Were the British soldiers lions led by donkeys?

Essay by AnigHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2004

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The question "were the British soldiers 'Lions led by Donkeys?'" has been an ongoing debate since the end of the war. A war which is dominated by images of bloody battles such as the Somme and Passchendaele - futile frontal attacks against the machine guns.

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the troops were 'lions led by donkeys'. The definition that the soldiers were 'lions' in the war has never been questioned - due to the horrific reports of their lives in the war.

The soldiers were just young men: young men from all over Britain thrown into war. It was hardly heard of men refusing to serve in the war - re-cruitment posters (source A) put pressure on men to join, by playing on their conscience.

Boys were recruited, teenage boys as young as 14 or 15! Even though the age was 18. Once boys had joined, whatever age, they were "in the army now" and so had to go and fight: to see horrific visuals they should never have seen.

(source D/E).

The Soldiers had miserable lives in the trenches: the food was limited to Bully beef, biscuits, tinned foods etc. The soldiers always thought that they had half of what they really should have. The officers also enjoyed better quality food.

Life in the trenches consisted of working during the night, and trying to get some rest during the day: as well as having to fight and fire guns. The stand-to called at dawn and dusk routinely also saw the soldiers standing sometimes for hours waiting for enemy attacks that rarely ever came.

Tedium was a major problem in the trenches, so many soldiers took to writing poetry or letters to home. Letters where they were not really allowed to write of the full...