Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source6
Extract from the British film 'The Battle of the Somme', produced in 1916
(Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum: 191/1-5)
  • This clip comes from the British film 'The Battle of the Somme', which was shown in late 1916. The film was controversial in Britain because it showed some horrific battle scenes. However, it was a great success. It appeared that people at home really wanted to know what war was like.
  • This clip comes from the section of the film that looks at the preparations for the attack. By the summer of 1916, the British Army had grown enormously. The men who volunteered in 1914-15 were finally trained and ready to fight.
  • However, to supply an army of hundreds of thousands with food, weapons, ammunition and all the other equipment needed was a huge job. This is why many troops spent much time transporting equipment and ammunition.
  • This clip shows unusually heavy activity, which fits with the fact that the British Army was going into the largest battle in its history.
  • On average, a British soldier spent about 4-5 days per month in the firing line, in shifts of 2-3 days. For much of the rest of the time, soldiers were in reserve, waiting to be called up if they were needed. When they were not on front line duty, soldiers had relatively light duties.
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