July 4, 1916 – Battle of the Somme greeted with ‘the greatest enthusiasm’

There’s no denying the effect of the murders. Austria-Hungary and its ally Imperial Germany rallied to the cause of war and one month later Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The declaration drew Germany, Russia, France, Belgium, Montenegro and Great Britain shortly after. The worst war in human history up to that time was underway. Eventually, more than 9 million soldiers and 8 million civilians would die in the war. Millions more were maimed and wounded by killing that occurred on an industrial scale. Empires were wiped from the map, new nations emerged, and the world was reshaped by more upheaval than anything that had occurred since the fall of Rome. {The Great War changed everything}

Satirical drawing by R. Ferro [Cupidity – Greed]

Cupidity

– See more at: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/the-debate-on-the-origins-of-world-war-one#sthash.uzXCjY4z.dpuf

Establishing the responsibility for the escalation of the July Crisis into a European war – and ultimately a world war – was paramount even before fighting had begun. The governments of Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary tried desperately to ensure that they did not appear to be the aggressor in July and August 1914. This was crucial because the vast armies of soldiers that would be needed to fight this war could not be summoned for a war of aggression. Socialists, of whom there were many millions by 1914, would not have supported a belligerent foreign policy, and could only be relied upon to fight in a defensive war. Populations would only rally and make sacrifices willingly if the cause was just – and that meant fighting a defensive war.The French and Belgians, Russians, Serbs and British were convinced they were indeed involved in a defensive struggle for just aims. Austrians and Hungarians were fighting to revenge the death of Franz Ferdinand. Germans were assured by their Kaiser, Wilhelm II, and their Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, that Germany’s neighbours had ‘forced the sword’ into its hands. {The debate on the origins of World War One}

War has no mercy for non of the parties involved. All going to the battlefields (or battlespace) bring misery to their families and others.

At one moment fighters are taken by excitement (uphory) at an other by dismay. Dejection belongs to all involved.

Experienced newspaper and magazine journalist who is currently the Director of the Leicester Centre for Journalism at De Montfort University, John Dilley, looks at the Great War whilst he conducts research into how local and national newspapers covered this first horrible experience which caught the whole world.

Today we should realise how people were used in the war-machine and how every time in such battles letters from loved ones are as important as bullets and shells for the the fighters serving in the battle places. At first they might have felt full  of energy and ambition but from their letters we know this changed quite quickly.

Cyril Newman, a lance corporal, wrote to his fiancée Winnie on receiving two letters from her:

“I feel a different person. Ten years younger – a hundred times lighter of heart. We all feel like this. The arrival of mail is vital to our happiness. ‘No Post’ gives us a kind of malaise.” {April 25, 1916 – Words of war play a vital role in saving sanity at the Front}

Though

Most of the letters were dull and repetitive but local papers did a fantastic job in spotting the extraordinary nuggets nestling among the ordinary exchange of everyday life. {April 25, 1916 – Words of war play a vital role in saving sanity at the Front}

He notices how The Daily Telegraph was typical in its eulogies saying:

“The British Empire has just sustained one of the heaviest losses which it has been called upon to bear during the whole war. The news came upon London yesterday like a crushing and senseless blow. The sorrow was unfeigned, the distress universal.” {June 13, 1916 – Grief-stricken nation mourns for Lord Kitchener sunk by the German Navy}

but also let us know how The Advertiser story gives an insight into how eagerly the public sought as many details as they could. The account goes on:

“The evening papers were quickly bought up and at first there were hopes that Lord Kitchener might be saved. {June 13, 1916 – Grief-stricken nation mourns for Lord Kitchener sunk by the German Navy}

For those who felt they could not go to the battle there was often (not to say in most of the cases) no understanding.

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This wonderful cartoon depicting a man trying to avoid First World War conscription before a Tribunal of local worthies sums up the working man’s lot in 1916. {April 18, 1916 – Laughter as men try to avoid WW1 conscription}

You may question how many listened to their inside voice or to the Words of God. And how many listened to those who  experienced the hell of German artillery.

“I had a narrow escape from at least a serious wound. I had my water bottle smashed by a piece of shrapnel. The following day I got my touch of gas – not badly – bit I felt it more as the time passed on.” {March 28, 1916 – Bells toll for mankind but peal for Fred Kilborn}

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Preceding articles

Reflections on the Great War #1 100 years on

Reflections on the Great War #2

Too Young To Fight?

Remembrance isn’t only about those who fought, but also those who refused

In Flanders Fields II – a new poem in response to the original

Lessons of the Somme

The Somme (1916) Working Class Holocaust

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Read also

  1. All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting… George Orwell
  2. Parade’s End and Saint Flora Castle
  3. 1914 – 2014 preparations
  4. 11 November, a day to remember #1 Until Industrialisation
  5. 11 November, a day to remember #2 From the Industrialisation
  6. Mons 2014 remembering the Great War
  7. Liège 2014 remembering the Great War
  8. August 4, 1914 to be remembered
  9. Honouring hundreds of thousands of victims of the brutal Somme battle
  10. Ulster Tower ceremony for the Irish at the Somme battle
  11. Aftermath
  12. Juncker warns for possible new war

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Related reading

  1. Anatomy of a World War I Artillery Barrage
  2. History is Personal 1916-2016
  3. One hundred years ago
  4. Centenary of the Battle of the Somme — July 1, 2016
  5. The Battle of the Somme
  6. Battle of the Somme – 100 Years
  7. 24 June 1916
  8. 25 June 1916
  9. 28 June 1916
  10. 29 June 1916
  11. 30 June 1916
  12. June 30, 1916
  13. 1 July 1916 – Somme
  14. Remembering Harry, a casualty of the Battle of the Somme
  15. The Last Day Of The Somme.
  16. The Lochnagar Mine
  17. The Absolutist by John Boyne – book review
  18. Review: The Great War (Sacco)
  19. The Great War changed everything
  20. Red Poppies
  21. Europe, war and the imagination

newspapers and the great war

Deeply moving events to commemorate one of the most infamous milestones of the First World War were held on Friday, exactly a century after the first British and French soldiers climbed out of the trenches at the Battle of the Somme.

We now know that July 1, 1916, was one of the bloodiest days in British military history. By nightfall, some 57,000 Commonwealth and 2,000 French soldiers had become casualties – more than 19,000 of whom had been killed.

The Battle of the Somme continued for another 140 days and when the offensive was halted in November, more than 1,000,000 Commonwealth, French and German soldiers had been wounded, captured, or killed.

Inevitably, the July 4, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser did not report those terrible losses. However, despite the slowness of the technology a century ago, the editor manages to include the news sourced from an official Press…

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6 Comments

by | 2016/07/04 · 1:17 pm

6 responses to “July 4, 1916 – Battle of the Somme greeted with ‘the greatest enthusiasm’

  1. Pingback: The Great War changed everything | Marcus Ampe's Space

  2. What an excellent post with its many resources!

    Thank you for including mine. I greatly appreciate it.

    Like

  3. Pingback: The War to end all wars | From guestwriters

  4. Pingback: Why are we killing? | From guestwriters

  5. Pingback: Anatomy of a World War I Artillery Barrage | Marcus Ampe's Space

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