Britain and the First World War 1914-1918 Monday, 15 October 2001

1.) Source A was published before 1916 because the source does not specifically say that you MUST join the army and become part of the 100, 000 required men. The source is only encouraging you to join, and I know that this happened at the start of the war. The fact that it doesn’t say you MUST join tells me that conscription hasn’t been introduced yet, and I know that conscription was introduced in 25th January 1916.

Source B was published before 1916 because this source is only encouraging men to enlist in the army. The caption,’ Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?’ stirs patriotic feelings in men, but the source doesn’t not say that men must join the army. This tells me conscription hasn’t been introduced yet, and I know that conscription was introduced later in the war, during 1916.

Source C was published after 1917 because the poster is encouraging people to enlist in the US Army and help defeat the ‘Mad Brute.’ I know that the USA only joined the war in April 1917 so they are starting to get men to join up, so that means that this poster was printed after 1916 when the USA had just joined the war and needed men to enlist.

2.) Sources A, B and C are similar because they are forms of propaganda. They encourage the reader to join up in the army so that they can either be remembered as a war hero or help crush the ‘mad brute.’ They differ in the way of how they are written. Sources A and B were published by the British Government and they are written like they are avoiding the subject of Germany starting the war. Source C on the other hand says ‘Destroy this Mad Brute’, acknowledging the fact there is a destructive force behind the war. It also has the monster in the source wearing the German spiked helmet, and the German club of culture to attack with. The monster is stealing the symbol of France, Lady Liberty.

3.) I believe that that Source D proves Source A and B were useful. However, Source D was a written story that was after the war, and so may have been exaggerated. Source A was a newspaper advertisement and the person in Source D says that he didn’t have access to one. However, after that advertisement had been released, within 4 weeks, 500000 men had enlisted in the army, showing that it did have an impact. Source B is made to provoke patriotic feelings in younger men. It talks about the future, encouraging younger men to join up and in source D, it says that he was only 16 years and 7 months old.

4.) The government issued postcards like these because they wanted to the soldiers to write pleasant things to send back to Britain, so that morale would be kept high in the country. The government needed morale kept high so that men would continue to enlist in the army and women would continue to work in the munitions factories. These factors were essential to Britain in the war so they needed to be kept high.

Another reason is if the German Intelligence either captured the postcards or a trench containing them, the postcards wouldn’t give the Germans any information at all. In fact, they would show the British soldiers were having a great time.

5.) Source F is reliable because it talks about the person joining the army with a friend of his. This tells us that people joined the army in groups or ‘Pal Battalions’ as they were known. It also tells us that it was their first time up in the trenches so they were new and inexperienced. This is was true because many soldiers at the time were young and not ‘war-hardened.’ The source tells us that life in the trenches was dangerous, because of the snipers but also boring because they were going to repair a trench. Trench life was mostly about repairing the trenches; rarely did soldiers go over the top. It isn’t reliable because the soldiers didn’t always spend their entire time in the war in trenches. They spent around a week in the trenches and then most of their time in the nearby towns and support trenches.

Source G is reliable because it tells us that the trench soldiers were sometimes happy. They sang songs and smoked cigarettes. However it isn’t reliable because the man standing on top of the trench has stripes showing he was a sergeant, and they usually didn’t venture in the trenches. Also he would have been sniped, by standing up like that.

One of the privates also has a moustache, but this is inaccurate because privates weren’t allowed to have facial hair in the army. They are also wearing the wrong hats (dress uniform) when they should be wearing helmets. Source G is propaganda because it gives the impression that if you buy the cigarettes, you will be helping the war effort.

6.) Sources H, J and I may differ because they were different accounts by different people. Source H is by Sir Douglas Haig. He would’ve been biased because he was leading the war and so wanted to make it seem that they would win. Also, he was away from the front lines, so he wouldn’t have known what was really going on, and how the men were really feeling. He also may have been given information that was wrong. In the source it says that ‘the wire has never been so well cut.’ It may have well cut in some places but in most places it wasn’t.

Source I is from an experienced solider, George Coppard. He would’ve been up on the front lines and have seen the battle first-hand. Also, his account is a part from the story, ‘With a Machine Gun to Cambrai.’ It was written after the war as a story so he might have exaggerated some details.

Source J is a photograph of a British soldier bringing back a German POW. The photograph was taken with the intent of propaganda because it shows that the Germans were been captured. It was an exaggerated take of British heroism.

7.) Source K tells us that that recruitment posters were successful in making men sign up at the start of the war because in Source K, Lieutenant George signed up straight away to enlist in the army. We can also learn that many people such as communities and towns lost many people in ‘Pal Battalions’ when Lieutenant George says he is the ‘only one of the Trinity’s Tiddlers still alive.’ It also tells us that soldiers tried to get out of the war and back to Blighty by any means possible, in Blackadder’s case, pretending to be mad like in Sudan.

However Source K is weak because when Baldrick tells Blackadder that when he’s been drinking coffee, he’s been drinking mud, this is inaccurate. British soldiers were actually well stocked with food. They had a main diet of bully beef and jam, and compared to the French and German who often had nothing to eat, they were very fortunate. However most of the time, the soldiers didn’t have luxuries like cigarettes, when Lieutenant George offers Blackadder one at the start. Source K also clashes with Source H because Source H says that the diary of Sir Douglas Haig. He wrote the account before the Battle of the Somme, but in Source K it tells us that he had the title of Field Marshall. He only became a Field Marshall after the Battle of the Somme.

8.) Source A, B and C disagree. The purpose of these sources was to try and get people to enlist in the army. If the Government was doing everything in its power to try to mislead soldiers and people, then every piece of propaganda would have been on what Trench Life was like. However, they also agree with the source because they don’t tell people what fighting in the war was really like. Source B tries to stir feelings if your children ever asked what you did in the war, but not many people lived along enough to even have children. Sources H and I disagree. Source H disagrees because Douglas Haig actually thought that everything was going fine. He had different accounts from people, telling him that the wire was either cut or not, and since he was leading the British war effort, he’d be biased and say that they were doing a fine job. Source I disagrees because it provides a detailed view of what the war was actually like – dead bodies strewn everywhere, etc. It doesn’t omit any details out.

Source D, E, F, G and J agree. Source D agrees because the boy is only 16 and he doesn’t know what life was really like in the trenches. Source E agrees because its purpose was to stop families from finding out the truth. It had very strict rules and what you could or couldn’t say. The Government did everything in their power to try and mislead people. Source F agrees because it states that the people were new and inexperienced when he says that ‘they should have told us.’ He didn’t know what to expect; they didn’t know about the snipers and one of them paid for it with his life. They thought it’d be an easy war and be over in a few months. Source G agrees because the man is standing up. Normally, soldiers didn’t do this because you’d get shot at. The source is trying to make soldiers in the war look proud and heroic. The source is also propaganda because it’s trying to sell cigarettes. It gives the impression that if you buy the cigarettes, you’ll be helping Britain out in the war. Source J agrees because it is propaganda. The photo was taken with the intention of letting people know that British soldiers captured Germans. The DORA Act of 1914, allowed the Government to control what the public were shown and this is exactly what they would show the public.

Source K disagrees because it provides a fair view on what trench conditions were like. Often, it was boring with nothing to do, as shown by Source K where they sit around and sing poems to each other.

In conclusion, I’d agree up to a certain extent. On the one hand, the military and civil authorities did mislead people. Most of them thought it was going to be an easy war and be over quickly. None of them knew it’d last for 4 years and kill millions of people. However, the military and civil authorities did try and provide a suitable view on trench life. They made the Battle of Somme film to show the public what life was like, and that was realistic.