The poetic work "Base Details" scorns senior officers who neglected and understated the sacrifices made by the youth on the battlefield. The title is itself a pun since a soldier’s "detail" was that person's assignment in war. The majors were detailed to work at base, which in this case contains a double meaning: it refers to the base camp of the soldiers as well as base in a low moral sense. Through the use of visual imagery Siegfried Sassoon is able to covey the speaker’s disdain towards war.
The speaker’s thought depict the poem’s central message—the fact that officers’ callously lead their troops to death. For instance, he states that he would “speed glum heroes up the line to death” (3). By describing the soldiers are described as “glum heroes” (3), the poet showcases the sullen and melancholic state that these soldiers tend to find themselves in. This sentence also suggests that officers carelessly issue orders which prompt unnecessary deaths. In addition, the speaker speculates that if he were a major, he too would have a ““puffy, petulant face” (4) and would spend his time “guzzling and gulping in the best hotel” (5). The poem presents a scathing image of the senior officers who sent their young men to die in battle, while they indulged themselves in luxurious excesses. In fact, the writer’s diction helps the audience envision officers as men who are fat and out of shape due to their constant eating and drinking. The speaker’s contempt stems from the fact that the majors are spoiled while those who actually sacrifice their life are overlooked.
Furthermore, the speaker also belittles the majors by portraying their indifferent attitudes when they hear the news of the dead soldiers. They refer to the battle lightly by referring to it as “a scrap” (8), and express concern for certain young men only because they knew the father. To the speaker these remarks indicate that the officers do not seem overly concerned about loss of soldiers’ lives but instead care more about their own. The speaker resents that the majors can “toddle safely home and die—in bed” (10) while the youth, on the other hand, are “stone dead” (9). Those who give the main orders are safe behind the lines. The lower echelons who have to carry them out are the ones exposed to warfare and death. The word “toddle” draws reference to the steps of young children. In a way, the majors are acting as if they are children by disregarding the seriousness of war and instead treating it as if it were a game.
In short, Sassoon utilises visual imagery to criticize the older officers who profited at the expense of young soldiers. As readers, this poetic device enables us to grasp a better understanding of the bitterness that is expressed throughout the poem."Base Details" is an example of anti-war sentiment. Its portrayal of the cynical nature of military majors conveys the speaker’s contempt towards the callousness of those in charge of sending men to war.