BSU HIST 150 - Wartime Experiences: The Western Front

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GESCHICHTE 150 Friday, October 18, 2013OUTLINEWartime Experiences: The Western FrontTrench Warfare: The Battle of the Somme (July 1-November 18, 1916)British-led offensive (with French support) vs. GermanyBackground—August 5, 1914—Lord Kitchener became the Secretary of War—the British army number roughly 250,000 menRecruitment of volunteers for the British army (Britain did not introduce conscription (a military draft) until January 1916) sample recruitment posters—“Pals’ Battalions”Results: nearly 2.5 million men volunteered for the armyBritish Commander Douglas HaigVideo clip; *****results of Day 1—July 1, 1916September 15—the British unveiled their new weapon—the tankNovember 18—Haig called off the offensive; resultsPoetry by Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon (reading for today)NOTESBackgroundAugust 5, 1914—Lord Kitchener becomes Secretary of Wara. War hero from the Battle of Omdurmanb. Has small army, and requests that they build it up; believed that the war would last at least 3 years (rather than the popular opinion or conventional wisdom that the war would end in only a few weeks)i. At the beginning of the war, army recruitment relied on volunteersii. Units of “Pals’ Battalions”; men were encouraged to sign up together so they would be in the same battalions together; peer pressure and the powerof the group; ultimately these men grew up, trained, and died together in the first world war[Image] recruitment posterLord Kitchener illustrated pointing at the viewer/audience“YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU” was the message displayedInspiration for the future “Uncle Sam” posters in WWIIGESCHICHTE 150 Friday, October 18, 2013[Image] recruitment poster“BRITAIN NEEDS YOU AT ONCE”Contemporary version of a knight; the “new crusade/cause”Imagery of Saint George slaying the dragon (representing Germany)[Image] recruitment posterAddressed at women“To the Young Women of London”; encouraged women to persuade their “best boy” fighting forthem and their country; implied to women that a man who didn’t fight for their country would later “neglect” his girl or wife as well (using the manipulation of relationship to persuade men into the army)[Image] photographCrowd of men waiting in the recruitment line with smiles on their faces; excited to be part of thewartime effort, volunteeredBattle of the Somme- Considered to be initiation test for the men and their experience with trench warfare- Britain’s first major battle of the war- Douglas Haig (British commander)—fiercely defended and criticized for his part in the battle- The civilian volunteers fighting were ultimately “not battle-tested” (Haig’s worry)- Britain sets off a massive explosion below the German troops, and when a small silence followed, they advanced toward the German trenches by crossing “no man’s land”; the German troops leave their trenches and begin to fire on the unprotected British forces with machine guns; devastating British casualties in comparison to German casualties- Statistics of war (handout)- Britain unveils their new weapon: the tank- Battle drags on until Haig calls off the offensive (NOT because of casualties, but because heavy rain reduced the field to mud; acted more like cement, hindered navigation, some men drowned)- Ultimately, the British army gained about 6 miles while 125,000 men lost their lives- ***MASSIVE LOSS OF LIFE, LITTLE TERRITORIAL GAIN[Image] photographSoldiers on the battlefield, large pockets of water on the ground, trees throughout the landscape are barren and deadGround became like quick-sand or “cement”[Image] photographsScenes on the battlefield, soldiers’ bodies lying on the groundGESCHICHTE 150 Friday, October 18, 2013PoetryWhat are some themes presented by Wilfred Owens and Siegfried Sassoon?Collision of excitement and the reality of warHow horrible it is to die in warDolce…—describes a soldier who fumbled with his gas mask and couldn’t put it on in time; drowning in the gas; soldier (in the poem) is haunted by the memoryof this event; now disillusioned with warfareMen returned changed: mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologicallyMen came back to their countries but were treated differently (their lives affected those around


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