Source analysis, wwi

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source analysis written by a level 4 students

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Source analysis, wwi

  1. 1. Source Analysis sample (adapted from an analysis written by Cata P. in level 4A) We buried them behind the trench. One gets very callous I find. It was a poor sort of funeral, no service, nothing; just an old greatcoat over the face … Naturally one wishes to bury the body as far back from the trench as possible, but one doesn’t much like leaving the shelter of the parapet, because of the risk of a stray bullet, so the graves are dug just about two yards behind the trench. From the diary of Billy Congreve. He kept his personal diary from 1914 until he was killed in 1916. It is a primary source because it was written between 1914 and 1916, which is the time we are studying now. It was written by a soldier while they were at war on December 17th, 1914. At that time, the war had just begun and when the soldier produced the source, he was at a burial, where the soldiers did not have a proper burial, not an honorable burial, or not the burial they deserved for being so brave. The purpose of this source is to demonstrate how poor the burials were and how dishonored soldiers died: “no service, nothing; just an old greatcoat over the face”. The author wanted to show what burials at those times were like and how they affected their way of living. Because there was “risk of a stray bullet” if bodies were taken far away, they were buried close to the trenches, so the smell was terrible and rats came as a plague. This source is part of a soldier’s diary. At that time, soldiers kept diaries and also wrote letter to their families, although sometimes these letters were censored. This source is valuable because it is a firsthand account and the historians can understand a lot and get into the soldiers’ shoes. We see that they when they were at war they could be killed at any moment, they were ill and lived in the worst conditions, the smell was also terrible. Its limitations are that as it is a primary source it is rather subjective and as the soldier was living the situation at the moment and he did not know what was going to happen later, or if the soldiers would be respected and honored in the future, he could have exaggerated things, so it seems that things where much more terrible than they probably were. If it was a secondary source, it could be more reliable because the war would have already finished, so we know that enemies were not all the time waiting behind the trenches for soldiers to leave their protection, but we also know that as they were shot often, so risk was present anyway.

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