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Social sciences


Grade 8

Changing ideas and technology:

The first world war

Module 12

Submarines and trench warfare of the first world war

To discuss submarines as a weapon of the first world war

[lo 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7]


Initially America (the USA) distanced themselves from the war. The well-known isolationist policy of the Americans prohibited their involvement in European matters. They would only go so far as to provide the fighting Allies with provisions and war materials.

Britain set up a sea blockade to prevent war supplies from reaching her enemies. British supply ships ferried vital war supplies across the Atlantic ocean between Europe and the USA. Germany used its weapons technology to turn the submarine into a weapon of destruction. The submarines sunk neutral as well as enemy ships. The gross mass of supply ships and their cargo sunk in the month of April 1917 alone, totaled a million tons. This meant that Britain’s food supply was practically gone. Britian was dependent upon the supplies from its colonies and these were on the bottom of the sea.

The Germans received a warning concerning their “unlimited submarine warfare”, but viewed it as effective. Because of the strong feelings of the citizens, President Woodrow Wilson of America was forced to declare war and join the Allies. It was this involvement of America, during a period when the Allies were being defeated, that swung the course of the war in the favour of the Allies.


[lo 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7]

  1. Explain in a full sentence what it means when something can be described

as unlimited? /2/

  1. Explain in a full sentence what is meant by effective . /2/

3. Do you think that the words in bold “unlimited submarine warfare” were written by a German? Motivate your answer./3/

4. Why did the two groups interpret submarine warfare differently? /3/


Statement: Germany used its weapon technology to turn the submarine into a very successful weapon of destruction.

5.1 Is this statement a fact or an opinion? /1/

5.2 When I take from the statement the two words ______________ /1/

and ____________ then only the fact / opinion _______________/1/

remains. /1/

5.3 Rewrite the entire statement with your own words added.

Germany used its weapons technology to turn the submarine into a very successful weapon of destruction. /1/

/ 15 /

Assignment: the research project

  • You have now received information on different weapons and their use. Choose your own topic from the theme: TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT

Learners interested in weapons can choose to do research on submarines.

Reread the instructions for a good project discussed in Module 1. In Reading 3 the d readnought is mentioned. Learners interested in ships can do their research on the technological development of weapons on ships and types of war ships.

If you are more interested in computer technology, you should research the origins of computers. You must be able to show the development of computers.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, History grade 8. OpenStax CNX. Sep 12, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11044/1.1
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