Document 1

Lefort Jean-Louis (1875-1954), In Flanders Fields, Crossing the Loo Canal (Belgium) on a floating bridge and metal grids, 10 July 1917, watercolour and crayon, coll. BDIC/Archipel

Oversteek van het kanaal van Lo (België)

Document 2

Caron Achille (1888-1947), British camp, vignette, 1914-18, silver bromide in gelatin on a glass plate negative, © Musée Quentovic – Ville d’Etaples-sur-Mer

soldaten rond een tent

Document 3

Excerpt from the Journal of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Basseux, 6 September 1915, published by Fayard in 1975

"– Hopes of a distant destination. And suddenly a terrible rumour: we are returning to Frévent... the Nord again. Only the Nord. And then, probably, Arras.

– Grey journey, a bad night;

– At Frévent it’s drizzling when we disembark, somewhat similar conditions like when we came from Cuvilly (April).

– A long walk to reach Brevillers, then Doullens.

– Finally at one, arrival at the exquisite forest house in Lucheux, where I surprise myself, as I sit thinking under the spruces, near the spring, where I feel as if I am being welcomed in the house of some friends, and where I will sit down tonight and have a family meal…

The next day, on the road. All night, a painful walk on the endless road to Lille. – Arrival, at dawn, in Basseux. Bad billet, in a small, run-down farm. Gradually, however, I become attached to this small village, where the tidy church has remained intact. […] With Décout, I head to Beaumeche1 to see the sad panorama of Arras: Mont-St-Eloi and its ruined tower, Lorette…

On two occasions I accompanied the 1st Company during their night patrols.

– A painful impression when you leave the narrow trench, on the frontline, when you see the sections aligning themselves in the open, in the fields, and starting to plough into the limestone with their pickaxes.

– In the morning, a burst of fire;

– We take shelter in the rudimentary trench... the next day, while we are gathering to pick up the tools, in the beer hall, shellfire starts (105?) aimed at the hall. A threatening breath covers us... a primal panic… the blazing glow of shells against the night-time sky"

1 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin probably made a typographical and phonetic error here. He is probably referring to the village of Beaumetz-les-Loges.

  • I observe
    • 1° Document 1: Describe the landscape. How is it transformed by the war?
    • 2° Document 1: Describe the soldiers’ equipment.
    • 3° Document 2: Describe the photo. What information does it provide on the daily life of British soldiers behind the lines?
    • 4° Document 3: Underline the cities and locations to which the author refers.
    • 5° Document 3: Underline all time indications (date, hour…).
    • 6° Document 3: What is a billet? How is it organized?
    • 7° Document 3: What is a trench? What is it used for?
  • I identifiy
    • 1° Document 1: Specify the soldiers’ nationality.
    • 2° Document 1: Indicate the elements that show the proximity and intensity of combat.
    • 3° Document 2: Does the photo allow us to identify the location of the camp? The village, the region or even the continent?
    • 4° Document 2: Is it possible to date this photo?
    • 5° Document 3: Locate the cities on the map and trace the route. Estimate the distances in kilometres. Download the map
    • 6° Document 3: Explain what the soldiers were doing during this three-day period.
  • I put in perspective
    • 1° Document 1: Write a short text demonstrating that the troops' movements are complicated.
    • 2° Document 1: How did the artist portray the harsh conditions in which soldiers had to live on the frontlines?
    • 3° Document 2: Explain which elements of the photo make this a historical document? Which elements contribute to its artistic value?
    • 4° Document 3: What is Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s experience of military life? Which literary processes does he use to demonstrate this?