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1916 the Somme

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ChiefPlanner

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/art...-wide-art-event-honours-fallen-somme-soldiers
Commuters across the UK were stopped in their tracks this morning as thousands of volunteers dressed in First World War uniforms took part in a unique event to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, organised by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in collaboration with National Theatre director Rufus Norris. Handing out cards with the names of the fallen, the 'ghost soldiers' were seen at train stations, high streets and thoroughfares, with hundreds of people uploading photos to social media along with the hashtag #wearehere. BBC Arts went behind the scenes with a group of the volunteers in Glasgow earlier today to shed a light on this extraordinary project - watch and find out more below.

The project, commissioned by 14-18 NOW, enlisted the help of men aged between 16 and 52 from a variety of backgrounds, each a reminder of an individual soldier killed on the first day of the battle and each wearing historically accurate uniforms representing the 15 regiments which suffered losses that day....
Anyone pick this up ? - a good friend spotted them at Reading station and was handed a card for a (lost) Welsh Infrantry man..

They also travelled on the tube...spare a thought ....
 
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me123

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I was just thinking that we're missing a thread on this important anniversary. Thank you "Chief Planner" for doing so.

I wasn't out and about today, but was very moved by the images of the art event, that really helped bring this important milestone to the public attention. It was a much needed call back to reality after the events of the last week. The Somme was a disastrous moment in our history, and it's important that we take a moment to remember the over one million men who died fighting for a cause they believed in.

I'm pleased to see that the human sacrifice at the Somme has not been forgotten.
 

backontrack

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I wasn't out and about today, but was very moved by the images of the art event, that really helped bring this important milestone to the public attention. It was a much needed call back to reality after the events of the last week. The Somme was a disastrous moment in our history, and it's important that we take a moment to remember the over one million men who died fighting for a cause they believed in.

I'm pleased to see that the human sacrifice at the Somme has not been forgotten.

Lions led by donkeys indeed.

Thank you for this thread as well, 'ChiefPlanner'.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Both of my Grandfathers were involved in the Somme and other horrors of WW1, they did not speak of it. I know too that my maternal grandfather was also involved of another bad event at Zeebrugge, from what I can understand it was a bit like Dunkirk in WW11. He suffered from bad dreams years later which I later realised must have been flashbacks.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Both of my Grandfathers were involved in the Somme and other horrors of WW1, they did not speak of it. I know too that my maternal grandfather was also involved of another bad event at Zeebrugge, from what I can understand it was a bit like Dunkirk in WW11. He suffered from bad dreams years later which I later realised must have been flashbacks.

Both mine also ...my grandmothers first husband survived both France and Gallipoli - only to be struck down by influenza in 1918 and expiring from that - as he was technically still in the service as a Quartermaster Sergeant , he got a full military funeral and headstone - resting in a Carmarthenshire churchyard.

(My grandmother married again in 1920 - many of her generation did not find partners)
 

AndrewE

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This is relevant too:
http://www.seat61.com/news.htm
Anniversary of the Somme - a personal anecdote, sort of...

The big push on the Western Front happened 100 years ago. 20,000 British soldiers were killed on the first day. Fast-forwarding to London in the early 1990s, I had just taken over as Station Manager for Charing Cross, a patch which also covered Waterloo East. All the litter bins had been removed during the IRA campaign and those at Waterloo East had been placed in The Morgue. This was (and presumably still is) a glory hole underneath the footbridge ramp onto platform B/C. The door is at track level in the ballast at the Charing Cross end. Whenever we needed to make something disappear, we'd 'Stick it in The Morgue'. I must have had other things on my mind, it was months before I finally asked the bleedin' obvious question. "Why do we call it The Morgue?". I was duly told. The WW1 ambulance trains came up from Dover and offloaded at Waterloo East for St Thomas Hospital, before running empty into Charing Cross. Some of the wounded didn't make it. No prizes for guessing where their bodies were put. And it's still called The Morgue today. You see, railwaymen never forget. And nor should we...
A
 

Busaholic

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The church where I was a choirboy in the early 1960s (Holy Trinity in Eltham, SE London) hosted the annual Gallipoli memorial service and dozens of the survivors marched through Eltham to the church, many bearing banners. I can tell you that it moved us and made us think, which maybe few events did to young teenagers growing up in that early post Second World War period. Many years later I was asked to commit my imperfect memories of those services to tape as part of a project by a woman I met by chance whose father had been killed at Gallipoli.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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Both mine also ...my grandmothers first husband survived both France and Gallipoli - only to be struck down by influenza in 1918 and expiring from that - as he was technically still in the service as a Quartermaster Sergeant , he got a full military funeral and headstone - resting in a Carmarthenshire churchyard.

(My grandmother married again in 1920 - many of her generation did not find partners)

That is a real odd co-incidence, my paternal grandmother was also married to a chap who served in WW1, not sure if he was army or navy, but when he got back, he too caught the influenza at the end of the war and passed away, my grandmother then married my grandfather in 1920. I think many people were weakened because of the war and when the flu came, they did not have the strength to fight it. It killed a huge amount of people in Europe.

My father who was born in 1923, told me that one of his female teachers at school was a lovely lady, but her fiance was killed in the war and as you say above, she and many other girls in the same position never married in respect of their lost men. Very sad.
 

ChiefPlanner

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I think many people were weakened because of the war and when the flu came, they did not have the strength to fight it. It killed a huge amount of people in Europe.


A couple of years we did a work "team building day" - clearing some of the overgrown areas of Nunhead Cemetary in London - we concentrated on an area which was for the urban poor - (about 4 per grave with only small tablet headstones) -some of this had not been touched for many years and was covered in soil etc. This area dated from the winter of 1918 / early 1919 - and the inhabitants were almost all very young children and young men (aged 18 - 25) , presumably victims of influenza, no NHS or money - and presumably low resistance and nutrition took a toll. Very sobering indeed.
 

Tetchytyke

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that is the standard argument isn't it? However, were they? Does that phrase provide an inaccurate assessment of leadership / "generalship" during the first world war?

I think it is largely accurate, at least in the case of the Somme. The Generals weren't astute enough to understand that the Germans might have built better trenches, they weren't astute enough to understand that artillery fire doesn't break barbed wire, they weren't astute enough to understand that machine guns were easily dismantlable. They expected to walk across No Man's Land and walk into the German trenches. They were idiots.

They weren't just idiots here and at Passchendaele either. They were idiots ten years previous at the Battle of Spion Kop too.

Interesting that General Douglas Haig was a member of the Bullingdon Club. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
 

Senex

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I think it is largely accurate, at least in the case of the Somme. The Generals weren't astute enough to understand that the Germans might have built better trenches, they weren't astute enough to understand that artillery fire doesn't break barbed wire, they weren't astute enough to understand that machine guns were easily dismantlable. They expected to walk across No Man's Land and walk into the German trenches. They were idiots.

They weren't just idiots here and at Passchendaele either. They were idiots ten years previous at the Battle of Spion Kop too.

Interesting that General Douglas Haig was a member of the Bullingdon Club. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
And they appear not to have realised that the German Intelligence was pretty good.
How far was it a case of top brass who'd risen to the top in another era and simply had no grasp of what modern technology applied to war could do? I suppose at first they might be understood, even if not forgiven, but how slow they were to learn does not seem so forgivable.
 

Calthrop

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On the “personal / family”, as opposed to “strategy and tactics” side of this subject: the family I come from would seem -- at least on my mother’s side -- to have been unusually lucky in World War I. Of my maternal grandfather, and his and my grandmother’s male siblings: quite a number were not in the armed forces at all in that war; and some of those who were, were in non-combatant, non-front-line parts thereof. The ones who did see combat, essentially survived in one piece physically and mentally. (No end-of-war influenza victims, either. One sibling died in 1915, from causes nothing to do with the war.) I see this as due at least in part, to a “skewed demographic”: those involved, were born in the 1870s and 80s, rather than the 90s – it tended to be very young men who were hit hardest of all by the WWI carnage.

I know much less about my father’s side of the family: but am aware for certain, that his father was not in the Forces in WWI. He would, again, have been a little on the old side. Also, according to family lore he was a bit of a spiv – one feels that at need, he would have wangled some means for his not having to go into harm’s way.
 
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