View Full Version : The Somme

07-01-2006, 05:25 PM
A few news links to mark the 90th anniversary...

Ninety Years Ago, They Marched to a Certain Death (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2251222,00.html) - London Times
The Somme: Its Place in British History (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5083196.stm) - BBC News
Honor and Carnage (http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/06/30/opinion/edwheat.php) - International Herald Tribune
Brits Remember 1916 Battle of Somme (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/30/AR2006063001611.html)- Associated Press
The Somme: Bloody Lesson Well Learnt (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2251224,00.html) - London Times
Somme Losses Marked 90 Years On (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5136064.stm) - BBC News

01-08-2014, 05:38 PM
It's hard to believe that SWJED started this thread on the Somme's 90th - and that in 2-1/2 years we'll be looking at its 100th. This "battle", a series of operations spanning mid-1916 through early 1917, is best known for its first day of carnage; but there was much more to it. My interest has focused largely on individuals and smaller units; and on books which relate their stories in their own words. In that sense, the Somme's story cuts across all "levels" of warfare and exemplifies all levels of physical and moral courage.

I thought I'd start with an outline of the Somme campaign - as provided by Wiki. In this case, Wiki is not a bad starting point; one may find more in depth resources for any given phase by "Googling", etc.

Category: Battle of the Somme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Battle_of_the_Somme) (Wiki)

Battle of the Somme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Somme) (Wiki)

First Phase: 1–17 July 1916

First day on the Somme, 1 July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_day_on_the_Somme)

Battle of Albert, 1–13 July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Albert_(1916))

Battle of Bazentin Ridge, 14–17 July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bazentin_Ridge)

Battle of Fromelles, 19–20 July (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Fromelles)

Second phase: July – September 1916

Battle of Delville Wood, 14 July – 15 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Delville_Wood)

Battle of Pozières Ridge, 23 July – 7 August (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Pozi%C3%A8res)

Battle of Guillemont, 3–6 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Guillemont)

Battle of Ginchy, 9 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ginchy)

Third phase: September – November 1916

Battle of Flers–Courcelette, 15–22 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Flers-Courcelette)

Battle of Morval, 25–28 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Morval)

Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1 October – 11 November (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Le_Transloy)

Battle of Thiepval Ridge, 26–28 September (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thiepval_Ridge)

Battle of the Ancre Heights, 1 October – 11 November (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Ancre_Heights)

Battle of the Ancre, 13–18 November (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Ancre)

Subsequent operations in Early 1917

Ancre, January – March 1917 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_on_the_Ancre,_January_%E2%80%93_March_1 917)

Hindenburg Line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindenburg_Line#Alberich_Bewegung)

One can go in many directions from here; hopefully, others will be interested enough to chime in with their own viewpoints (and references).

In the next posts, I'll outline some filmography of the Somme.



01-08-2014, 06:32 PM
The first film is historical fiction; the second is a straight documentary; and the third is a somewhat specialized documentary (a sapper tribute), backgrounding one of the iconic scenes of the First Day.

Note: Youtube videos are often removed, but then reappear. So, if links in this and other posts fail, please search Youtube or Google - the video is probably somewhere.

The Trench (Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trench_(film)) and Imfdb (http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Trench,_The))

The film paints a picture of the soldiers’ emotional experience in the confines of the trenches; an experience running the gamut from boredom to fear, panic to restlessness. Billy MacFarlane (Paul Nicholls), 17, along with his older brother, Eddie (Tam Williams), has volunteered for service. The whole platoon, all of them in their late teens, depend on the war-hardened Sergeant Winter (Daniel Craig) and the scholarly Lieutenant Hart (Julian Rhind-Tutt) for their survival. When word arrives that the platoon will join the first wave of attacks, they do not yet know they will be present when the British Army loses the greatest number of soldiers in a single day in history.

The Trench is a 1999 World War I film set in the 48 hours prior to the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916. The film follows a group of British soldiers from the Royal Fusiliers and captures their experiences during the build-up to the battle. Many of them are led to believe that the imminent action will be a walk-over and that casualties will be minimal due to an ongoing immense bombardment of the German lines. Only the platoon's war-weary Sergeant (an early role for Daniel Craig) truly knows the extent of what the troops will be faced with.

Youtube: The Trench (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QUld96TzJs) (1999) (1.5 hrs) (240p; HD 720p has been removed from Youtube - the last 10 min in 480p is still here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KzqzIR8x4U))

Youtube: The Battle of the Somme (documentary) BBC (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzw6Vkjfq4o) (1976) (1hr 10min) (480p)

The Battle of the Somme: A 60th Anniversary Programme: With the letters, diaries and memories of men who took part: The story told by Leo McKern.

This video covers primarily the first day, July 1, 1916.

Youtube: The Somme Secret Tunnel Wars - BBC full documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc9s3ZMYIec) (2013) (1 hr) (360p)

Beneath the Somme battlefield lies one of the great secrets of the First World War, a recently-discovered network of deep tunnels thought to extend over several kilometres. This lost underground battlefield, centred on the small French village of La Boisselle in Picardy, was constructed largely by British troops between 1914 and 1916. Over 120 men died here in ongoing attempts to undermine the nearby German lines and these galleries still serve as a tomb for many of those men. This documentary follows historian Peter Barton and a team of archaeologists as they become the first people in nearly a hundred years to enter this hidden, and still dangerous, labyrinth.

Military mines were the original weapons of shock and awe - with nowhere to hide from a mine explosion, these huge explosive charges could destroy a heavily-fortified trench in an instant. In order to get under the German lines to plant their mines, British tunnellers had to play a terrifying game of subterranean cat and mouse - constantly listening out for enemy digging and trying to intercept the German tunnels without being detected. To lose this game probably meant death.

As well uncovering the grim reality of this strange underground war, Peter discovers the story of the men who served here, including the tunnelling companies' special military units made up of ordinary civillian sewer workers and miners. He reveals their top secret mission that launched the Battle of the Somme's first day and discovers why British high command failed to capitalise on a crucial tactical advantage they had been given by the tunnellers.



01-08-2014, 07:05 PM
The first film is the classic combat camera image of WWI; the second film is really two stories: (1) a field survey in how the original film was made - and not made; and (2) the journey of two Canadian officers as they follow the steps of the First Newfoundland Regiment on the First Day.

The Battle of the Somme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_the_Somme_(film)) (Wiki)

The Battle of the Somme is a 1916 British documentary and propaganda film, shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell. The film depicts the British Army in the preliminary and early days of the battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November 1916). The film had its premiere in London on 10 August 1916 and was released generally on 21 August. The film depicts trench warfare, showing marching infantry, artillery firing on German positions, British troops waiting to attack on 1 July, treatment of wounded British and German soldiers, British and German dead and captured German equipment and positions. A scene where British troops crouch in a ditch then "go over the top", was staged for the camera behind the lines.

The film was a great success, was watched by c. 20 million British people in the first six weeks of exhibition and the film was distributed in eighteen more countries. A second film covering a later phase of the battle, was released in 1917 as The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks. In 1920 the film was preserved in the film archive of the Imperial War Museum and was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. In 2005 the film was digitally restored and in 2008 was released on DVD. The Battle of the Somme is an early example of film propaganda, an historical record of the battle and a popular source of footage illustrating the First World War

Youtube: The Battle of the Somme (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krT1lX_Dvm0) (1916, 2005) (1.25 hrs) (480p) (silent - no commentary; re-mastered original)

Battle Of The Somme - The True Story (http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Battle_of_the_Somme_-_The_True_Story) (2006) (Wiki)

Ninety years ago, one of the bloodiest days in the history of Britain was captured on film. But this shocking footage has never been shown as it was actually filmed. It was combined with staged sequences to create ‘The Battle of the Somme’, a propaganda film designed to rally a grieving nation. In the months and years following the brutal battle, the film was seen by around twenty million people. A cameraman called Geoffrey Malins had been allowed to the front lines on The Somme by the British generals. Along with fellow official cinematographer John McDowell, Malins created a graphic portrayal of trench warfare that showed dying British and German soldiers.

Although the British army had been anticipating a great victory - and were happy to see it commemorated on film – the battle did not go as planned. Malins had been filming the build up to the battle; he thought that he would go on the enemy being decimated. But it all went wrong. By the end of that first day almost 20,000 Allied soldiers were dead - the heaviest battlefield casualties ever inflicted on the British army in a single day. Since then, the film's iconic images have defined the Great War. But, the real story hidden in its footage has remained a mystery.

On that same day, 1st July 1916, men from the First Newfoundland Regiment fighting for Britain went over the top and into history. They were virtually wiped out. Now, as their descendants march back in time to find out what they went through, the silent film shot on The Somme surrenders its secrets. A team of investigators using forensic science work to determine the truth. They identify what is probably the first footage of men falling in battle ever captured on film, putting names to the faces of soldiers frozen in time that lead to their descendants, and releasing words spoken by soldiers on that fateful day, words that have never been heard…until now.

Youtube: Battle Of The Somme - The True Story - Parts 1-8 (1.5 hr total; 480p) (1 of 8 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgPcko8XLKE), do rest manually) (auto playlist for 8 parts (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL20F3811C10A523C0))



01-08-2014, 07:16 PM
In my teens I was interested in WW1 and read about this battle, many years later I was able to twice visit the area.

The battlefield remains primarily agricultural land, with a few small villages and the terrain is not easy to follow. A good number of the houses are non-French owned, as a good number of those interested have purchased houses.

Delville Wood, where the South Africans fought and died, remains a rather shattered place even if the wood has re-grown.

We walked through the partly restored trenches around the Newfoundland Memorial (then not part of Canada), with German trenches nearby (out of grenade range) and the cratered "no mans land". A truly terrible place.

Conditions were so bad later on British troops deserted en masse to the Germans on the River Ancre sector; which when it rains is a really dismal, damp place.

A few years ago with my interest rekindled I joined the Western Front Association; treading their printed journal, taking in some lectures and maybe one day will go back. Link:http://westernfrontassociation.com/

Further north is that other battlefield etched in blood and mud in the British memory, Ypres. There the terrain is far easier to follow, with the Germans holding the high ground against which British "Tommies" threw themselves in 1917. We took in a nearby French cemetery and ossuary, then a German cemetery (for 44k) for the late 1914 battles - when eager student volunteers were mown down. A small German student party were there laying a wreath.


Incidentally two (?) US Army divisions (108k) served in the Ypres sector later in the last Allied offensive, which I was unaware of until finding a memorial:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_campaigns_in_World_War_I#Ypres-Lys_19_August_.E2.80.93_11_November_1918

Showing my age the best guide is a book: 'Before Endeavours Fade' by Rose Coombs (Pub. 1994); it covers many more battlefields e.g. Verdun: http://www.amazon.com/Before-Endeavours-Fade-Guide-Battlefields/dp/0900913851

01-08-2014, 08:14 PM
This film may be somewhat controversial, although it's far from a complete revision of the traditional received "wisdom" that the Brits were lions led by donkeys.

The Somme – From Defeat to Victory (2006) (Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Somme_%E2%80%93_From_Defeat_to_Victory)) (Wiki2 (http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=The_Somme_-_From_Defeat_to_Victory)):

The 1st of July 1916 was the bloodiest day in British military history. But there was much more to the Somme than senseless slaughter. The Somme: From Defeat to Victory challenges the traditional view of the battle as a disaster and reveals how it was on the Somme that the British Army learnt to fight a modern war.

Based on extensive research in British and German archives, the film mixes realistic, historically sourced drama scenes, archive, documentary footage and state of the art computer graphics to bring the extraordinary events of the Somme to life. It has been made with the advice of some of the world's top military historians. The result is a film that offers a radical new perspective on the Somme, putting the terrible events of July 1st into their proper historical context.

The film is also influenced by the personal perspective of its writer, director and producer Detlef Siebert, who says:

"As a German, I approached the battle of the Somme without the preconceptions that most British people seem to have. Even 90 years on, the Somme is still seen as a prime example of the recklessness and idiocy of British generals who sent wave after wave of brave young men to certain death.

"And although the battle of the Somme lasted almost 5 months, it is normally only the first day that is remembered. This popular view of the Somme struck me as rather one-dimensional and I wondered how the British Army would have won the war if it was really led by 'donkey' generals. In fact, recent historical research has demonstrated that many British commanders proved able and willing to learn from the disaster of the 1st of July.

"I wanted to make a film that not only shows the human tragedy of trench warfare but also highlights the learning curve of the British Army on the Somme."

The Somme - From Defeat To Victory - Parts 1-7 (1 hr total; 480p) (1 of 7 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1q-Qp2Klws) parts) (auto playlist (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL13DDE8B2E668856E) for 7 parts)

The "lessons learned" segments feature the Fall 1916 Battle of Thiepval, and showcase then Lt. Col. Frank Maxwell (brief bio in next post):

Thiepval Map 01


Thiepval Map 02




01-09-2014, 04:11 AM
The measure of Brigadier General Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC, CSI, DSO & Bar (7 September 1871 – KIA, sniper, at Ypres, 21 September 1917) (Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Aylmer_Maxwell)), goes well beyond that brief bio, his memorial in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh


and even his Decorations and Citations (http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/bbmaxwef.htm) (partial). Those do give us something of a framework to work with.

One begins to appreciate the person from his letters: first to his family when he was single; and later to his wife Charlotte (an Aussie). Charlotte Maxwell, Frank Maxwell Brig. General, V.C., C.S.I., D.S.O. A Memoir and Some Letters (http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002040678246;view=1up;seq=9) (London: John Murray, 1921)

Once an Eagle (http://www.amazon.com/Once-Eagle-Novel-Anton-Myrer/dp/0060196963) presents us with a somewhat overdrawn fictional choice between Sam Damon and Courtney Massengale. Bob Scales (in looking back on Once an Eagle), among others, has commented that the military needs good combat leaders and good staff officers. Frank Maxwell was both; making the fictional choice between Damon and Massengale a false one.

He established his "Damon" credentials with the Indian Army on the Frontier and during the early stages of the Boer War. He established his "Massengale" credentials as "The Brat", ADC to Kitchener in South Africa and India; and later Military Secretary to the Viceroy of India. Toss in polo, pig sticking and tiger hunting for balance. He returned to the "Damon" role as a Bn and Bde commander in 1916-1917 - see snips in attached PDF file and judge for yourself.

IMO: Maxwell is a person to be emulated, whether or not one is a soldier.



01-09-2014, 04:50 AM
Ten American divisions trained (or were scheduled to train) under British supervision before Pershing pulled the plug on most of them. The American II Corps (27th and 30th Inf. Divs.; both National Guard units) remained under British Imperial commands at Ypres and Bellicourt (breaking the Hindenburg Line). The Rawlinson-Monash plan at Bellicourt worked out badly for the 27th (which was decimated), but well for the 30th.

The latter lucked out because of a dense fog, some decent improvised orders (esp. for the 117th Inf. Reg., which switched from the 30th's far north reserve to its far south attacking force), and good arty and mopping up tactics; but more because of the spectacular success of the 46th British to the 30th's south. The 46th's crossing of the canal allowed the 117th Inf. Reg. of the 30th to link up with the 46th on both sides of the canal. Thus, the 117th gained the handle "Breakthrough", which it carried into WWII (where the ETO historians rated the 30th as the best US infantry division).


Yockelson, Borrowed Soldiers: Americans under British Command, 1918 (http://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Soldiers-Americans-Campaigns-Commanders/dp/0806139196) (2008):

The combined British Expeditionary Force and American II Corps successfully pierced the Hindenburg Line during the Hundred Days Campaign of World War I, an offensive that hastened the war’s end. Yet despite the importance of this effort, the training and operation of II Corps has received scant attention from historians.

Mitchell A. Yockelson delivers a comprehensive study of the first time American and British soldiers fought together as a coalition force—more than twenty years before D-Day. He follows the two divisions that comprised II Corps, the 27th and 30th, from the training camps of South Carolina to the bloody battlefields of Europe. Despite cultural differences, General Pershing’s misgivings, and the contrast between American eagerness and British exhaustion, the untested Yanks benefited from the experience of battle-toughened Tommies. Their combined forces contributed much to the Allied victory.

Yockelson plumbs new archival sources, including letters and diaries of American, Australian, and British soldiers to examine how two forces of differing organization and attitude merged command relationships and operations. Emphasizing tactical cooperation and training, he details II Corps’ performance in Flanders during the Ypres-Lys offensive, the assault on the Hindenburg Line, and the decisive battle of the Selle.

Featuring thirty-nine evocative photographs and nine maps, this account shows how the British and American military relationship evolved both strategically and politically. A case study of coalition warfare, Borrowed Soldiers adds significantly to our understanding of the Great War.

Blair, The Battle of the Bellicourt Tunnel: Tommies, Diggers and Doughboys on the Hindenburg Line, 1918 (http://www.amazon.com/BATTLE-BELLICOURT-TUNNEL-THE-Hindenburg/dp/1848325878) (2011):

In November 1918 the BEF under Field Marshal Haig fought a series of victorious battles on the Western Front that contributed mightily to the German army's defeat. They did so as part of a coalition and the role of Australian 'diggers' and US 'doughboys' is often forgotten. The Bellicourt Tunnel attack, fought in the fading autumn light, was very much an inter-Allied affair and marked a unique moment in the Allied armies' endeavors. It was the first time that such a large cohort of Americans had fought in a British army. Additionally, untried American II Corps and experienced Australian Corps were to spearhead the attack under the command of Lieutenant General Sir John Monash with British divisions adopting supporting roles on the flanks.

Blair forensically details the fighting and the largely forgotten desperate German defense. Although celebrated as a marvelous feat of breaking the Hindenburg Line, the American attack failed generally to achieve its set objectives and it took the Australians three days of bitter fighting to reach theirs. Blair rejects the conventional explanation of the US 'mop up' failure and points the finger of blame at Rawlinson, Haig and Monash for expecting too much of the raw US troops, singling out the Australian Corps commander for particular criticism.

Overall, Blair judges the fighting a draw. At the end, like two boxers, the Australian-American force was gasping for breath and the Germans, badly battered, backpedalling to remain on balance. Overall the day was calamitous for the German army, even if the clean break-through that Haig had hoped for did not occur. Forced out of the Hindenburg Line, the prognosis for the German army on the Western Front - and hence Imperial Germany itself - was bleak indeed.



01-20-2014, 11:30 PM
Indeed there was no doubt that the outnumbered and outgunned would get ever more outnumbered and outgunned so the later German decision to give up was quite understandable.

Interestingly our mountains made it into the top story (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10562017/Melting-glaciers-in-northern-Italy-reveal-corpses-of-WW1-soldiers.html) of the Telegraph. Along the old frontline are many beautiful spots with a harrowing story. You can often combine a good day of sport with tragic history.

The ends with Ungaretti, which developed close fascist relationships. Still I enjoy his poems, like:


Si sta
come d'autunno
sugli alberi
le foglie.

10 WWI Myths (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25776836), at least according to the BBC. Sadly number 9 is argued in part with a fallacy.

The treaty was notably less harsh than treaties that ended the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War and World War Two. The German victors in the former annexed large chunks of two rich French provinces, part of France for between 2-300 years, and home to most of French iron ore production, as well as presenting France with a massive bill for immediate payment.

Versailles was not harsh but was portrayed as such by Hitler who sought to create a tidal wave of anti-Versailles sentiment on which he could then ride into power.

The payed payment after WWI was bigger, but the key problem is that x is not bigger than x + y, with x and y being positive numbers. The two rich, german-speaking former French provinces were annexed by France plus Germany lost a considerable amount of territory in the East. So it is almost impossible to argue that the French had harsher terms.

And obviously Mr. Hitler was far from being alone in his sentiment, pretty much every moderate party considered it as such, to a good exent because of the y factor plus the clause that only the Central Powers were to blame. The great man Keynes covered the part about the economy, and more, neatly in The Economic Consequences of the Peace.

In any case number 9 should not have slipped through in that form, leading his own arguable argument partly at absurdum.

06-27-2016, 12:59 PM
The 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme's start looms closer, 1st July 2016 and there is a flurry of new books, so this article is part of that.

British commanders planning for the disastrous Somme offensive misinterpreted detailed intelligence reports that may have prevented the bloodiest day in the Army’s history, a new book on the First World War battle claims. Prisoners taken in the run up to the battle gave their British captors detailed reports of where a massive week-long bombardment had destroyed the German defences and where the shells had been ineffective.
German captives had told the British that sections of their southern defences were badly damaged by the onslaught, but elsewhere the bunkers were deeper and likely to be more resilient.Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/27/army-chiefs-bungled-intelligence-from-germans-prisoners-that-cou/

Very mixed reviews so far:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Somme-Into-Breach-Hugh-Sebag-Montefiore/dp/0670918385/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467032284&sr=1-1&keywords=Somme+%3A+Into+the+Breach

07-02-2016, 09:36 PM
Professor Robin Prior, a noted Australian WW1 historian, has a short column on Defence-in-Depth; the first of six comments on this battle.

He starts with:
The Battle of the Somme is to be remembered or commemorated but hardly celebrated on its hundredth anniversary this year. The battle has a number of distinctive features – few of them pleasant. It was the largest battle, in number of troops committed, ever fought, or likely to be fought by the British army; it also was the most costly in terms of casualties; and in terms of dead and wounded it contains the very worst day in British military history with 57,000 casualties – 19,000 of them dead – on the first day of battle 1 July 1916.In a pithy line he ends with:
One hundred years later we must look at the Somme not as a bloody victory or indeed any kind of victory. It was a dire defeat and perhaps the nadir of British command on the Western Front.Link:https://defenceindepth.co/2016/07/01/the-somme-the-british-battle/

08-13-2016, 08:46 PM
A WW1 & WW2 battlefield guide's commentary on visiting The Somme is a short read. He ends with poignant words:
I’ve walked the Somme a thousand times, and I hope to continue to walk and visit it for many years to come, whether for television, with a Leger group or just on my own. It is a place that haunts you, and along its dusty lanes, and under the trees of its many woods, the voices of a generation of men still resonate.

The Somme will stand for so much to so many: sacrifice, tragedy or sheer bloody murder. But for me, it will always be a place where I can focus on the essence of the Great War: ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances, doing their bit in something they knew was bigger than them, and which defined the deaths of those who fell and the lives of the majority who came home. The Somme changed them all, and a hundred years later it can change us.Link:http://www.leger.co.uk/blog/2016/08/13/paul-reed-what-somme-means-to-me/

I have been to several WW1 battlefields, visiting cemeteries for all those who fell. The Somme is a strange place; blood-soaked land. On a wet day I visited Newfoundland Park, walking around the now much wider trenches.

Thinking tonight I do wonder how long will our successors visit such places. Interest in WW1 has grown for at least twenty years here; for the French it is deeply embedded - along with others.

Enough melancholy.