Lesson Tutor: A Letter from the WW1 Trenches: a history and language arts assignment

A Letter From a World War I Trench
By Melanie Marshall

  • Read about soldiers in the trenches in World War I.
  • Research the meanings of terms such as no-man’s land, airplanes, and gas masks.
  • Determine in your own mind who fought whom.
  • Where did battles take place? Where were the German troops? Where were the U.S. troops?

Now write a letter home from the perspective of the soldier in the trenches.

Alternate assignment: Keep a journal of five days in the trenches during an ongoing attack.

An example of this assignment follows, courtesy of William Marshall, 6th grade student.

Dear Mom and Dad,

The day before yesterday, we advanced to a nearby town, which we garrisoned in. We woke up with our eyes burning and the taste of mustard in our mouths.  A call came in that we had just been gassed and to put on our gas masks. They told us that the enemy was advancing and that we would have to protect the town. So we set up everything we had. Unfortunately, we only had about fifteen 10mm rifles with 500 rounds each, one mortar with 100 rounds, forty grenades, and a scope! But only twenty people.

When the enemy finally came, they were huge! We used all the grenades and mortars we had, but they just kept coming! We finally had to retreat, seeing that we were highly outnumbered, outgunned, and we had lost fifteen men. As fast as we could, we ran to our outpost to warn the others. But when we got there, it was deserted! So we ran back to headquarters. But while we were going there, a German plane flew over us and dropped a barrel in front of us. When it hit the ground, all this gas came from it. Unfortunately, some didn’t have a gas mask, for it had been destroyed. Those people died.

Our number was now two and it was ever growing smaller as the Germans were taking us out one by one. We finally reached headquarters at dawn, seeing that we didn’t sleep. They were all surprised that any of us had survived. They took us to the hospital where we have to stay for a while.


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