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The Battle of the Somme 1916

Description of film

This sequence opens with a title commenting on the supply operation to make the attack on the Somme possible. We then see a panning shot of a vast supply dump. This is followed by another title introducing ‘plum pudding’ mortar bombs and then a sequence showing these weapons in action. After this we see a long sequence of soldiers fixing bayonets and lining up to go over the top.


'The Battle of the Somme' was released in 1916. The government did not produce it, but they did approve it. The film was deeply controversial because the battle scenes were so shocking. Many observers felt it was too graphic. On the other hand, it appears that people appreciated the reality of the film-making. They preferred a film like 'The Battle of the Somme' because it didn't try to pretend that war was easy or fun. People probably already had a good idea of what trench warfare was like from local newspapers and from talking to soldiers on leave.

Interesting or important points about the film

This is typical sequence from the Battle of the Somme. It is informative in that it shows how weapons worked and also the massive supply operation. It is also surprisingly realistic and grim, especially when compared to modern reporting of wars.

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Further information
Sub categoryThe Great War
FilmThe Battle of the Somme 1916
SourceIWM 191
ProducerBritish Topical Committee for War Films
Date11th August 1916