On the battlefield: World War One

Lesson Rationale

In this lesson, students are encouraged to explore the realities of war. They will discuss how the men that fought went into battle on the Western Front and the impact it had on them in terms of fear, injury and death. Students will reflect on the idea of comradeship but also the isolation of preparing for and being in a battle.

Through the use of predominantly visual images, the students will be asked to consider the reality of being in combat. They will also reflect on what that must have felt like to those who volunteered or were conscripted to serve.

Please note that some of the images are of bodies – the images are not degrading or gruesome but they are genuine. Please consider the nature of your presentation of these contents and the responses of the students.

Key questions

  • How comfortable do the trenches look in the photographs?
  • There are a number of pictures of the men going ‘over the top’ into battle. How
    dangerous does it look?
  • What are your impressions of a real battlefield?
  • In the sources listed above, there are two pictures of men taking part in religious
    services on the battlefield. Why do you think they are motivated to do this?
  • What are the students’ thoughts on the likelihood of being seriously injured in conflict? Three out of five infantry soldiers fighting for Britain were injured in some way in World War One. Nearly one in six of those who fought for Britain during World War One
    were killed.
  • How do you think soldiers prepare themselves for the fact that they or their
    friends/family might be seriously injured or killed?