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Remembered Today:

Somme site comments


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In advance of tonight's Somme TV documdrama .. can I invite members to visit the site below:-


Select the 'flash timeline' and give me your comments on some of the blurbs which run up the side menu.

I am somewhat taken aback by the description of the Tyneside Irish making a breakthrough and securing 700 yards of German held territory.

I could also pick holes in the 'Ulster and Belfast Pals' comments, but at least they are getting a mention so I won't.

Merely seeking views - I think C4 is to be congratulated in putting up such a site etc.

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Yes, congratulations to Channel 4 for putting the web site up.

I suspect that "keen enthusiasts", such as the GWF Pals, will always be able to pick holes in the work done by TV researchers, who are given a simple remit "find out what you can...", etc.

Let's just be glad that the program is being shown!

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Note the competition for the 'text msg' - at the risk of incurring wrath, reckon this will attract a few school entrants which can only be a good thing.

The flash movie is well done.

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Just spent some time looking at it, enjoyed what was there to see, bit put off by ask jeeves though.


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Liked the time line maps. I had never understood before just how small an area all the famous battle names were in.

What on earth did Rawlinson mean by saying they'd be fighting the French next, and that they were like children?


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Interesting that C4 make Rawlinson the villain of the piece. The length and depth of the line to be attacked were Haig's ideas. Using cavalry was Haig's idea. Infantry tactics, as has been amply displayed by Prior and Wilson did not consist solely of waves of slow walking men "standing upright, in straight lines, with 5 metres (5.5 yards) between each man and 100 metres (110 yards) between each wave." There were many variations of attack decided upon locally.

The idea that the Montauban attack gave a suitable opportunity for the use of cavalry is nonsense. That 'chance' happened two weeks later at Bazentin and, anyway, the cavalry were not under Rawlinson's direct control.

The stuff about artillery is lifted from Keegan's 'The Face of Battle'

And where do they get the idea that "The German first line was 500 to 1,000 metres away (that's between five and 10 football pitches in length)"? About the widest part was opposite Ovillers and that was maybe 500 YARDS wide.

Staggering that Haig is barely mentioned in the text at all!

Other comments:

"In such statistics, the word 'men' is used but actually most of the soldiers were youths, aged between 18 and 22."

I have done an analysis of the age of the casualties of the 56th Division on 1st July 1916. Cannot see why this should be unrepresentative of the whole and it covers a sample of about 1600 men.

Average ages

Private 22

L/Cpls and Cpls 24

Sgts 28

2nd Lts 24

Capts/Majors 30

"5,000 from London died within minutes of one another."

Utter nonsense. According to Soldiers Died 1386 men who enlisted in London died on 1st July and a lot of those were not London residents.

Quite a lot of it is out of the Blackadder School of First World War studies, e.g. "incompetent upper-class officers ... leading good ordinary youth to the slaughter."

As for: "On the other hand, the slaughter of officers – often ex-public-school boys – during the Battle of the Somme did allow many lower-middle-class and upper-working-class men to become captains and even majors, simply because they had proved themselves on the battlefield. This kind of social mobility had a good long-term effect on the British class system. "

This stuff is, frankly, beyond contempt. Makes me worry about the nature of the programme but shall watch nonetheless.

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