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Trench Life and the Condition of Soldiers

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Source C shows a group of German soldiers positioned in a trench in northern France. The soldiers in the trench are holding a heavy machine gun and have an advanced gas mask over their faces. This tells me that they are prepared for a gas attack. This photo was taken three years into the war which tells me that gas attacks became more frequent and therefore they felt the need to improve the gas masks to be more prepared. The source is German, and on one hand it is good because it shows us the features of the German trenches and how they are prepared for the attacks and artillery fire but on the other hand it is likely to be staged because the camera is right in front of the machinery so if it was an English source the Germans would have shot the opposition. It is also likely to be staged because it looks more like a whole in a ground than a trench. We do not know the purpose of the source, who produced it, or what it was used for and if there is any other information surrounding it in the museum. Machine guns killed a lot of people in the war but gas attacks also killed many soldiers, there a two types of gas attacks; a chlorine gas attack (turns all the air in your lungs to water, forcing you to drown) and a mustard gas attack (which burns all of your mouth) the soldiers could either have just experienced a gas attack, about to set one off or are preparing themselves for one. The fact that the gas attack method is still being used by 1917 shows it was a useful method and killed a lot of people. Source C has informed me about the use of gas attacks in the trenches in 1917 and it also gives me evidence of other key information about trench warfare in world war one. All though it only shows me the German trench, I can still predict that British trench warfare is similar and therefore it is a useful source.

Source a shows a British trench in July 1916, during the battle of the Somme. From the source, I can interpret that the soldiers are wearing hard helmets which shows it was a way into the war because the equipment is more advanced. The photo was taken during day hours (it is light) and there are many soldiers sleeping on the sides/floor of the trench. From this I can infer that they fight during the night and use day time for personal matters and to catch up on sleep. The trench is very unorganised and dirty; the sides are crumbling which is evidence that it is a British trench because I know that the German trenches were better structured because the Germans had more time to build them. There is a soldier on watch to be aware of the opposition and I can see barbed wire over the top of the trench, leading into no mans land. The photo was taken during the battle of the Somme and from my knowledge of the Somme I know it was a very bloody battle, the source does not look like it was from the Somme. The reason for this is probably because the purpose of the source is for the British government to show the British people what it was like in the trenches. The government had promised them that the war would be over by Christmas 1914 and by 1916, the war was still going. This source was likely to be attempting to get the support from the British public and therefore wanted to make the war look as peaceful as possible. This source shows us a lot about trench life and how they went about every day and night and the conditions the soldiers lived in however, it is likely to be staged as it’s a government source and we don’t know the location in the trench line and whether it was near or far from the Somme in the north.

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