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Remembered Today:

The Battle of the Somme


Tony Lund
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This afternoon I was reading an advertisement for a showing of this film in Holmfirth in 1916, according to the advertisement the King has decreed that everyone should see this film.

Are there any plans to make it accessible today? On DVD perhaps? Or will it only ever be available to a few specialists?

I would like to have a look at it and I suspect I am not alone.

Tony.

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Are there any plans to make it accessible today?  On DVD perhaps? 

I believe it is/was available;I know friends of mine had it on VHS some years back,I think it was advertised in Medal News or similar magazine,ask in W.H.Smiths,to see if it available in DVD?

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I saw this in VHS format for sale when I was over at Edinburgh Castle last year. If it's there it must be elsehwere too?

Des

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I will check at the major video / DVD shops and post the result. If it was avalable a while ago there should be a chance, it is certainly worth enquiring about.

Tony.

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As Harry says W.H. Smiths is the place to ask. I have a Video copy, been unable to get a DVD so far, but the cover of the video states exclusive to W.H. Smith.

Andy

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I got my copy from the Imperial War Museum. They still have it in VHS format, I believe.

Tom

PS - this is the 1916 film "The Battle of the Somme" I'm talking about. I think there are other videos with the same title, but they're not the 1916 film.

Tom

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"The Battles of the Somme and the Ancre" (double VHS) by DD Video has both the Somme film and it's "sequal", the one made about the Ancre battle. Viewing notes are also available. I believe the WH.Smith video is supplied by DD, but it is also obtainable from themselves direct. many DD titles are also available on DVD, so I can't see why this one wouldn't be.

Dave.

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It is still available on VHS, see their website - however, cannot find it on DVD.

Alan

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Thanks, I shall see if I can order it locally, and if not I can always use that website.

Yesterday I saw a letter which appeared in the Holmfirth Express in 1916 complaining about the behaviour of a group of young people in the cinema during a showing of the “Battle of the Somme,” apparently when a group of bedraggled wounded soldiers appeared on the screen some of them burst out laughing. The writer said that he had been in cinemas all over the country and he had never seen behaviour like that.

He should have been there a few weeks earlier when a shot was fired in the cinema, and the next day a fifteen year old boy, dressed in khaki, appeared before the Holmfirth Police Court charged with carrying a pistol, he pleaded guilty.

Inspector Foster said that as a result of complaints of a pistol being discharged during a film show at the local cinema, he interviewed the boy who admitted firing a shot at the stage at a point in the film when the main character fired a shot on the screen, fortunately on one was injured and no serious damage was done. He said had bought the pistol and cartridges from a local shopkeeper for four shillings and sixpence. The boy's farther said if he had known about the pistol he would have certainly taken it away, he thought the boy had fired the shot out of excitement.

The Chairman asked the boy's father; “If we simply fine your son, will you see that the fine is stopped out of his pocket money?” When his father agreed the boy was fined £1 and the pistol and ten remaining rounds of ammunition were confiscated.

On the same day, Harry Brammell, a greengrocer from Holmfirth was charged with selling a pistol to an person under the age of eighteen years. He pleaded guilty. In court he said that he thought the boy was older than fifteen and anyway he did not know that he was doing anything wrong. The Chairman of the Magistrates said that he had started all the mischief by selling a pistol and cartridges to a boy in the first place, and fining the defendant £1, expressed the hope that this would be a caution to him.

Tony.

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There's a bit on the Imperial War Museum website which mentions a DVD re-issue with a new instrumental score coming soon.

In time for Christmas maybe?

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I have a VHS copy of the "Somme" video in an orange and grey cover. Not sure who the supplier was, but it came, as has been reported, with an extremely useful booklet, which gave the backround to each of the scenes: who took it, where and the likely units involved. I also have the "Somme" and "Ancre" double VHS which was lacking the booklet. Try and get one with the text - I thoroughly recommend it.

Steve

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I've been curious about this film for a long time. I've heard that parts like "going over the top" were staged, while others were quite real. Would anybody care to comment about how realistically it portrays what was actually going on (as opposed to propaganda via faking and/or selective inclusions and exclusions) ? e.g. a film can show live action and still be lying, by only including stuff that reflects well on one's own side.

thanks

Rod

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Rod

There may have been threads on this before but basically the faked parts are the two sequences which show lightly equipped soldiers going over the top and then picking their way through barbed wire. These were filmed at a trench mortar school by one fo the two cameramen, Geoffrey Malins. The sequence of the Lancashire Fusiliers fixing bayonets and filing along a trench were filmed the day before the attack, as described in the diary of George Ashurst. The sequence of the same unit in the sunken road shortly before they make their disastrous attack is for many one of the most moving and remarkable parts of the film.

Regarding the nature of the film as a propaganda, the film in no way reflects the nature of the disaster of the first days of July 1916. However, it does show graphic images of dead soldiers, mainly German but also some British, which I think would have been shocking for audiences, even after nearly two years of war. The film was designed to show people at home the scale of the task undertaken, especially munitions workers.

Regards

Simon

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I tried the shops in Huddersfield and found they were limited to the descriptions given on their databases, and these did not seem good enough to identify the correct "Battle of the Somme" so I turned to the link given above by Alan. Not having a credit card I rang the company asking to pay by cheque. They said they needed a title, reference number, an address and of course a cheque. They are selling two films together as Steve says above. They describe them as two of the first documentaries ever made.

The title is the "Battles of the Somme and Ancre".

Number: 00702

The cost is £16-99 plus £1-80 postage. Total £18-79.

Their address is:

DD Home Entertainment

Freepost

CS 640

Tarvin

Chester

CH3 8YM

The Phone number is 01829 741490

Website is already given through Alan's link above.

I think that should do it, leave one for me,

Tony.

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There's a very good book I think published by the IWM that describes the film in detail and the units filmed in it - I'll try to find details and post them soon.

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It is 'The Battles of the Somme and Ancre' edited by Roger Smither complied by Chris McCarthy, Phillip Dutton, Stephen Badsey and Roger Smither.

ISBN 1898916004, publihed by DD Video and the IWM in 1993.

Excellent companion to the films - talks through the units in every shot.

Cheers

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Fascinating ad posted a few messages earlier by Tony - see The Battle of the Somme film later in the week, or else Charlie Chaplin earlier in the week!

What a choice! :huh:

Alan

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