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A look at the major events during the first world war i

Download documents and transcripts Teachers' notes There are 32 letters and 16 photographs in this resource. All letters have been transcribed, and selected letters have an audio version too. The documents should offer students a chance to develop their powers of evaluation and analysis. Teachers may also wish to use the collection to develop their own resources. You may spot spelling or grammatical errors in the transcripts as we have transcribed the letters as they stand.

Unusual or technical terms have been defined within the text. However, we have not included full images for several letters as these would have proved too difficult to read online. In such cases we have shown part of the letter in order to provide a sense of the original.

For this reason is it is helpful to see the letters as a whole group to get the most out of them and appreciate the nature of the collection. We have labelled each letter according to a theme from the First World War. For example, some letter writers have detailed their experience of the trenches, injury, or active service in the Dardanelles and India or training prior going abroad.

Others have touched on the technology of war, the movement of troops or conditions at the railheads in France. Railheads were the nearest points to the front from which men and supplies travelled by train and were then taken to the battle line by motor vehicle or horse. The Great Western Railway Company formed four companies of Royal Engineers as many men from the company, including these clerical workers from Paddington, had enlisted to serve.

How did these men experience the conflict?

Due to their knowledge and understanding of the railways, many became Railway Troops based at railheads. Some soldiers mentioned having received the magazine or asked for it to be sent out. It included photographs of all those who served in the First World War from the GWR as a whole and employees could catch up on company business and news of sporting or social events.

A chronology of the events that led to the start of the First World War

Carry out research on the life of an individual soldier. Student work could be presented via various media for example Powerpoint Presentation, video film, radio documentary, newspaper article, role play interview, poster, blog, web page or classroom exhibition. How does their experience of the First World War vary amongst these letter writers? What training was carried out before they were sent to fight?

The First World War: how did it start and who was to blame?

How did the men feel about their experience of training? Do you get a sense of what these soldiers miss from home? Describe conditions for those in the trenches on Western Front.

What were conditions like for those who were sent to the Dardanelles? How was the treatment of the sick or injured organized at home and abroad?

Do any soldiers give their opinion about the war? Do you think these men are typical of those who went to war?

  • The Great Western Railway Company formed four companies of Royal Engineers as many men from the company, including these clerical workers from Paddington, had enlisted to serve;
  • By the end of 1918 the German kaiser was deposed and had fled into exile, the Russian tsar and his children had been executed by revolutionaries, and the British king presided over "a broken, debt-ridden empire," Davenport-Hines says;
  • The Royal Navy at the time was regarded as the most powerful in the world, although its primary purpose was not military, but the protection of trade;
  • CNN lists these key developments;
  • The Royal Navy at the time was regarded as the most powerful in the world, although its primary purpose was not military, but the protection of trade.

Can we find out anything about the characters of the men who fought from these letters? Have you found anybody who has written more than once, or spot any links between the letters which highlight particular friendships? Considering who the soldiers are writing to, can you explain if this has influenced the tone or style of the letters? Can you discover a difference between what is being said and how it is being said in any of the letters? Working with images When studying the photographs and postcards in the collection, it is helpful to explore the idea that they were produced to provide a particular message.

Pupils ought to consider the purpose and audience for which these sources were intended. Thus for photographs it is useful to look at key aspects of their composition such as lighting, pose, background, foreground, formality, lack of formality and so on and evaluate the original caption if given. Connections to the curriculum Key stage 3: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day. The Making of the Modern World: Unit 1 Peace and War International Relations 1900-1991.

Teachers could use these letters to support contextual study. Many men enlisted from the GWR to fight, but these letters come exclusively from those worked at its Audit office.

Staff at Paddington covered a range of different roles in insurance, accounting or ticketing for the Great Western Railway. They are arranged in 12 carefully bound folders, rather like a series of scrapbooks.

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Starting from August 1915, each part represented what was known as the office newsletter, a collection of letters, photographs postcards, field cards and contemporary newspaper cuttings from those who had gone to fight. Every newsletter opened with a news section listing those who had written and sent photos to the office and those who recently left to company to serve at the front. The totals of all men in khaki from the Audit office were given too. The news section also provided information about those who had died, been injured, visited the office on leave or been promoted.

The July Crisis: A chronology

The newsletters were circulated within the office departments and read by men when they came home on leave. Friends or relatives who had been sent their own letters or photographs often lent them or typed them out to be circulated as part of the regular Audit office newsletter.

The Audit office raised enough money through collections and the sale of Christmas cards, to create a temporary roll of honour for the office at Paddington to commemorate those who had fallen in battle by August 1915. Photographs of the Roll of Honour were sent out to several employees as their correspondence reveals. After the war had ended and troops had returned, the GWR was able to quantify the contribution that it had made to the cause.

The contribution made by the Audit office was high: This amounted to 184 men, 17 of whom lost their lives.