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The First World War
Transcript of The First World War
At about 7.30 o'clock this morning a vigourous attack was launched by the British Army.
The front extends over some 20 miles north of the Somme. The assault was preceded by a
terrific bombardment, lasting about an hour and a half. It is too early to as yet give anything
but the barest particulars, as the fighting is developing in intensity, but the British troops
have already occupied the German front line. Many prisoners have already fallen into our
hands, and as far as can be ascertained our casualties have not been heavy.
The Battle of the Somme 1916
Commemorating the Dead & Remembrance
When people think about how we remember the First World War, most think of one element immediately - the Poppy
How Do We Remember?
But why a Poppy?
In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe's heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.
The poppy became a symbol of life in the face of death, and a source of reassurance for those still fighting.
As a result of this, and poems such as McRae's, that the poppy became popular as a symbol for soldiers who died in battle.
Why Do We Remember?
But even though the poppy seems to be the most easily recognised form of remembrance, many other forms also exist...
What about Remembrance Day?
11am on November 11th 1918 marked the beginning of an armistice between the Allies and Germany, and effectively brought to and end the hostilities of WW1
For this reason, on November 11th each year, many people around the world (particularly throughout Britain and the Commonwealth) observe a two minutes silence to commemorate those who lost their lives during WW1.
In addition to this, people in Britain also take part in Remembrance Sunday which is held on the Sunday closest to November 11th
But is one day a year enough?
This is the Menin Gate
Every night at 8pm, the road beneath the Menin Gate is closed to all traffic and the Last Post ceremony is conducted.
This ceremony has continued, nightly, since July 1928. It was only interrupted during the German occupation throughout WW2. Even then, the ceremony was still held, albeit at a different location.
The Menin Gate is but one of an extensive network of memorials and cemeteries throughout France and Belgium - The location of the majority of fighting on the Western Front.
It contains the names of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers that died during the First World War but whose bodies were never found or identified.
Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
La Targette British Cemetery
French National Cemetery
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier -
Arc de Triomphe, Paris.
But it is not only Allied soldiers who are commemorated throughout France and Belgium.
Vladslo German Cemetery
Soldiers who fought against the Allies are also interred in cemeteries throughout the region.
There is one other important means by which the First World War is remembered...
Visits to the battlefields and memorials on the continent are thought to be a highly significant way to learn about, and commemorate, the First World War
Insert edited video discussing government's plans for schoolchildren to visit the Front
A visit to the battlefields allows people to:
Experience historical remnants of the War such as intact trenches, and shell holes
Understand the sheer number of soldiers who lost their lives by visiting some of the more prominent cemeteries
Take part in ceremonies relating to the War - such as the Last Post at the Menin Gate
Some people, including the British government, feel so strongly that such visits are and important method of remembrance, that they are prepared to partly fund such visits for schoolchildren across the UK as part of activities to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
Of course, we know that The First World War was not
'The War to End All Wars'
Just 20 years on from 1918, the Second World War would begin, and the world would sustain even greater losses in terms of human life and infrastructure.
Even so, it should not be forgotten that World War One remains one of the deadliest conflicts ever fought.
The lowest estimates suggest that between 9-15million casualties were sustained by all sides.
Equally, the First World War was just that - the first truly global conflict.
Many people regard WW1 as a conflict fought between the Allies of Britain, France, Russia and the USA, and Germany and her allies.
The sacrifices of others from around the world are often overlooked.
Soldiers from throughout the various European empires were also involved in the conflict.
Within the British empire, this meant that soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa Canada and Newfoundland all fought alongside their British counterparts both on the Western Front, and elsewhere.
Remembrance and commemoration of the First World War is more than just remembering the dates and events...
It is about remembering the sacrifices made by those who died fighting for their country, and for the values that we in modern, Western society hold dear: Democracy, Freedom, Liberty, and Respect
But it is not only soldiers who died on the Front that we remember.
We remember the sacrifices of those left at home:
-Mothers who lost husbands and sons
-Children who lost brothers and fathers
-People around the world who lost their lives and families as a result of the war.
We also remember those who returned, traumatised by the effects of war; suffering from Shell Shock, Trench Foot, the loss of limbs, and other debilitating diseases
We remember in order to demonstrate that the sacrifices of those that experienced the First World War, whether at home or on the Front, were not made in vain.
First World War
Throughout the war various types of weaponry were introduced to the battlefield.
Machine guns replaced, the much more laborious, Gatling guns. They only required a two man team, and were now gas driven and water cooled. They could fire hundreds of rounds a minute, and, were they to be placed efficiently, they could command a forces trench line.
The First World War was arguably the most deadly in history as it was fought in the manner of a nineteenth-century war, but with twentieth-century technologies. Much technological innovation occurred during the war, with deadly consequences for the combatants all nationalities...
Science and Technology
Fire had long since been a weapon of war, however it was not until February 1915 that the flamethrower was first used as a weapon of war. The first modern design of a flamethrower was submitted in 1901 by Richard Fielder, and the weapon was initially tested in 1911. Yet it was German troops near Verdun that first implemented its use. unlike grenades flamethrowers could neutralize enemies within a bunker without compromising its structural integrity.
The word flamethrower is taken from the German word "Flammenwerfer".
After all it was their invention!
As to how significant the tank was towards victory of Germany is of much debate. It was introduced to trench warfare in a desperate attempt to break through the German Wire. Powered by a combustion engine this automobile could advance despite heavy small-arms fire. By 1917 their use was widespread, and were a major asset throughout the Allied offensive of 1918. Germany was however slow to implement their use, a fact rectified by the Nazi regime during the Second World War.
Perhaps one of the most destructive "weapons" of the first world was was developed in 1874, for the purpose of helping cattle farmers keep control of their flocks. Farmer Joseph Glidden refined the idea, making it usable for mile upon mile of terrain. Armies adopted this Glidden's innovation, stringing it across no-man's land with the hopes of tangling the enemy to make them easy pickings for riflemen, machine gunners and snipers.
Poison gas was utilized by both sides during the war, and whilst its implementation was not decisive it was extremely devastating to those individuals on the receiving end.
Many regard the naval arms race between Britain and Germany as being a major factor in causing the First World War
The First World War was the first of its kind to be fought on an industrial scale as nations were well equipped to supply their armies with various innovative equipments, railway networks ensuring that armies were constantly supplied.
Unfortunately for the men fighting on the ground, the powers that be failed to recognise that new technologies introduced to warfare required a re-think of military tactics. Thus the war proved to be the most costly in human history, as men were left to the mercy these deadly innovations.
Mass scale ship building had already been perfected prior to the start of the war. Submarines were also perfected prior to and during the war itself. Germany's declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in February 1917 was the primary factor in triggering American involvement in the conflict.
Radio and telephone technologies enabled forces to communicate over vast spaces of land. However such technology was extremely heavy and thus not suitable for tactical use by ground units. As such the trusty carrier pigeon was still used by military forces.
Initially developed to locate underwater objects such as ice bergs (in the wake of the titanic disaster), hydrophone were adopted by navies attempting to locate German U-boats. Such technologies were, nevertheless, limited in their application as they could only determine the distance of an object and not its actual location. Numerous individuals are varying nationalities attempted to perfect such technology, and it claimed its first U-boat victim in April 1916.
The German U-boat campaign against Allied shipping sank millions of tonnes of cargo and killed tens of thousands of sailors and civilians. In a desperate attempt to combat this menace, allies had to figure out a way of destroying U-boats. The answer was the depth charge, that was constructed so it detonated a certain depths. U-68 was the first submarine to be destroyed by a depth charge, on 22nd March 1916.
War commenced some eleven years after the Wright Brothers inaugural flight, but aviation had made great strides in this time
Airplanes were initially used as reconnaissance craft, replacing the use of hot air balloons
by Ashley Andrew
Soon airplanes were used as fighter craft, intended to deny the enemy dominance of the skies; thus what has been dubbed the "Flying Circus" was born
The most famous pilot of the war was the red Baron, an individual famously parodied in the Charlie Brown cartoons. Manfred von Richthofen was nevertheless no laughing matter for the allies, as he famously shot down a record 80 enemy planes!
When the "Red Baron" was killed in in 1918 the allies gave him a full military funeral and air dropped leaflets demonstrating this commemoration over German lines - First world War chivalry at its height.
Click the above link to find out more about the First World War
1st of July 1916
For a week Britain bombarded the German front line with 1.6 million shells.
Many of the shells failed to go, having no impact.
When artillery fire stopped the Germans set up their machine guns, they were expecting an attack.
The German trenches were massively fortified in preparation. They moved underground and waited, after the whistle blew, signaling the attack, they took their positions.
In the first day Britain suffered 60,000 casualties. 20,000 of those died. It was Britain's largest single lost.
Overall, Britain lost 420,000, France lost 195,000 and Germany lost 650,000.
A renewed attack saw the British roll out the tanks.
However they made little to no difference.
15th September 1916
Torrential rain in October brought the conditions on the front to a muddy quagmire.
There was a stalemate that lasted two months.
Whole PALS Battalion's who had all signed up from one area together had died.
88,000 men were lost for every mile of territory gained.
Political and social consequences would effect Britain. Talk of a whole generation being lost.
Britain was still depending on the cavalry. General Haig said that they were a very important part of the army and envisioned that they would be used for years to come. He said said airplanes and tanks were just 'tools' in war.
This lead people to question Haig's tactics as many saw the battle as a slaughter.
'The General Situation is Favourable' was the headline for The Daily Mirror.
The Battle in the Press
First hand account
The next morning we gunners surveyed the dreadful scene in front of us, it became clear that the Germans always had a commanding view of No Man's Land. The attack had been brutally repulsed. Hundreds of dead were strung out like wreckage washed up to a high water mark. Quite as many died on the enemy wire as on the ground, like fish caught in the net. They hung their in grotesque postures. Some looked as if they were praying; they had died on their knees and wire had prevented their fall. Machine gun fire had done its terrible work.
George Coppard, machine gunner at the Battle of the Somme
The Third Battle of Ypres also known as Passchendaele
31st July- 10th November 1917
The Battle took place in West Flanders, Belgium.
The Battle ended thanks to to Canadian Corps capturing Passchendaele.
This battle is famous for the casualties and for the mud.
Representations of the First World War in the arts.
How was the war portrayed in:
"We Don't Want to Lose You, but We Think You Ought to Go".
The Start of the War
With the outbreak of war in 1914 the music industry responded with songs designed to induce men to sign up.
Songs such as, "Now You've Got the Khaki On" and "We Don't Want to Lose You, but We Think You Ought to Go", were popular numbers.
How did the increasing death toll effect this outlook?
With the rising numbers of deaths after the first few months of war, the recruitment songs all but disappeared.
Lyrics now spoke of a longing for the wars end.
Songs such as, "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier" were now being sung at anti-war protest meetings in 1916.
Music Hall managers, worried about the revocation of their licenses, could not allow this freedom of expression. They were therefore limited to playing songs that were clearly sarcastic in nature, such as "Oh It's a Lovely War".
"Oh It's a Lovely war" - Lyrics
Up to your waist in water,
Up to your eyes in slush,
Using the kind of language,
That makes the sergeant blush.
Who wouldn't join the army?
That's what we all inquire;
Don't we pity the poor civilian,
Sitting beside the fire.
The artistic community used the war to construct images which exemplified the horrors of the battlefield.
John Singer Sergeant drew one of the most iconic depictions of the conditions of war in 1919. His painting, "Gassed", depicts two groups of soldiers approaching a dressing station after a Mustard Gas attack. The graphic depictions of the blind soldiers and the deceased around their feet, is a clear window into the brutalities of the battlefront. Sergeant's drawing of a football match in the background also serves to emphasise the routine nature of this event, as the soldiers colleagues cannot continually stop play for the injured.
Cartoonists often produced propaganda pieces during the war, saterising the wars developments to provide humerous observations with a clear political message.
Cartoons were regularly printed in magazines and newspapers such as "Punch" and "The Daily Graphic".
One of the most popular was produced by Henry Frederick Townsend. "No Throughfare" was drawn as a reaction to the German invasion of Belgium. Depicting Belgium as a small child, the cartoon attempts to portray Germany as the 'bully', to induce patriotism from the British audience.
The role of Empire...
The British Government knew its armed forces were too small to take on the central powers.
So... The Empire called for volunteers from
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland
and the Union of South Africa.
90% of Australians had a British background and still perceived themselves as British. They saw the British Empire as superior. However they naively believed that the war would be over before they got a chance to be apart of it.
By 1914, 50,000 had volunteered. Australian soldiers took part in many battles, their most famous one being at Galipoli. However this particular campaign failed due to poor military leadership, inexperience of troops, and inadequate equipment.
The Empire sent more than 2.5 million troops who also served in the Royal Navy and the Royal flying corps.
Poetry flourished during the First World War and was not just produced by pre-existing poets.
Catherine W. Reilly has counted 2,225 English poets of the First World War, of whom 1,808 were civilians.
The poems tended to centre upon the horror of war and anger against its protagonists.
Two of the best known poets of the period were John McCrae and Wilfred Owen. MaCrae wrote 'In Flanders Fields' in 1915 and Owen wrote 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' two years later. These poems are still read at memorial events today.
"Australians will stand beside our own to help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling." - Andrew Fisher Labour leader 1914.
Canada contributed the most troops with over 600,000 volunteering. These soldiers took part in many famous battles including the Somme.
However there was a wave of mixed opinions in Canada as to whether it should join Britain in the war. Some believed that they were obliged to serve the British interests as Empire was a strong part of their national identity. As others in French Canada did not wish to join and did not see themselves as British.
The Africans were treated very differently to the other Empire countries as many were used to carry heavy weapon and supplies. The soldiers were also given poor quality food and were greatly effected by sickness due to traveling in different territories
However many believed that they should not fight for the Empire as many South Africans were still angered by the treatment they endured during the Boer War. A large number of them questioned the imperial connection.
Despite this, over two million troops volunteered from Africa and many believed the war was able to strengthen the bond between the two.
Many works were printed regarding life during the war and afterwards.
Some novelists were used during the war to produce propaganda stories.
This included Alfred Noyes, who joined the Foreign Office in 1916. He wrote morale-boosting short stories recalling England's military past and asserting the morality of her cause.
His work included "The Lusitania Waits" and "The Log of the Evening Star".
Books were, of course, also written purely for entertainment purposes, with the war providing a perfect setting to capture the public's interest.
Henri Barbusse's 1916 novel, "Under Fire", sold over 250,000 copies by the wars end, and Erich Maria Remarque's, "All Quiet on the Western Front", sold 4 million copies by 1930..
Cinema in Germany
Most countries used cinema as a means of social control (to distract the populous from the realities of war) and as a means to promote patriotism.
Germany was one of the first countries to realise the big screens persuasive potential.
Cinema flourished in Germany during the war, with the number of production companies increasing five fold.
Patriotic films often depicted the Kaiser as the hero.
Germany also launched a secret film campaign in the U.S. in an effort to promote U.S. neutrality. German officials set up The American Correspondent Film Company for this reason.
Cinema in Britain
Britain realised cinemas potential later than Germany.
Britain created the War Office Cinematograph Committee (WOCC) in November 1916, which provided an institutional framework to persuade domestic and foreign audiences of the morality of their case.
Like Germany, Britain attempted to gain U.S. support through film. Charles Urban, a British film producer, released 'Britain Prepared' and 'The Battle of the Somme' in America in 1916.
Cinema in America
America's entry into the war in 1917 brought attempts to persuade domestic audiences of its necessity.
At first the US used pre-existing British films such as 'The Tanks in Action at the Battle of the Ancre' and 'The Retreat of the Germans at the Battle of Arras'.
However, America did produce its own films. The creation of the Committee on Public Information's, 'Division of Films' in 1917, helped to produce 'America’s Answer' and 'Under Four Flags'.
The Legacy of the Great War in Cinema and Television
It seems cinema and television still share a fascination with this period.
Television programs such as, 'Downton Abbey', and films such as, 'Warhorse', exemplify this fascination. They are being shown worldwide, to audiences of millions.
The Cast of Downton Abbey
The final phase, the advance on Passchendaele, took place in October and November, the aim being to take the strategically important high ground of the Passchendaele ridge. The first battle of Passchendaele, on the 12th October, failed to take the village, and the second battle of Passchendaele lasted from the 26th of October until the 10th of November
The flatness of the plain made stealth impossible: as with the Somme, the Germans knew an attack was imminent and the initial bombardment served as final warning. It lasted two weeks, with 4.5 million shells fired from 3,000 guns, but again failed to destroy the heavily fortified German positions. the heaviest rain for 30 years had turned the soil into a quagmire, producing thick mud that clogged up rifles and immobilised tanks. It eventually became so deep that men and horses drowned in it. Further attacks in October failed to make much progress. The eventual capture of what little remained of Passchendaele village by British and Canadian forces on 6 November finally gave Haig an excuse to call off the offensive and claim success. It had taken over three months, 325,000 Allied and 260,000 German casualties to do little more than make the bump of the Ypres salient somewhat larger.
Dardanelles Campaign or The Battle for Gallipoli
This Battle took place on the Gallipoli peninsula, in the Ottoman Empire. The aim was to secure a sea route to Russia.
A naval and amphibious operation was launched as well as a land operation which all failed with many casualties on both sides. The invasion force was made to re assemble in Egypt.
A Major Failure
For the Allies, this Battle was considered a 'major failure'.
A victory for the Ottoman Empire, this battle is considered a defining moment in Turkish history. It was seen as the final surge in the defence of the motherland, The Ottoman Empire.
In Flanders Fields
The naval attack began on 19 February. Bad weather caused delays and the attack was abandoned after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged. Military assistance was required, but by the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had had ample time to prepare adequate fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.
WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT?
WHAT IS IT?
Propaganda was not just a way of justifying each nation's participation in the war to its own population. It was also a means for recruiting men, money and resources to help sustain the military campaign. In 1914 Britain only had a small professional army, and it did not have policy of national service. With so many men being killed over seas, the country needed fresh soliders to replace them. The war time posters were important for attracting men from the populace to join the country's cause.
Propaganda posters also sought funds from the general public. They encouraged people to subscribe to various war time bond schemes. Bonds, which were an investment in certain markets such as steel, quite similarly to holding shares today.The bonds helped to finance military operations and war time expenditures.
WHY WAS IT SO SUCCESSFUL?
It was crucial to all war time efforts, that the national cause was promoted everywhere people looked. Throughout history, pictures had always been used as a way to teach people and communicate ideas. The first world war was no different. Pictures were important for those who did not read news articles or have televisions.
WAS PROPAGANDA JUST POSTERS?
No - although it was the widely circulated, there were other forms of propaganda. In particular, messages were broadcasted on the radio and TV, on postcards, in newspaper articles, books, pamphlets, photographs, art, films and speeches.
Propaganda is a type of communication aimed at communicating one side of an argument or situation. It is usually repeated and circulated through communities, in a wide range of media to ensure that the message is recieved by the target audience.
This poster was designed to convince the audience that the Germans were like satan - evil and sent from hell to prey on the weak and vulnerable people in society.
As you can guess, propaganda did not aim to tell the truth. Often, the messages that they portrayed were complete fabrications in order to encourage men to sign up to the army. When facts were presented, they were selected carefully and were exaggerated or corrupted to promote an emotional rather than rational response from its audience.
Do you think these facts are true?
add woonderful war video clip
DID OTHER COUNTRIES USE PROPAGANDA?
Most countries did use propaganda to appeal for more men to replace the numbers in the depleting armies. Unlike Britain, conscription was a standard policy in pre-war Germany. However, this was not to say that the German government did not still appeal for more men and for justifying their national cause. In France, when war broke out, the French government was prompt in advertising for more men while also pleading the french cause. In Russia, there was already vast man power at the government's disposal, and so it did not need to resort to recruitment propaganda. It did however, produce propaganda to encourage people to invest in governement bonds.
Here are two examples of German propaganda posters. Germany harked back to its traditional roots of mythology and sagas. This distinctive imagry meant that it was common to depict dragons. It reinforced feelings of patriotism in Germany and reminded people of their strong roots, boosting social morale.
WHO PRODUCED BRITISH PROPAGANDA?
Almost immediately after the declaration of the war, David Lloyd George was charged with setting up a War Propaganda Bureau. The WPB needed to find a way to attract recruits for the army and the navy. He decided that propaganda could be used for a number of purposes:
To keep up morale
To encourage people to give their time and money
To portray the enemy as an evil that needed to be fought
To recruit more soldiers
To stop information being published that might help the enemy
To psycologically dishearten enemy troops
To provide the public with a government filtered version of the war
Which do you think was the most important?
Some of the most popular writers in Britain were asked to participate in a conference on how written propaganda should be used. You might recognise some of these writers - Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Cinan Doyle, H.G.Wells, and many more. They wrote stories and leaftlets to persuade the public to help the war effort.
Author of, The War of the Worlds
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
Author of, Sherlock Holmes
Author of The Jungle Book
This particular example of propaganda was produced in response to the sinking of the Cunard liner RMS Lusitania by a German U-Boat in May 1915 which killed 1,198 civilians. The woman represents justice, who is vulnerable and needs defending
Published in 1915 at the request of the British Parliamentry Recruiting Commitee, this is an example of the appeals to patriotism that propaganda exploited. It was desinged to prompt men who had not yet enlisted by reminding them that their beautiful country is worth defending.
'This poster demonstrates that recruitment was not limited to just British men. It attempts to foster a sense of unity between countrys of the British Empire against the enemy. The mature lion symbollises Great Britain as the head of the united countries, supported by the younger lions which represent the over seas dominions.