“Back” by Wilfred Gibson
They ask me where I’ve been,
And what I’ve done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn’t I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands…
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.
This source is a literary sources and it is a poem call “Back” by Wilfred Gibson. This poem was written during WW1 as he was alive for this period of time.
The poem is about a changed man who has returned from war. It is as though he is separate from the soldier who was forced to kill. He recognizes his guilt from deeds he has done but at the same time is aware he is not that man. This poem is in part of his healing process.
This source is a cartoon, which falls under artwork. This cartoon was produced during the period of the war.
This cartoon is mocking the conditions of trenches yet making a point about what it was like. Many of the men on the battlefront lived in trenches. When it rained these trenches were filled with water. The cartoon is trying to explain that when trenches were filled with water, they were almost ‘lost’.
This source is a newspaper article. This newspaper was published at the time of the war.
Many men volunteered to go to war however there was a certain age. This source gives us an idea of the how young the soldiers were and how many people thought it was important to serve their country at least once.
This source is a visual source. It is a photograph of the women at work at the war. This was produced at the time of the war.
Many women volunteered for war as nurses or engineers. They had to leave their home to come and look after the injured. They suffered from psychological traumas from the experiences from the war and the wounds of the men.
What was life like for women and men on the battle front?
Life on the battle front was tough. Many young men, even teenagers, were forced to partake in this war. Though seen as a tragedy, WWI had both positive and negative outcomes. Technology had advanced in many areas such as Weaponry, Logistical support, intelligence, Medicine and Industry. Canned food was also produced for the soldiers.
Negatives included the living conditions, they were terrible and there were many diseases and injured soldiers to take care of. The environment of the trenches was an unhealthy addition to the problems; it was cold and damp and was often flooded and muddy. Rats in their millions infested trenches devouring themselves on human remains. These rats could grow to the size of a cat. Lice from the rats were also breeding in the seams of filthy clothing and causing men to itch uncontrollably. Even though their clothes were regularly washed, some lice eggs remained hidden in the seams; and a few hours after the soldiers had re-worn the clothing, their body heat would cause the lice eggs to hatch. This Later caused Trench Fever. Frogs, slugs and horned beetles were also a problem as they crowed the base and the sides of the trenches. Trench Foot was another medical condition that was unique to the trench life. It was a fungal infection on the feet that was caused by the cold, wet and unsanitary conditions of the trenches. These decaying feet often resulted in amputation.
Patrolling no man’s land was also a dangerous task resulting in many other injuries. Some patrols would be sent out to repair or add barbed wire to their front line and others would go out assigned to listening posts and hope to pick up valuable information from the enemy lines. But sometimes enemy patrols would meet and then they were faced with the option of hurrying on their separate ways or they would engage in hand to hand combat fighting. They would do this because they could not afford to use their handguns while patrolling as they feared the machine guns’ firing would attract unwanted attention leading to the deaths of all members of that patrol.
Some of this was made easier by the role women played in WW1. Before the war, it was commonly believed that a woman’s place was in the home. But during the war, some women would help by spending their time knitting socks for the troops, rolling bandages and getting medical kits and that ready, or raising money for war causes. Others would assist as nurses at the front line. Many of these women suffered from psychological traumas from the experiences of the war and the wounds of the men. Women who were left behind were constantly waiting for their sons, husband, brothers, fathers, or their friends to return. And with the lack of communication, the most common way woman received news from the war was through a clergyman who would appear at their doorstep, they would often be giving them the news of their loved one’s death. This was very traumatizing and caused lot of grief. Women also had to deal with their children and family responsibilities at home, as well as shortages of resources such as food.
Once the war ended, the British government had passed the Representation of the People Act which gave women the right to vote. Now women over the age of 30 were either householders or married to householders and were allowed to vote. Later in the year, women were given the right to be elected to Parliament.
This is the negatives and positives of what life was like for men and women at the battle front.
By Gina Wilkinson & Chloe Bovim