WWI:Trench Warfare

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by jglasgow4072
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Social Studies
World War I

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WWI:Trench Warfare

WWI: Trench Warfare

Activity: Using the Close Reading technique, read the primary source documents written by soldiers describing their experience in the trenches during World War I. View the video  explanations of trench warfare, and photographs.  Write a paragraph describing the experience of soldiers in WWI. Make sure to include a claim/subclaims, context (background), and synthesis (group your evidence to support your claim).

Source A: A diary entry from a soldier who was part of a unit of British troops stealing towards the German trenches as night falls.I really believe that I am after all a coward for I don't like patrolling... The battalion who alternate with us here have lost three officers (or rather two officers and an NCO) on this business in front of my trenches. As soon as the dusk is sufficiently dark, we get out into the front of the trenches by climbing up on to the parapet and tumbling over as rapidly as possible so as not to be silhouetted against the last traces of the sunset. No man feels afraid for we have grown accustomed to this thing now, but every man knows that he has probably seen his last sunset, for this is the most dangerous thing in war. Out we walk through the barbed wire entanglement zone through which an approaching enemy must climb, but we have a zigzag path through the 30 yards or so of prickly unpleasantness; this path is only known to a few. The night has become horribly dark already, and the stillness of the night is broken only by the croaking of many frogs, the hoot of an owl and the boom of distant guns in the south. The adventure has commenced. Nothing is discernible, so they return, and for another hour we lie in absolute silence like spiders waiting for flies. It is a weary game and extremely trying to one's nerves, for every sense especially hearing and sight are strained to the utmost. Tiny noises are magnified a hundredfold - a rat nibbling at the growing corn or a rabbit scuttling along give us all the jumps until we learn to differentiate the different sounds. Suddenly quite close to the corporal and myself there is a heavy rustling in the long grass on the right. Now, if never before, I know the meaning of - is it fear? My heart thumps so heavily that they surely must hear it, my face is covered with a cold perspiration, my revolver hammer goes back with a sharp click and my hand trembles. I have no inclination to run away - quite the reverse - but I have one solitary thought: I am going to kill a man. This I repeat over and over again, and the thought makes me miserable and at the same time joyful for I shall have accounted for one of the blackguards even if I go myself. Do they know we are here? How many are there? Are they armed with bombs like most German patrols? However, our queries remain unanswered, for quite abruptly they change their direction and make off to the right where to follow them would be only courting certain disaster.

Source C: This is from a collection of stories from soldiers about the effects of chemical warfare during World War I. “Our eyes now began to feel irritated. All and sundry commenced to vomit. I heard several men complain about the pain in their eyes, some even complained of going blind; one by one these fellows made their way to the First Aid Dressing Station. The stream of men increased, those who could see led the way while the others formed a queue behind, each one placing his hands on the shoulders of his predecessor for guidance... The symptoms were as follows: blindness, deafness, loss of voice, inability to swallow, weakness, high fever, burns on exposed and delicate parts of the anatomy, choking cough, difficult breathing.”


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