History GCSE: Ernest Steele

Ernest Steele volunteered to fight for his country in late 1914, even though he wasn't yet nineteen - the minimum age a soldier could be sent abroad to fight in World War One.

In August 1915, he was sent to the Belgian town of Ypres, probably the most dangerous place for a British soldier to be stationed on the whole of the Western Front. In response to popular pressure, the army gave underage soldiers the opportunity to return home but Ernest Steele refused to take up this opportunity.

Whilst in the village of Hooge, he was injured and this film describes the quite primitive way in which his injuries were treated.

Ernest was so shaken by his early experience of warfare that he tried to dissuade his younger brother, then aged fifteen, from signing up.

As well as seeing action at Ypres, Ernest fought as part of the Somme offensive, before eventually being killed by a German sniper in the closing months of the war.

Contains scenes that some viewers may find upsetting. Teacher review recommended before using in class.

This film is part of the series Teenage Tommies.

Teacher Notes

The government found it harder to recruit army volunteers in 1915 than they had in the early months of the war. Using Ernest Steele’s letter to his brother as a stimulus, pupils could provide reasons why the number of volunteers reduced as the war progressed.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching history. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

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