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The First World War from Above

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
On BBC 1 now. Featuring the battle of the Somme. So far they have featured a couple of war graves and now they are discussing the tunneling battle. Very sensetively done so far but also giving an indication of just how hard-fought this rather unreported combat was.
 
B

Boozy

Guest
#2
I'm watching that just now, quite interesting but I'm disappointed there aren't as many aeriel scenes as I'd hoped for. Would like to be able to watch the aeriel footage in full myself but still well worth a watch.
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
Ever since I first heard about it I've been interested in tunnel war. I noticed last week (possibly in Sainsbury's DVD section) that there had been a film made about it but being me I've forgotten what it was called.

Impressed that they tracked down the still living daughter of the French airship pilot. By the time of the 1939-1945 re-run he'd been promoted to Captain in the French Navy. After the surrender of France he (and his Polish wife) refused to give up the fight and continued spying for the allies. They were both arrested and tortured by the Gestapo and then executed... The daughter didn't remember her parents and the video footage was the first time she had ever seen her father in anything except a photo.
 
#6
Myself and Mrs STILTS watched this to, watching the program and seeing the descruction from the air was a bit more of an education instead of the ground level pitcures we are use to. But still a very good piece.

20,000 casualties not fatalities. Still absolutely dreadful though.
Or one casulty per 2" gained during the Battle of Pachendale, very sobering.


STILTS
 
#7
Did the first world war as an 'O' level subject so its always been an interest of mine. The footage from the airship showing the aerial combat site was amazing. The figures are truly staggering and so is the concept of how this war was fought along with the background leading up to it. A good programme albeit short.
 
#8
I agree.The airship footage was fantastic.As for the images of Ypres...........all that was left was the bend in the road,and a bit of the church.We really have no idea of those events do we.
 
#9
I vaguely remember a similar programme.IIRC they reckon that some of these mines were never detonated,and the explosives are still buried underground.Must make life as a Belgian farmer slightly more interesting.
 
#10
20,000 dead per **foot** of ground gained??? was it actually as bad as that?
Reminds me of the Blackadder sketch, when Capt. Darling shows Gen. Melchett the model of the ground captured in the latest big push.

Gen. Melchett is v impressed and asks what scale the model is.

Capt. Darling proudly states " 1:1 Sir ! THIS is the ground we've captured ".

Comedy genius to be that tragic and funny at the same time !
 
#11
Ever since I first heard about it I've been interested in tunnel war. I noticed last week (possibly in Sainsbury's DVD section) that there had been a film made about it but being me I've forgotten what it was called.

Impressed that they tracked down the still living daughter of the French airship pilot. By the time of the 1939-1945 re-run he'd been promoted to Captain in the French Navy. After the surrender of France he (and his Polish wife) refused to give up the fight and continued spying for the allies. They were both arrested and tortured by the Gestapo and then executed... The daughter didn't remember her parents and the video footage was the first time she had ever seen her father in anything except a photo.
I think the film is Beneath Hill 60. It's a true story about Anzacs planting charges before a planned attack. I think my mates got it so I'll get my hands on it and post a review.

Wait out.
 
#12
I thought it was a good overall introductory programme into the Western Front, but very scarce aerial footage, and those bits that it did show was repeated throughout the programme - and were the same clips used in the news bulletins last week. I came away feeling cheated as I wanted to see the 70 minute film, not some bloke wandering about the Somme asking "How did it feel that...?" all the bloody time.
Why not just show the film with a narrative and break it up with anecodotal stories or modern day shots? Having said that, the bit where he showed the pilot's daughter the footage of her father was well done.
 

jim24

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
The officer in charge of the Tunnels was Welshman Maj John Newton Griffiths who had been in charge of building underground Railways and sewars in London, his father built the Market Hall in Brecon, still there, the book you need is "Beneath Flanders Fields"
 
#14
I watched the programme last night and then rooted out a 1:10,000 linen backed map , prepared by IX Topo Section July 1917 , of the Mont Kemmel area which was mentioned specifically as the Airship overflew that area . The map was give to me years ago by an uncle who served in the Great War . It is marked Secret Not to go beyond Brigade Headquarters . A couple of interesting points …. The light railways for moving stores etc were given names associated with London Station names and secondly but more stark there is a comment to the effect that just because an object appears on the map it may not necessarily be there on the ground …. dramatically confirmed by the views last night which were like looking down on a moonscape .
 
#15
I vaguely remember a similar programme.IIRC they reckon that some of these mines were never detonated,and the explosives are still buried underground.Must make life as a Belgian farmer slightly more interesting.
There is a programme on the history channels from time to time with the guy that was discussing the tunnel war, where they investigate a tunnel on Vimy Ridge at the Canadian Memorial and find the tunnel intact including the main charge in place, directly under the main road IIRC, great program.

It also shows some of the living conditions of the barracks built under ground as well as some of the tunnel fighting, where they find bullets and ricochets in the wall, as well as describing fighting which was so hand to hand they had to feel the epaulets of the soldier before stabbing him in the dark, also how diggers went down on many occasions to come back up and find the trench had been captured while they where down digging.
 
#16
The Belgian archaeologist hit the nail on the head when he said that the air photos that remain are an untapped resource. The images and any surviving analysis/interpretation reports should be able to throw some light on decisions made by military planners before the battles took place..After all, this is one of the prime resources that assisted in the decision-making process.

If that's true for WW1, then how much more so is it the same for WW2, where far more imagery exists (now under the control of the RCAHMS in Edinburgh) and the analysis reports can be read, in conjunction with ULTRA intercepts, at the National Archive at Kew.
 
#17
Some years ago I visited the Somme battlefields and saw many piles of unexploded WW1 ordinance piled up at the side of the road/track waiting to be collected by relevant authority.
The Thiepval Memorial unveiled in 1932 has listed on it the names of the 72,090 missing British and Commonwealth men who died in the Battle of the Somme of the First World War and who have no known grave. This is to me the most powerful indication of the carnage of the battle fought between July 1915 and February 1918.
 

Attachments

#18
Some years ago I visited the Somme battlefields and saw many piles of unexploded WW1 ordinance piled up at the side of the road/track waiting to be collected by relevant authority.
The Thiepval Memorial unveiled in 1932 has listed on it the names of the 72,090 missing British and Commonwealth men who died in the Battle of the Somme of the First World War and who have no known grave. This is to me the most powerful indication of the carnage of the battle fought between July 1915 and February 1918.
If you want another shock about no known grave then go to the Menin Gate and have a look at that, then pop over to Tyne cote and you then realise the names on the wall at the back are there because they ran out of room on the gate, it is a really strange feeling

Also I found the German cemeteries very sombre, I actually felt worse walking around them than I did the commonwealth graves, partly to do with the fact that each head stone had 3 or 4 names on.
 
#19
Also I found the German cemeteries very sombre, I actually felt worse walking around them than I did the commonwealth graves, partly to do with the fact that each head stone had 3 or 4 names on.
I agree. I find the Commonwealth cemeteries have such a calm air about them I always feel intensely moved that these men who died in the rage of a war really are resting in peace.

The German equivalents seem to be shrouded in a bleak mood of brooding 'angst'.
 
#20
To be honest I didn't even think about looking around a German cemetery, I was following a route set that was entirely focused on the British battlefields, cemeteries and memorials on The Somme. Next time I visit I was planning on staying longer and having a much more thorough look around at all the sites both Allied and German there.
 

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