I came across this on classroom clichés of the First World War and wondered what people thought. Teaching the First World War.
How do you introduce the First World War to students?
- Blackadder - shown in all classrooms in Secondary Schools.
- The movie 'Gallipoli' - the last five minutes shown in nearly all Secondary Schools.
- Mud - taught in most classrooms under the assumption that the rain began on 4 August 1914 and did not stop until 11 November 1918.
- Tommy - having lied about his age is trying to come to terms with not only the weight of his equipment but also the weight of having been duped into becoming a ‘victim’. And he was then shot at dawn because he got shell shock.
- Machine Guns - which only the Germans had, perfect instruments for skittling ‘Tommies’ who walked very slowly towards the enemy, most machine guns being used, of course, on 1 July 1916.
- Officers - all public school, and all stupid!
And to add to the controversy I'd add these 'howlers':
- It wasn't Germany's fault. This is disingenuous as a nation should not be blamed, though the rank militarism of Germany for decades didn't help. Though not an absolute monarch like the Tsar, Wilhelm II still had significant power that he controlled in a tight group. He, and a handful of like-mined Prussians can and should be blamed for chasing after a war that they believed they could win, and should get finished and won sooner rather than later.
- It all started with Princip murdering Archduke Ferdinand. A better way to think of the first months of the 'Great War' is to call it the 'Third Balkan War.' Fighting amongst peoples seeking nationhood against the domination of empires was common place and had been brewing for many decades.
- The Somme Battle took place in one day, and was over before breakfast with hundreds of thousands dead. 1916 and the entire war can be summed up this event/moment, from the British perspective only, under Haig's command, on 1st July 1916. Far from being futile, and far from being a British operation, it was under direction from the French Army and both before, during and afterwards tough lessons were being learnt on how to win the 'impossible' war to get Germany off French and Belgian soil.
- Haig was a donkey, all the 'poor bloody infantry' lions and all commanding officers useless. (Far from it, the COs were experienced and well educated in military thinking of the age while amongst the infantry the 'volunteers' considered the conscripts to be useless.
- Only the ANZACS fought at Gallipoli (The French, and British were there ... oh, and the Turks and a German officer advising them).
- Gallipoli was all Churchill's fault (the War Cabinet were behind it).
- The Christmas Truce. A no man's land version of the world cup: England vs. Germany. (The iconic photographs were taken in Salonika, not on the Western Front).