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Michelle Young

Somme Film

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Michelle Young

This was in The Times today

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/archive/first-world-war/article4052657.ece

The full article states that 83 year old Raymond Darkes says he has no doubt whatsoever that the soldier carrying the wounded man is his father Pte Frederick Darkes, 11 Royal Warwicks. 11th Warwicks were 37th Div and correct me if I am wrong not involved July 1st......

Michelle

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Mark Hone

Hasn't this soldier been 'identified' before?

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Guest

Hi Michelle

From the LLT

112th Brigade
This brigade was attached to 34th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916
11th Bn, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment

I think Malin & McDowell's film covers more than just the first day doesn't it?

Cheers Mike

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Michelle Young

Hasn't this soldier been 'identified' before?

I'm sure you are right Mark, just like the chap who was in the credits of the "Great War" TV series......Just thought I'd bring it to the Forums attention

Michelle

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Guest

I just meant that perhaps that clip might not have been filmed on the first day?

Mike

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Michelle Young

Mike I haven't seen the film for some years but I only recall it covering 1/2 July but my grey cells may be failing me

Michelle

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roughdiamond

I'm sure in the programme about the Somme film which included Andy Robertshaw and Dan Snow which looked amongst other things at the mystery man carrying the casualty, they came to the conclusion that it'd be impossible to identify who it was due to a lack of live witness'.

The same programme also used a forensic lip reader to work out what the men were saying, looked for and found some of the locations, analysed a sequence that claimed to show men going through barbed wire under fire and surmised it did and Andy Robershaw recreated the Stretcher Bearers up to their thighs in mud, anyone remember the name of it?

Couldn't read the story as the site requires a subscription.

Sam

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Scalyback

The Andy Robetshaw film also used photographic software to measure the features of the face. Given the measuments taken from known photos and a lot of calculations plus other software power, a lot of "contenders" where placed out of the being the man in question. Ie nose to long or wide, eyes to close or far apart. That worked far better in my mind than other attempts.

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Gibbo

'The Times' article says that the Darkes family want facial recognition software to be used to see if the man is Frederick Darkes.

Robertshaw's book about the Malins film was called 'Ghosts on the Somme', so that is presumably also the TV programme's title. It featured a family who thought that their ancestor was the man carrying the casualty. The facial recognition software experts agreed, but the candidate's army record showed that he was in the UK throughout 1916.

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Guest

I found this in the excellent British Newspaper Archives

From the Burnley Express - Saturday 30 September 1916

Large numbers of Burnley people have seen the official film of the Somme battle, and been deeply stirred by a portion of the picture which depicted a soldier bringing in the wounded under fire. This particular photo has been reproduced in the majority of the principal newspapers of the country, but the central figure was in every case described as an " unknown hero " and the letterpress under the photo stated " This British soldier carried no fewer than twenty wounded to safety in this manner " The official film also announced that " the man the soldier was carrying at the time the picture was taken died shortly after being brought in. " One of the illustrated papers was eventually seen by the " unknown hero " and he at once communicated with his mother, sending the copy of the paper in which he figured. The soldier it now transpired, is a native of Burnley, and one of the three soldier sons of Mrs Spencer, who lived at 48, Grimshaw Street, but who a short time ago went to reside at Haigh Houses, Foulridge. The soldier whose heroic deed has been seen pictorially by hundreds of thousands of his countrymen and woman is Driver Tom Spencer, of the Royal Garrison Artillery, and now with a Trench Mortar Battery. Tom, who is 28 years of age, had served 10 years in the Navy , and had not been home when war broke out. He thereupon entered the Army, and has been in France for a long time. Driver Tom has sent a clipping from a paper, and in it he has marked the following:- Saving The Wounded-The fighting was busiest at La Boiselle and in the woods of Mametz and Bernafray. I have not yet had time to visit the scene of the battles farther to the north, except at one point, Beaumont Hamel. Our losses were heavy, partly owing to the sheer bravery of the men and their eagerness to push on. More splendid self sacrifice I have never witnessed both in attack and in saving the wounded afterwards. The enemy in many places set up snipers to pick off any wounded who moved or tried to slip back. In spite of this, one man, just a single instance from many, went into this " No Man's Land " in full daylight, again, and again, till he had saved twenty. The cry " stretcher-bearers! stretcher-bearers! " which is the first to arise from a battlefield, was more than he could endure even though the stretcher-bearers proper had been told not to take the risk, not to sacrifice several lives for one. -Commended Twice In One Day- Mrs Spencer had received the following letter from her son a short time before " Just a few lines to let you know that I am quite well after this big battle, which by now you will have heard of. I might tell you that I have taken a great part in it, and I am pleased to say that I was recommended twice in the one day, so with a bit of luck there will be more honours in the family. Look out for the papers and most probably you will see my photo in papers carrying a wounded man across the battlefield, and also at the picture houses. Enough about myself for the time being. I have seen a lot Burnley and Earby boys just lately that you know very well......... etc etc.

The article goes on to mention his brothers.

There is a photograph of Tom Spencer, and to my eye, it does look like the man carrying the wounded soldier. Click

Mike

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Ghazala

I'm sure in the programme about the Somme film which included Andy Robertshaw and Dan Snow which looked amongst other things at the mystery man carrying the casualty, they came to the conclusion that it'd be impossible to identify who it was due to a lack of live witness'.

Sam

Ah, another 'Snow' warning...

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Guest

Again from The British Newspaper Archive

Burnley Express - Wednesday 08 October 1941

25 Years Ago

" It was revealed that, the hero of the official War Office film " The Battle of the Somme " was a Burnley man, driver Tom Spencer, who was filmed whilst rescuing wounded comrades from No Man's Land whilst under heavy fire. Driver Spencer carried 20 men to safety in one day, and was twice commended for bravery. "

Mike

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Guest

Burnley Express - Wednesday 22 November 1916 (British Newspaper Archives)

Somme Film Hero

Burnley Man and Rival Claimant

At the beginning of October we published a photo, and particulars of Driver Tom Spencer, A Burnley member of the RGA whose mother now resides at Foulridge and identified him as the hero of the official Somme Battle film bringing in wounded under heavy fire. In a subsequent issue a picture journal another soldier claimed the honour, and Driver Spencer's attention being called to this he wrote home to his mother as follows " About that fellow who claims to be the original in the photograph which you have seen in the paper. I know him, and he was with me when I brought that man in. If you have a copy of that photograph you will see him holding on to the ankles of the wounded man. "

Mike

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Mark Hone

I saw it as part of a long documentary called 'The Somme:The True Story' which had various other strands including the story of two Newfoundland brothers tracing their ancestor.

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David Ridgus

I saw it as part of a long documentary called 'The Somme:The True Story' which had various other strands including the story of two Newfoundland brothers tracing their ancestor.

That's the one Mark. It was broadcast as part of the 90th anniversary programming. The two strands were Robertshaw trying to work out firstly which bits of the Malins film were from the frontline and then whether they could identify the people in iconic images from the film: the soldier carrying the wounded man and the officer ushering troops into the front line. They also had a lip reader identify what some of the soldiers were saying: the chap looking straight at the camera in the sunken lane, a Tommy levering open a box of ammunition and the other famous image of a man with a leg wound being helped along a trench. The second strand was the two Newfoundland brothers retracing the steps of their two ancestors who both went over the top at Beaumont Hamel on 1st July: one was killed and one lost a leg. The film finished at the caribou memorial.

My memory is that a range of candidates were considered and that none were identified, either failing the facial recognition test or just not being there on 1st July.

Fortunately I taped the programme and subsequently transferred it to DVD, unfortunately it's at school. However I've been meaning to bring it home and watch it since this came up on another thread a while ago so will pick it up on Monday and hope to post a list of the soldiers considered.

David

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Michelle Young

The same one as in The Times Mike, I'm not convinced myself!

Michelle

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David Ridgus

Mike

Just watched "The Somme: the True Story". The contender at that time was a man called William Holland. He bore a close likeness and the forensic face recognition expert said he was a good match. However his army records showed that he did not go to France until February 1917. The man from the IWM said that at that time (2006) they currently had 50 claimants for the soldier. They had for many years accepted the claims of a RSM Woods, but when he also was shown to have not been at the Front on 1st July the IWM said they would endorse no other candidate without complete proof.

They did identify a man in another frame. He is shown ushering troops into the front line trench and turns to face the camera. He was identified as Captain Edmund Dawson.

David

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Guest

Thanks David. Probably never know for sure. I wonder if there's a copy of the 50 names anywhere?

Mike

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9.5mm

Burnley Express - Wednesday 22 November 1916 (British Newspaper Archives)

Somme Film Hero

Burnley Man and Rival Claimant

At the beginning of October we published a photo, and particulars of Driver Tom Spencer, A Burnley member of the RGA whose mother now resides at Foulridge and identified him as the hero of the official Somme Battle film bringing in wounded under heavy fire. In a subsequent issue a picture journal another soldier claimed the honour, and Driver Spencer's attention being called to this he wrote home to his mother as follows " About that fellow who claims to be the original in the photograph which you have seen in the paper. I know him, and he was with me when I brought that man in. If you have a copy of that photograph you will see him holding on to the ankles of the wounded man. "

Mike

Mike, did you find the article that dealt with the other claimant who Spencer stated was holding the injured man's ankles in the British Newspaper Archives?

FYI, he is referring to image Q 753 (photographer - Ernest Brooks) in the IWM's photograph collection (not the piggy-back trench sequence in the Battle of the Somme film):

Q_000753.jpg

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Guest

9.5mm, thank you for that. So we are talking about 2 different men. I think the caption " the man the soldier was carrying at the time the picture was taken died shortly after being brought in." is confusing me (and maybe a few others)

I could not find the article about the other man 'holding the feet' I'm afraid. I will study all this a bit more when have more time.

Thanks again

Mike

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Guest

Which photograph, or film clip, was originally captioned as the man having died after being taken in. Was it this man Click, or 9.5mm's Q 753 image?

Mike

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David Ridgus

Which photograph, or film clip, was originally captioned as the man having died after being taken in. Was it this man Click, or 9.5mm's Q 753 image?

Mike

The caption to your picture (the still from the Somme film) Mike was the one that said the man died 30 minutes later and was the one investigated by the IWM and others over the years. I'm sure of that because I watched it two days ago. The other image I have only seen as a still (it was the cover for an edition of Middlebrook's 'First Day on the Somme' for years)

David

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