Student Instructions: Desertion

Desertion in the First World War



In this lesson, you will examine primary sources about desertion in the 118th Battalion during the First World War (1914 – 1918). Working in groups, you will be assigned a soldier and it is your task to present to the class who your soldier was. You must also present the circumstances surrounding your soldiers’ desertion. Afterwards, as a class, you will all discuss why soldiers deserted and how the military dealt with desertion.



1) At your computer, navigate to the Waterloo at War website and read the description of the 118th Battalion:

2) Click on the left image below the description of the 118th that is titled ‘The Lochead Files,’ and read the biography of Lieutenant Colonel W. M. O. Lochead.

3) Navigate to the deserter’s page ( and click on the name of the soldier assigned to your group.

4) Use the documents to write a brief account of your soldier’s service up to the time they were charged with desertion.

5) Use the account you wrote to create a time-line of events about your soldier to present to the class.