Anthony Richards, head of documents and sound at the museum, says it is "quite amazing" to have come across so much previously unseen material about a battle that ended 100 years ago this week.The first day of the Somme was had the worst losses of any battle in British history with 57,470 British casualties with 19,240 killed. The worst part of the whole ordeal is the Brits and French advanced only 6 miles on a front of 16 miles and it cost 432,000 Brits and 200,000 French casualties of which 146,000 were killed. That is nearly 1.5 Wembly Stadiums full of dead men in just 3 months from July 1st to Nov 18th. Those were very brave men caught in a terrible meat-grinder.
What makes these testimonies "incredibly unusual" he says, is that they talk so candidly about killing in hand-to-hand fighting - and often the remorse felt afterwards.
"It's very unusual for people from World War One to talk about the actual act of killing. It's usually skirted around."
It was an "uncomfortable" subject for returning soldiers, he says, and memoirs and letters tended to avoid it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
500 First Hand Accounts of the Somme Given to British War Museum
Just in time for Battlefield 1 we have the stories of the real men who fought in the "War to End all Wars"