Life in the Trenches

Video – the development of the trench system in the First World War

The development of the trench system, and the soldiers’ experience.

Second Battle of Ypres

First large-scale gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres, 1915

A description of the first large-scale use of poison gas in WW1 that marked the start of the Second Battle of Ypres.

John McCrae

‘In Flanders Fields’ – the historical background to the poem

On 3 May 1915, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae wrote the war poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, which inspired the symbol of the poppy to commemorate members of the military killed in war.

The soldiers’ experience of World War 1 – History File video extract

An extract from the excellent BBC History File series aimed at students aged 11-16 that looks at key events of WW1 including the shift to ‘world war’, the development and experience of trench warfare, and the role of Douglas Haig.

PART 1

PART 2

Conditions for generals in WW1

Sarcastic account of conditions for generals in WW1 by a dispatch rider

This newspaper cutting from The Times on 20th November 1914 can be useful source for revealing attitudes of some regular soldiers towards their commanding officers. While not directly critical, the writer’s final sentence contains some evident sarcasm!

A Cambridge undergraduate, who is acting as a motorcycle dispatch-rider, sends home the following account of his experiences after being wounded:-

I was pushing off the next field, when four big shrapnel shells burst near by, searching for a battery, but all they found was my left foot, which got in the way of a piece. I was very annoyed about it for the moment, but by the time I had hobbled a mile and a half, and found the destination of the message I carried, I was resigned to my fate. A pal of mine cut my boot off and put a field dressing round my foot, and the kind-hearted old general let his car carry me off to a field ambulance. It’s rotten for generals out there, you know; they get worried stiff – poor old chaps, and get loads and loads of responsibility and anxiety and have to sit about all day in cold, damp ditches and splinter-proof shelters, and fume and scheme, and feed on bread and chicken and ham paste and sardines.

Download a copy of the original cutting here.

Christmas Truce

Video about the WW1 Christmas Truce, including an interview with a survivor

Christmas Football match

The Christmas Truce and Britain vs. Germany football match

The Horrible Histories account of the Christmas Truce and a fictional account of a football match in No Man’s Land.  For ideas on how to teach the Christmas Truce and the idea of WW1 football, please see this comprehension lesson outline and set of resource.

Winter in the trenches and trench food

Vimy Ridge

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge was a 7km ridge that had been held by the Germans since the Race to the Sea in 1914.

Battle of the Somme

The end of the Battle of the Somme

On the 18th November 1916, the Battle of the Somme ended when German troops retired from the final large British attack at the Battle of the Ancre amid worsening weather.