WWI – The Human Experience.

“I shall not easily forget those long winter nights in the front line. Darkness fell about four in the afternoon and dawn was not until eight next morning. These sixteen hours of blackness were broken by gun flashes, the gleam of star shells and punctuated by the scream of a shell or the sudden heart-stopping rattle of a machine-gun. The long hours crept by with leaden feet and sometimes it seemed as if time itself was dead.”

F. Noakes, in ‘The Distant Drum’

In pairs, watch one of the documentaries from the BBC on the Great war.



1. A short commentary on the content of the movie you watched.

2. A paragraph explaining the relationship between the movie and the diary entry.

3. Prepare the reading of the poem. Find good links to the analysis or background information of the poem.

4. Two questions for someone who is going to watch the movie.

5. A personal opinion about what the movie has taught you related to the “human experience” of war.

6. A detailed glossary containing the specific vocabulary included in the chapter you analysed.

For the end of this lesson, a bonus, a gift, a song in the hope that the stupidity of war is not repeated by our younger generations.

The Xmas truce of 1914.

“It was a day of peace in war,” commented a German participant, “It is only a pity that it was not decisive peace.”

One of the most remarkable incidents in history was the impromptu truce that took place on the Western Front on Christmas Day 1914. Beginning late on Christmas Eve, the entrenched British and German troops began serenading each other with songs and carols. By the next day a full truce was on, with soldiers and officers from both sides fraternizing and exchanging gifts. There was even an international soccer match played with teams comprised of warring soldiers. On December 26, 1914 the First World War started again. How sad. Ninety-four years later, in 2008, soldiers from the same opposing regiments reenacted the famous Christmas Truce in the same location.

In 1983, Paul McCartney wrote a beautiful song about this amazing event in History.

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5 Responses to WWI – The Human Experience.

  1. Belen Irazusta, Antonia Flores Piran, Delfina Subira y Agustin Campion says:

    1- We think the video was very interesting because it has a lot of details of what the zero hour was and all that moment that the soldiers lived when they were waiting very nervous, excited and scared the time to attack. We also think that the photos are great and they are very realistic, and that lets us see how it was actually.

    2-The two of them are explaining when the soldiers were waiting for zero hour. They are telling us how they felt, what were they thinking about (friends, family, the places they visited, the things that they did in the past) and they also describe to us what things they did at that time, like writing letters to friends or family, some of them writing their testaments and checking equipment. Then the officer said that only 15 minutes were missing, so there is a great stir and excitement, they checked arms and equipment and then it was time to go to no man’s land.

    3-It was in the morning, the sun was rising. There was a lot of smoke. The menacing scarred (it’s a way of saying they were going to be hurt). Then the soldiers with the arms and the equipment, they climbed to the surface to meet the dangerous fire. The soldiers are very scared. They went out of their trenches. They had hope and they were ready to attack and they asked God to stop the war.

    Quotes we found of the poem:
    -I’ve studied it, it describes the real state of soldiers who endure great difficulities,
    I was there, seeing, listening to everything, the poet forces us to live among his words.
    -This poem is so powerful and really proves the reality of war and the true awfulness that the men had to encounter.
    -One major technique that the author uses in order to convey the horror of the battlefield and what it seemed to be like to be in an attack is literal and figurative imagery.
    -The poem is described in a very vivid way which makes the reader think that the author himself witnessed the scene
    4- What was the ZERO HOUR?
    What were the feelings the soldiers had when they were waiting for this?
    5- We learned how cruel the reality can be and that we complain about everything, for example because we don’t have the t-shirt we want, and all these soldiers that were suffering without their families and friends, living in terrible conditions and becoming crazy there in war.

  2. Majo Tear , Francisco Okecki , Nacho Rela and Sofia Teran says:


    The movie is very vivid and specific, because it expresses how soldiers reacted and felt about the gas attack, it makes it very vivid because it has sounds and voices of the soldiers that were at war, also it has images of the time. In addition, it also has poetry. This poem in particular also is very vivid. There were different types of gas.
    The diary entry is the story of a soldier, his experience with a gas attack. The story was: There was a gas attack and the officer medical and the coronel were affected so during the morning they were carried away on the stretchers. The rest of the soldiers stayed in the trenches all day.
    Wilfred Owen was a Captain of the British Army so in his poems his negative attitudes towards the effects of war on the soldiers are shown. “Dulce et Decorum Est” uses a variety of powerful poetic devices in order to show death in war as a brutal and horrifying experience.
    http://chelm.freeyellow.com/dede1.html http://www.slideshare.net/Pato_Ch/majo-tear http://www.slideshare.net/Pato_Ch/mili-b-sebas-and-fran
    a) why does the bell is ring?
    b) where was the first gas attack?
    c) what were the types of gas in war?
    d) Analyze the poem “Dulce et decorum est”.
    They were exposed to very bad conditions, they were very tired and they had lots of attacks that ended in death. They didn´t have a lot of food and the little food they had was not very healthy and they had to see how their friends suffered and there was very bad hygiene .

  3. sebastian borda group 6 says:

    GROUP 6

    1. A short commentary on the content of the movie you watched.
    The movie was very sad because you see soldiers dead, suffering and the description that the old soldiers make are very specific.
    2. A paragraph explaining the relationship between the movie and the diary entry.
    2 What the diary and the movie have in common is that they both talk about the work the nurses did. And they also describe the injuries the soldiers had. Another thing is that they say that the work they did was a very ghastly one.
    3. Prepare the reading of the poem. Find good links to the analysis or background information of the poem.
    3 http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm
    4. Two questions for someone who is going to watch the movie.
    4 What was the nurse’s specific job in this movie?
    5. A personal opinion about what the movie has taught you related to the “human experience” of war.
    5 What the movie taught me is that war is not a good time you should experience .

  4. 1.The living conditions in the trenches were notoriously harsh. Life in the trenches was horrible for many reason, one of them was they saw people dying; you could find bodies of dead soldiers. There were rats, lice which carried a lot of illnesses and sometimes you could lose an arm or leg .They heard the rats everywhere. Like rats ate dead bodies they were much bigger than the normal ones. There was also an illness called trench foot that if someone stayed a lot of time in the water of the trenches your foot could get blue and you could lose it. Soldiers slept very little and in a bad way because they were in danger of being killed by the enemy. At night they could only see the lights of the rifles shooting and hear the soldiers yelling because they were dying.

    2. The relationship between the movie and the diary entry is that both of them described life in trenches and how the trenches were. It said that they were: disgusting, unhealthy, untidy, horrible and dangerous; also they talk about illnesses, rats and lice.

    3. Siegfried describes a soldier, whose senses have been compromised, desperately trying to escape from the contaminated underground tunnels to the firm night air of the battlefield. There is a real sense of urgency and terror, in this poem. This poem is biographical; so it is possible that the “he” in the poem is someone that Sassoon knew or Siegfried was talking about himself in the third person.

    Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
    He winked his prying torch with patching glare
    From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

    Tins, boxes, bottles, shapes too vague to know,
    A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed;
    And he, exploring fifty feet below
    The rosy gloom of battle overhead.

    Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw someone lie
    Humped at his feet, half-hidden by a rug,
    And stooped to give the sleeper’s arm a tug.
    “I’m looking for headquarters.” No reply.
    “God blast your neck!” (For days he’d had no sleep.)
    “Get up and guide me through this stinking place.”
    Savage, he kicked a soft, unanswering heap,
    And flashed his beam across the livid face
    Terribly glaring up, whose eyes yet wore
    Agony dying hard ten days before;
    And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.
    Alone he staggered on until he found
    Dawn’s ghost that filtered down a shafted stair
    To the dazed, muttering creatures underground
    Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound.
    At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,
    He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,
    Unloading hell behind him step by step.

    4. What was the trench foot? explain
    How were the health conditions?

    5. The movie shows us the horrible experience of living in a trench, the illnesses and also show us how big and dangerous the rats were.

  5. Nico Araya, Paka Muller and Emi Molmenti says:

    The movie talks about a soldier who goes on a night patrol to the German front line. He talks about his experience with the rest of the patrol and how much he suffered. He saw a German soldier but he got nervous and his heart started beating very fast so he finally didn’t shoot.

    The first paragraphs of the diary say what is said in the movie. In the movie you can notice the tone of the soldier’s voice, and you can see some pictures that describe what he’s saying. The diary says the same as the movie but in other words.

    3. http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/show/48261-Siegfried-Sassoon-A-Working-Party
    These are good links for the analysis of the poem.

    4. Why does the soldier not kill the German soldier?
    Which were the duties of the soldiers in the night patrol?

    5. It taught us that soldiers at the trenches or at the night action usually got nervous and did things wring. For example, the soldier on the patrol who got nervous and couldn’t shoot the enemy soldier.

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