Battle of the Somme; 97 years ago, today.

#2
The Muddy Grave of the German Field Army.
 
#4
Our neighbour's daughter is going on a three day school trip to Ypres at October half term. It'll be one of those experiences that the kid will remember for the rest of her life. I sincerely hope they are still doing it when my daughter gets to the school.

Her mother was round yesterday whingeing that it was costing £300. 850,000 British dead, let alone our allies and the enemy dead and all she can do is moan about the cost. Unbelieveable.
 
#6
It's not in the slightest unbelievable, £300 is a fair wodge of cash and the mother is finding it. So fair play to her.

Smacking slightly here of another ARRSE-ism, although given the makeup of the site I don't suppose it's unusual. In 2013 it is entirely possible to be a well educated, well rounded and respectful British citizen without having more than a passing knowledge of the events of the world wars.

That I said, I was on the then almost mandatory (for a lad in a Belfast prod grammar school) Theipval visit and it's certainly a sobering experience. I just wish it wasn't so associated locally with flutes and drums and bowler hats and such.
 
#7
It's not in the slightest unbelievable, £300 is a fair wodge of cash and the mother is finding it. So fair play to her.

Smacking slightly here of another ARRSE-ism, although given the makeup of the site I don't suppose it's unusual. In 2013 it is entirely possible to be a well educated, well rounded and respectful British citizen without having more than a passing knowledge of the events of the world wars.

That I said, I was on the then almost mandatory (for a lad in a Belfast prod grammar school) Theipval visit and it's certainly a sobering experience. I just wish it wasn't so associated locally with flutes and drums and bowler hats and such.
£300 is not a huge wodge to the mother, believe me. It's her default response to everything.
 
#8
£300 is not a huge wodge to the mother, believe me. It's her default response to everything.
Bog standard response from anyone asked to hand over money for anything they're not 100% certain they need or want... Look at the gurning on here about dosh. She's paid it though, right? So nice one Mum.
 
#9
It is not till you visit the battlefields that you can appreciate the sheer number of casualties lost. I read somewhere that on the first day of the battle there were 60,000 casualties on the British side alone and over 20,000 were killed.
It's the grave yards that get me every time. The sheer size but also the way they are looked after so well. I did the Yser March round the Ypres area a couple of times when I was a Royal Anglian. We entered one grave yard and there was row after row of Royal Leicester lads. Very sobering.
 
#11
It's not in the slightest unbelievable, £300 is a fair wodge of cash and the mother is finding it. So fair play to her.

Smacking slightly here of another ARRSE-ism, although given the makeup of the site I don't suppose it's unusual. In 2013 it is entirely possible to be a well educated, well rounded and respectful British citizen without having more than a passing knowledge of the events of the world wars.

That I said, I was on the then almost mandatory (for a lad in a Belfast prod grammar school) Theipval visit and it's certainly a sobering experience. I just wish it wasn't so associated locally with flutes and drums and bowler hats and such.
there are a few people i work with who's kids are 14-16 and going round france seeing the battlefields seems to be increasingly common (it certainly wasnt something we did in the 1990's) i also think there will be a spike in interest as we pass through the 100 year anniversaries and although i would expect the knowledge and memory to live on in that agegroup this will start to pass from public consciousness with them.

personally ive never done a battlefield tour but would really like to at some point
 
#12
Maybe its a generational thing, or maybe you just don't know until you are put in that situation, but I really don't think I would be able to do what those men did. The conditions they had to live and fight in. Seeing literally hundreds of their mates killed and wounded. Thousands and thousand dying all around them. Then going home to a country that didn't understand, in a time where you didn't talk about you're emotions and inner demons. Utmost respect to each and every one of them. Such a tragic waste of lives.
QS
 
#13
Maybe its a generational thing, or maybe you just don't know until you are put in that situation, but I really don't think I would be able to do what those men did. The conditions they had to live and fight in. Seeing literally hundreds of their mates killed and wounded. Thousands and thousand dying all around them. Then going home to a country that didn't understand, in a time where you didn't talk about you're emotions and inner demons. Utmost respect to each and every one of them. Such a tragic waste of lives.
QS

Can remember this being debated at length during a session in the early nineties when the consensus was that young people (then) would have answered the call as their forefathers had but, and it's a big but, the more questionable decisions of the high command would have been questioned and, ultimately, resisted with arms.
 
#14
Can remember this being debated at length during a session in the early nineties when the consensus was that young people (then) would have answered the call as their forefathers had but, and it's a big but, the more questionable decisions of the high command would have been questioned and, ultimately, resisted with arms.
I think any doubts about the "playstation generation" willingness or ability to do the job has been well and truly put to bed in the last decade. I agree that it would be a big ask, to expect us to march in ranks towards spitting enemy machine guns, as most of the younger lads I know would simply tell you to **** off. However I don't think we'd ever be in that situation again. Not with the advent of war journalism sending home stories and reality's of conflict in real time. Just look at how risk averse the army is now compared to 30 years ago.
 
#15
I think any doubts about the "playstation generation" willingness or ability to do the job has been well and truly put to bed in the last decade. I agree that it would be a big ask, to expect us to march in ranks towards spitting enemy machine guns, as most of the younger lads I know would simply tell you to **** off. However I don't think we'd ever be in that situation again. Not with the advent of war journalism sending home stories and reality's of conflict in real time. Just look at how risk averse the army is now compared to 30 years ago.
i think that risk aversion has more to do with joe public and latterly his elected representatives not really seeing the point in the last few conflicts, i think if FI2 happened there wouldnt be the same aversion.
 
#16
Modern risk aversion is no bad thing. In the face of a potential slaughter (with no gain for either side) of such magnitude in this day and age, I would sincerely hope that the Generals were forced up first by their angry, bellicose charges.
 
#18
, I would sincerely hope that the Generals were forced up first by their angry, bellicose charges.
If you had said politicians on both sides then I would agree with you. However just blaming the Generals when the tactics of the day didn't have much in the way of options and when warfare had changed in such a huge way reeks of the "Lions commanded by Donkey's" viewpoint.
 
#19
In the face of a potential slaughter (with no gain for either side) of such magnitude in this day and age, I would sincerely hope that the Generals were forced up first by their angry, bellicose charges.
...except that contrary to what "Blackadder" and "Oh, What a Lovely War" would have you believe, the Generals were forward, and AIUI getting killed at a rate greater than in WW2.

I should reread the book about our local Pals' Battalion. ISTR that their first Brigade Commander got shot and killed doing a HO/TO recce patrol before his brigade even reached the front, and the Divisional Commander spent the first afternoon of the Somme riding the battlefield directing stretcher parties (because he could see better, being up on horseback).
 
#20
The senior officers ie Haig,French,were products of a Victorian military education where the battlefield was fluid and Generals still relied on cavalry to disperce an enemy force and the infantry to mop up the lasts pockets of resistance.

None of these men had ever encountered a static battlefield before and had no experience in how to engage an enemy in such circumstances, so they tried the siege mentality of war by attrition and unfortunately this is how the war played out for the next four years.

One hundred years later I am not sure if we can really judge these men as hindsight is a wonderful thing.
 

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