Sunday, 10 July 2016

Remembering the battle of the Somme


Last week was the 100th Anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. It was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. After bombarding the German trenches for seven days 100,000 soldiers were sent over the top of the trenches. As the British advanced they were mown down by machine gun and rifle fire. More soldiers were sent over to replace those who were lost.  At the end of the day 19,240 British soldiers had been killed. This is more than the whole population of the town where I live,

The battle of the Battle of the Somme carried on for a further four months during which the Allies gained  only 7.5 miles (12km) of ground. It resulted in a huge number of casualties - 420,00 British, 200,000 French and 500,000 Germans.


There have been various commemorative services to remember those who had lost their lives, particularly on this first day.  Did anyone attend any organised events or see any Walking ghosts?

An event in Exeter, which was held over the week demonstrated this huge loss of life in a very visual way. The artist Rob Heard had obtained a list of  the individual names of all those who died on 1st July 1916 and clad a figurine in a shroud to represent each individual person.



It was extremely moving to visit and you could really appreciate the huge scale of the loss of life. The names of the individual soldiers were read out by volunteers, and there was a huge marquee in which was listed the names of all the soldiers who had perished.





The voice on the video you may recognise as Jim Carter (the butler in Downton Abbey.)



Do you have any ancestors who died in the First World War? Both of my grandfathers were injured during the War. When I was researching my family history I did discover that one of my grandfather's cousins was killed at the age of  23 in Belgium, his name is included in the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres.. As the time goes by future generations may not be aware that there were unmarried men in their family who never came home and have been forgotten. I am glad that I found John Barker as he will now always be remembered in our family.
The link to  this site may help if you want to trace World War 1 Family History.

Until next time.
Sarah x


32 comments:

  1. What a fascinating post. The sight of all those shrouds must have been very humbling . My grandfather did fight towards the end of the First World War. I have managed to trace his records. My middle son always attends the Menin gate ceremony when he takes a school party to the battlefields. I gather they hold a ceremony regularly and it is very moving. B x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my blogging friends Marian lives there she has written about the Menin gate http://flowersandhome.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/menin-gate.html
      Sarah x

      Delete
  2. My husband's great great uncle died in 1917 from injuries sustained in batle. He too is buried in France. He was a widow with a young child, who then was raised by his wife's parents. He was 32.

    It is good to remember all the young men who fought for their countries, especially the ones without any direct descendants. It is good you found John. We will remember them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Sarah, this was so touching to read. We saw some of the remembrances on the news over here but the figurines lying there...and imagining them as human lives lost must have been very humbling and heart breaking.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The shrouded figures are staggering. What a terrible war that was. Boys and young men. So sad all around.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Sarah,

    Very poignant post and terribly sad to have all those lives lost.
    My husbands Grandfather went to war and came back injured
    War is so horrid.
    Have a good week and thanks for sharing this post
    hugs
    Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dearest Sarah, good morning.

    I had a wonderful poetry teacher here in Minneapolis who is from England, and her poetry is based on this very battle. Her way of writing is powerful, with references to this war. But as I see your images here, I am moved yet again, by seeing this very different display. I am used to seeing white crosses or Stars of David in a cemetery, but here, there are BODIES laid out....outlines of humans, outlines of white sucked from color. Powerful.

    Wishing you peace dearest Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is amazing that the First World War was only a hundred years ago. It was such a grisly, horrific turning point where the old ways of war--throwing bodies against bodies--met mechanization and bodies didn't have a chance. Heartbreaking. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars and look where we are now. Still fighting away.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It was such a tragedy. And so futile. In the late 90s my husband and I were at the opening ceremony for the new visitor's centre at Vimy Ridge, a place where thousands of Canadians lost their lives in WW1. It was an incredibly moving experience. Seeing all those names carved on the monument was heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My mother's father, who'd emigrated from Hungary in 1906 to America, was on a ship on his way to Europe as a cavalryman when the war ended. He was 32 and might have had to fight his own countrymen if the war had ended. He married my grandmother two years later. They had six children, my mother being the oldest.

    Every December Antietam National Battlefield lights 23,110 luminaries to honor the soldiers that were killed, wounded or missing in our civil war on September 17, 1862. It was the most "bloodiest single-day battle" in American history.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I remember once driving across the Somme in France and experiencing a very strange atmosphere. I suppose the feeling was my imagination but I couldnt help thinking about all those wasted lives.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I sometimes think of those who survived and came home after that war. There was no support or anything really known of "PTSD" but it must have been everywhere, for everyone, soldier and family. Those who came home had to survive with those awful memories, all alone. Oh, when will we stop killing? This was a very moving and poignant post: thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The commemoration in Exeter looks very moving, as were the other events on 1 July. Unfortunately I didn't see any 'ghosts' - there weren't any where I am. My grandfather was on the Western Front, but by the Somme he had been sent to the Salonika campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a beautiful nostalgic post Sarah, I was particularly moved as I listened to Jim Carter. The figurines wrapped in a shroud are beautiful and poignant at the same time. It really brings home the enormous loss our country suffered that day. As far as I know I haven't lost anyone to WW1. I have also recently started researching our family tree and it is indeed fascinating! Thanks for sharing, you always post such interesting blogs!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for your link. I also recently found this site
    https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/ww1-life-stories
    to which I plan to add what I can about my grandfather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link, I never heard any stories of my grandfather's time in the war. It is good to record the stories before they are lost. Sarah x

      Delete
    2. I have only the little my mother told me. She was four when he died - so her memories would have been from my grandmother.
      It still fulfils the aim of that site - to record a life story for each person who died (or served) in that war.

      Delete
    3. Thank you for pointing out that any facts are important. I will add details for all the family of that generation. Sarah x

      Delete
  15. Dear Sarah - I am so pleased that you have shown the Rob Heard installation here as I saw it on TV but the poignancy of it did not come across anything like the images that you have shown here.
    My grandfather fought in WWI and although he returned home and was, as far as I know, uninjured he was a changed man, and I believe emotionally damaged.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Rob Heard's way of showing the terrible loss of young lives is very moving. My husband's uncle died in the battle of Somme.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh you dear heart...I just saw that you and Tavi came to visit my blog. THANK YOU! You know, a few doors down, the neighbors have a little cairn terrier. I want to photograph her! Maybe I will and share her. Phoebe is her name!

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a moving post. The Shrouds event really brought home the scale of the losses. My Great Grandfather died in 1914 at Ypres and his name is on the Menin Gate too. He had been a chef before signing up and my Nan was too young to remember him. Such a waste of so many lives.

    ReplyDelete
  19. An incredibly moving post. That installation really brings it home.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is great. We are going to visit friends who live in Normandy this year and they are going to give us the battlefield tour around that area, I'm really looking forward to it as so many of our friends have been over there and say how moving it is x

    ReplyDelete
  21. To answer your question, yes my husband's grandfather in the first world war and my husband's father in the second world war. My father-in-law learned how to smoke during that war and died later with emphysema duo to smoking. Great memorial with the figurines and indeed sad.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The history is interesting...all those wars and battles. A thoughtful post...
    Love from Titti

    ReplyDelete
  23. To see all the shrouds like this on the ground makes one realize how many persons were killed – far too many, to die so tragically when they were so young. I enjoyed listening to Jim Carter – I love the sound of his voice and the poignancy of his words. I have looked at many sites on the net on the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, but on French sites. I just went back to one and it is also in English, here it is: http://www.somme-battlefields.com/ . I used to stay at my cousin’s great grandmother when I was a child. Her son, or my cousin’s great uncle had died in WWI. His mother talked about him often and missed him so much.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for this link,it contains so much information. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
  25. I've recently seen a film that suggests how easily that horrific war could have been avoided. Doesn't bear thinking about.
    Amalia
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  26. Very interesting Sarah, thank you...

    gramswisewords.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

Comments are the best thing about blogging so please join in and brighten my day!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...