Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Writings by the war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, published between 1918 and 1938
(Courtesy of Faber and Faber. 2a is from 'The War Poems', 1983. 2b is from 'Complete Memoirs of George Sherston', 1937)
  • Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most famous war poets of the Great War, wrote both of these sources.
  • Sassoon volunteered to join the army as soon as the war began in August 1914. He was an eager and enthusiastic soldier and was promoted. He served in most of the major battles on the Western Front, including the Somme.
  • He suffered trench fever late in 1916 and spent time in hospital in 1916-17. During this period, he became a bitter critic of the way the war was being fought. However, it should be said that he did not believe that the war itself was unjust.
  • During his illness and recovery, he developed his writing and poetry. He had a collection of poems published in 1918, which included 'The General'. This poem did criticise the commanders, but relatively few of his poems did. Most praised the ordinary soldiers. Many others attacked the civilians, who he felt were making profits out of the war.
  • The second source was published in the 1930s. It is essentially the story of Sassoon's experiences and how the war affected him. It describes a period during his recovery when he is back with his army unit, but not yet back in France in the trenches.
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