The interactive parts of this resource no longer work, but it has been archived so you can continue using the rest of it.

Focus on Film Focus on Series

We was dead keen

Description of film

Henry tells us about the first major battle he fought in. The plan was to attack a village called Serre that was well defended. He talks about the defences and the barbed wire. He explains the plan to hit the defences with an artillery barrage to destroy these defences. He then tells us that he and the men had faith in the barrage and the generals, but that soon changed. He then goes on to describe the events of 1st July. They were ordered to march across because it was expected there would be no defences, but were slaughtered by shells and machine gun fire. A graphic description follows of the attack. The account points out that the wire was not cut and was piled up with bodies. It was a complete disaster.


This clip is one of fourteen clips in which actor John Gregor recreates a Great War soldier called Henry Fairhurst of the Barnsley Pals. In this clip he describes his experiences on the first day at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Interesting or important points about the film

In all of these clips of Henry Fairhurst it is important to be aware that the actor is reconstructing a character from the past. He is using original source material and other research to create what he thinks is a plausible reconstruction of the thoughts and views of a private in the Barnsley Pals. When watching each clip it is important that viewers consider whether they feel the information given is accurate, but much more importantly whether they feel the tone and emphasis the actor gives to particular issues is in line with their own reading of the evidence from the time.

To view this film, you will require Adobe Flash 8 or higher and must have Javascript enabled.

View this film without Javascript in a new window.

Further information
Sub categoryThe Great War
FilmWe was dead keen
ProducerThe National Archives
Year1917 / 2006
DateNot known