptable reality.
I think that if the aim of this painting were to show injuries in the war it would be extremely reliable and accurate. This is because the painter would try to make the painting as truthful as possible. Because of this I think he would have tried to make the source as truthful as possible so we can be sure that it is very accurate.
I think this source is reliable because it is primary evidence and the artist would have been there so he would have had a first hand experience of the war. Also, he was originally a war surgeon so he would be very experienced in injuries and the atmosphere of this place.
I think this source has definitely been censored to hide the true horrific facts of the war but at the same time I know that there is likely to be some truth in the source because of its content. By looking at the source I can see that it includes some very graphic details but because of the nature of these injuries I think that there should be more horrific injuries.
In the war the government used many techniques to try to enlist new soldiers. A source, which shows one of the methods used, is source B5. It is an advertisement in ‘The Times’ on April 15, 1915. This source claims it is an extract of a letter from the trenches but I think this is brought into serious question. In my opinion it is really a piece of propaganda used by the government to get more soldiers for the war. The source contains lots of information that gives me this idea.
It uses techniques that I know the government used, these include using words like ‘I’ and ‘We’. This brings the reader into the advert and aims it directly at them. Also, the source includes jingoism, which is likely to stir up hatred of the Germans and persuade people to recruit more. I think the fact that the source claims the soldiers are all ‘fit as fiddles’ also implies that it is propaganda because this is unlikely to be entirely true.
The source is useful in showing us the ways the government could make people see what they wanted them to see. From looking at it now we know that it is extremely likely to be propaganda but people reading it at the time might have believed it. Because it is primary evidence I know that it was around at the time of the event that makes it even more reliable as we know it was used.
The source could be less useful because we do not know how people reacted to the advert, we don’t know whether they responded to it in the desired way or not. I think it also less reliable as we do not know how much the government had to do with this source. Maybe it was a real letter that they changed or they could have made it up completely.
This source isn’t very accurate because of the purpose of it. It is propaganda so some facts are false. An example of this is when it says ‘it’s not so bad out here’. This is severely contradicting what other sources are saying, especially some sources from section C that we know are soldiers accounts of the events. One source that disagrees with this source is source C7.
C7 is an extract from a soldiers memoirs. This source describes the discomforts and misery in trenches felt by infantry soldiers. From the feeling we get from this source we can already see that it is opposite to what B5 says.
Because the source is primary evidence it can be very accurate. The soldier who wrote the source knows what he is talking about because he was in the same place at the same time of the events he describes. However, the accuracy might be brought into question because the writer may have over exaggerated the events to glorify what it was like in the war.
I think this source is reliable because it seems to be the true feelings of the writer so we can assume that he is being as truthful as possible. Because the events might be glorified the reliability is questioned. The source is only reliable if the writer is being truthful. Because of other sources that describe misery in the trenches I think this source is likely to be truthful and therefore reliable.
This source is useful in showing us the overall feeling that the men felt in the trenches. The writer also describes how others may have felt so it is not just the views of one man. This would make the source more useful as we are given the views of more than one individual. The source is less useful if you take into consideration the fact that the sources information is limited. The source does not describe why the men were so unhappy but I can pick this information up form other sources.
Overall, this source gives a summery of the soldier’s feelings in the war. It disagrees with sources in section B like B4 and B5. I think this source is useful as it gives us personal feelings but it only shows one side of the story.
Adverts for things like cigarettes and alcohol also helped the government portray a false image of the war. They did this using pictures and words to give the wrong impression of life in the trenches. An example of how they did this is in source B8. This source is a cigarette advert released during the war and is obviously entirely incorrect.
Although this source is just an advert it could still be very reliable in showing us how the government were able to get their view across. The avert shows a man looking over the top of the trench. He looks very eager and relaxed. I know this would never have happened because he would have been shot.
This source is not very reliable because it gives us information that is definitely wrong and incorrect. If we take it as just an advert it is reliable only in showing us that propaganda was used a lot during the war.
The source is also definitely not accurate. The men are clean and tidy and as we know for other sources they were more likely to have been dirty and covered in mud and dirt.
The source can be useful because it shows us what things were like in the war. It shows that everything was geared to give the right impression of the war, whether it was true or not. The impression this advert gives us of the war is extremely different from the impression we get from other sources. A source that disagrees with B8 is source D6.
Source D6 is a poem that describes how miserable and scared the soldiers were during the war. This source gives a very different impression that that given in B8. I think this source is reliable because it is a poem and lots of people like to portray their true feelings through poems. Because of this the poem is likely to be very truthful although some facts might have been exaggerated to make the poem more exciting to the readers.
This poem is useful because it gives us the psychological sides of the war. This helps us understand how people reacted to different things in the war and how they truly felt about it.
Because this source is a poem it doesn’t give us any definite facts so for this reason it is less reliable and also less useful to us as factual information. Overall I think this source is useful as it gives us views that we would not get from other sources.
I think this source is likely to be accurate because of the seriousness of it. The poet is trying to get across a very serious viewpoint so he includes truthful information to help him do this.
From the sources in section B we get the impression that the war was not as bad as other sources make out. We see this by comparing them to sources from other sections and this helps us see a great contrast to what they are saying. In my opinion the sources form section B cannot be entirely trusted as they are the views that the government wanted the public to have and might contain very little truth.
In order to get a more accurate and balanced view of life in the trenches we must look at sources form section C and D. By comparing and contrasting these sources it will help me understand what it was really like in the trenches during the war. The sources in section C are all soldiers’ accounts of trench life. For this reason I think they may be slightly exaggerated to glorify the events.
The first source I will be looking at in section C is source C2. This source is a soldier talking about de-lousing himself. The source sounds very exaggerated and over the top, I think this is because the author has tried to make things sound worse than they actually were to try and turn him into more of a hero than he actually was. I think soldiers might have done this to many of their stories because they didn’t get as much gratitude for the war as they would have liked.
The reliability of this source is limited because of the exaggerated facts although I’m sure there is some truth in it. I think it could be considered reliable because a person who experienced the events wrote it and it is primary evidence. However, not all of it is likely to be true so we have to look at what parts might be exaggerated. For example, the part where he says some popped onto his face is unlikely but it might still be true. For this reason I think this source is reliable but it might still contain incorrect information.
This source is useful because it helps us to understand how disgusting it might have been for those living in trenches. It tells us that the clothes were infested with lice. Although this was probably true I doubt it was as bad as the man described it to be in the source. This sources usefulness is limited because it only talks about one thing. It doesn’t explain what the overall cleanliness was like in the trenches, only the lice. Because of this it is only useful in giving us one side of the story. As far as we know from this source every other aspect of the trenches were clean. This however is also unlike to be true because I know from other sources that the hygiene in trenches was very low.
This source is unlikely to be very accurate because it looks as though many aspects of it are exaggerated. However, there is likely to be some accuracy in it because I doubt all the information would have been just made up and the writer would have needed something to base his ideas on. I think this source is useful for showing how soldiers are likely to glorify events and also in explaining how dirty it could get in the trenches.
Trench foot was one of the worst things a soldier could endure in the war. It was caused by the dampness in the trenches and could cause extreme pain to anyone who had it. In source C3 a British soldier describes trench foot and how it affected you. This source also sounds very exaggerated but as I am not sure exactly how bad trench foot really was I am not sure if this source is entirely accurate or not.
I think this source is useful because it tells us about the pain and misery a soldier who had trench foot had to go through. I think this is useful because it might help me to explain why many soldiers became bitter and unpatriotic during the war. This source is also useful because it tells us how trench foot might have affected a soldier. The source is not useful, however, in telling us how trench foot came about. This does not matter though because I know the trenches being wet and the feet of soldiers being constantly wet caused trench foot.
This source is unlikely to be entirely accurate. The parts where the soldier says that you could stick a bayonet into the feet and not feel a thing is likely to be exaggerated, also the bit when it is said that the feet could swell up to two or three times the size of normal. I think these might again be exaggerated to glorify the events and make the soldiers sound really courageous and brave. I think most of the extract is accurate though because I know that trench foot was an extremely bad thing to get and could be very painful to whoever has it.
I think this source is very reliable. This is because the person who wrote it is likely to have experienced the events for himself and would know what he is talking about. I think this source would be less reliable because the facts might be slightly exaggerated.
As well as trench foot and lice, there was another enemy in the trenches. Something that soldiers seemed to hate for than anything else were rats. In source C9 a soldier describes his hatred for rats in the trenches. The source is taken form a book in 1976 but it looks as though it were taken from a diary or something of a soldier in the war.
I think this source is useful because it describes one of the smaller problems soldiers had to endure in the war, rats. The source describes how the soldiers hated the rats but I think there are parts of this source that are also exaggerated to glorify the events they endured. This source is not extremely useful in giving us information on trench life because it is so short and only talks about one small subject to do with trench life.
This source is reliable because it is the views of a soldier who really experienced these events and I think he will be talking about something that affected him a lot. Because the facts are not too elaborate I think that this source is very close to the truth and it sound be very possible for the rats to grow fat from feeding on the dead in no-mans land. Overall, I think this source is very reliable and is useful to us in seeing what the rat situation was like in the trenches.
I think that this source could be accurate because it does not say anything that is unbelievable and it sticks very much to facts rather than personal opinion. However, it is still possible that the information in this source is still exaggerated to make things sound more extreme. Because of this the source could never be entirely accurate. Because of this is cannot be entirely reliable either but it still remains useful because it would show how the soldiers were affected and how they might make some events more extreme than they actually were.
One thing that the soldiers started to feel at the end of the war was a feeling hatred towards their country. Whereas they used to sing “God save the King” they now found that they didn’t care for King or country. This is shown in source C11 where private A. Hooper describes how he felt near the end of the war. I think this source is very useful because a soldier who was in the war writes it and he is describing the way he felt.
I think that the feelings he describes could be very true as by the end of the war many soldiers felt that they could not go on any longer. This would result in their anger for the country. This source is useful in showing us how the attitudes of the soldiers had changed by the end of the war. It describes how they now felt bitterness and resentment because of the things they had experienced in the war. Because they were so tired and fed up of the war they seemed not to care about winning any more, they seemed to just want to go home.
This source could be very accurate because the soldier seems to have real feelings about the things he is describing. Because of this I think he is being truthful, also, there is no obvious reason for him to be lying.
The source seems to be reliable because it is primary evidence and the person writing it knows what he is talking about. There are no complicated facts in this source, just a basic viewpoint. There is not a lot but I think that what is there is very reliable. Because there is not a lot of information in the source I don’t think it is entirely useful but it can definitely show us that the views of soldiers changed as the war went on.
I think that this source gives us a very important message that at the end of the war soldiers weren’t as eager as they had been previously. This is very important because it shows that soldiers were fighting for something that they obviously didn’t believe in. The other side to this however is that as patriotism was lost, a determination to the win the war set in. This is described in source B9.
B9 describes how patriotism as hero-worship gave way to a determination to win the war and beat the Germans. The source is secondary and is from the Scottish records office. However, we do not know who wrote this source but the source is still useful to us.
This source is similar to C11 because it describes how patriotism was lost nearer the end of the war but it says that a will to win the war replaced it. In C11 it implies that the soldiers lost the will to go on. These are both very valid views but I think that B9 gives a more accurate image of how people felt near the end of the war.
This source is useful because it backs up part of what C11 was saying but gives a different explanation for what the soldiers felt about still fighting the war. It helps us understand how people lost their patriotism and how this led them to want to win the war even more so. Instead of fighting for the country soldiers were now fighting for more personal reasons.
I think this source is more accurate than C11 because it gives more information and gives a more reasonable explanation in that people wanted to still win the war. However, this source is still not extremely accurate because it we do not know who wrote it. It might have been someone who was just looking back at other pieces of evidence. This would mean that they didn’t have experience in what they were talking about so the source would be less accurate.
I think the views C11 and B9 portray are very similar and because of this I think that the view they give is very accurate and was probably true. From this I can conclude that as the war went on people lost their patriotism but they still wanted to win the war. However, section C seems to give a very different view to those in section B. The sources in section C seem to be more graphic and make the trenches sound a lot worse than the sources in section B do. Because of this I feel that the truth to what the trenches were really like is slightly less extreme than that described in section C. I still think that the sources in section B still tried to tone the hard life in the trenches.
Now I am going to look at the final section of my essay. Section D includes poems and painting that portray life in the trenches. These sources seem to show more personal views of trench life than any other I have looked at.
The first source I am going to look at in section D is source D2. This source is a short poem written by Siegfried Sassoon who is a well-known war poet. It is called ‘Suicide in the Trenches’. The overall feeling you get from this poem is that the poet resented the war very much, the poem shows a lot of bitterness toward the war. The poem has three verses, each of them is useful in showing us something about the war. The first verse describes how happy people were to join up at the beginning of the war, this is useful in showing us the enthusiasm of soldiers at the beginning of the war.
The second and third verses describe an event in the war where a young man kills himself and the aftermath of the war. Because of the theme of the poem I think that this poem shows great resentment for the war. The person who wrote it obviously had some very bad experiences in the war. I think the source is useful because it tells us about things like suicides that happened in the trenches. It also tells us how soldiers felt about people at home not knowing what was really going on in the trenches.
The poem is reliable but only to a certain extent. It shows the views of someone who was actually on the war but because it is a poem it is not just trying to show events in the war. The poet obviously wanted it to be a good poem as well which means he might have made up some facts or exaggerated them to improve the quality of the poem.
I think this source is likely to be fairly accurate because it describes an event that could have definitely happened due to the appalling conditions in the trenches. Because it is a poem some of the facts would be less accurate to make the poem more exciting. I don’t think this poem is entirely reliable although it is useful in showing us the resentment soldiers felt about the war.
The next source I am going to look at is another poem written by a soldier during the war. This poem is another bitter poem that describes the basic living conditions in the trenches. It is not as bitter as D2 but still shows us how much the soldiers hated living in the trenches during the war.
This source is useful because it shows us the overall view that soldiers had of living in the trenches. It also includes information like what made the soldiers so uncomfortable in the war. It mentions the rats and lice that we have already seen as problems in the trenches in other sources. Because I have seen the information in this source in other sources I know that the facts are likely to be true and accurate.
I don’t think this source is particularly reliable because although it is written to show the views of the soldier it is still a poem and is trying to be a good poem. This means that some of the facts in the poem would be exaggerated to make the poem sound more exciting and interesting. On the other hand the poet would want the poem to sound realistic so he wouldn’t have made the facts too extreme.
The sources in section D all seem to portray the same image. They say that life in the trenches was bad but we still have to take into consideration that some of the facts might have been exaggerated or made to sound more extreme than they actually were. Because of this all the sources in section D might hold false information. However, I think they are still useful in showing us how the soldiers really felt about the war.
In conclusion to this essay I have to take many points into consideration. Firstly, every source might include false information in order to do its purpose. This happens less in textbook sources because they are taken form many primary sources and try to give a balanced accurate view. Sources that are written by the government seem to give the impression that life in the trenches were not as bad as the soldiers themselves made out. This is because the government wants people to think that they looked after the soldiers in the war when they might not have as well as they would make out.
The soldier’s accounts seem to be very graphic and true but we must take into consideration that they might be trying to glorify the events they experienced in the war, this is because they would like to be seen as big heroes so they could receive the gratitude they probably deserved. Even so, I think much of the facts in these sources are still true because the soldiers were actually there and they would know what happened in the trenches more than anyone else.
Overall I think that in order to get a truthful image of life in the trenches we must look at all available sources. These include soldier’s accounts as well as official accounts and poems and paintings. If any sources seem to be more accurate than others I think the soldiers accounts would be more accurate because they were there and would understand exactly what happened in the war.