Almost exactly ninety years after the beginning of the battle of the Somme, it’s been discovered that some of the battle footage (the most widelly-watched film in the UK up until Star Wars) was faked. Not so. Not all of it. The Independent has the details:
Certainly, some scenes were re-enacted and filmed for propaganda purposes. But now, using a series of new scientific techniques, analysts have proved for the first time that most of the images are genuine, enabling them to identify many of the combatants and trace their surviving relatives.One descendant who got to “meet” her grandfather, Captain Dawson, thanks to the documentary-makers was Anne Dawson.“The young captain, so fearlessly preparing to lead the advance – filmed that morning by the celebrated cinematographer Geoffrey Malins – miraculously survived the multiple gunshot wounds he sustained in the assault and was invalided back to Britain. He died in the mid-1960s, when Ms Dawson was still a small child. “I knew that my grandfather had been injured at the Somme, but to actually, physically, see him there was amazing,” said Ms Dawson, a former ITV newsreader and mother of two from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. “I was just fascinated to see him, and it was great for my daughters to be able to see their great-grandfather too. When he looks towards the camera, the family resemblance is incredible: he has a jawline and an expression on his face which look just like my father and my brother. “I remember my grandfather as an avuncular, bald-headed man who sat me on his knee and played the harmonica. To see him so much younger and about to go into that horrible carnage was a very powerful experience. You can hear stories about relatives, but actually seeing him there made it absolutely real. It was very moving; the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and for a brief moment I was in that picture with him.” The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest 24 hours in the history of the British Empire. By the next morning, nearly 60,000 young men – a large number of them civilian volunteers – would be lying dead or wounded on the killing fields of north-western France.
History: alive still.