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First Day on the Somme

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At 7:30am on the 1st of July 1916, a continuous line of British soldiers climbed out of their trenches in northern France and began to walk slowly towards the German lines. They had been told that the artillery barrage during the preceding week had destroyed the German defences. By the end of the day the British had suffered 60,000 casualties - one casualty for every 18 inches of the front. In contrast, the total allied casualties on D-Day are estimated to be about 10,000.When the Battle of the Somme ended in mid-November 1916, the British army had advanced no more than 6 miles at an estimated cost of over 400,000 casualties - the total British, French, and German casualties were estimated to be more than 1,200,000.Ironically, all the ground gained and more was lost during the German offensive in March 1918. The British casualties then are estimated at 160,000, the French 80,000, and the Germans 250,000 - a total of almost 500,000.

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Hi,Interesting... at school we studied War Poets... all poems written in the trenches.... stiring stuff.If your interested in that period of history, you should check out those poems...Paul

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For an excellent account of the battle, read Lyn Macdonald's book - 'The Somme'.DJ

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I think the best book is is Martin Middlebrook's "The First Day on The Somme".

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See "Dulce et decorum est.." by Wilfred Owen who was killed leading his company in France on the 4th of November 1918. His parents received the news of his death after the Armistice on 11th November -the church bells were ringing in celebration. http://www.english.emory.edu/LostPoets/Dulce.htmlAlso see "The General" by Siegfried Sassoon who survived though wounded.http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/7220/

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Even with the scale of today's conflicts, given the smaller population of Europe in those days, it's hard to imagine such numbers. It really drives home the futility of some of the things we fight for--a few meters of ground, with so much lost. I am glad there are those who still remember, and take the time to remind us. It helps keep things in perspective when we reflect on how bad things are today, that our past had some very dark times, and some even darker in scale and misery.-John

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Middlebrook is very good, but Macdonald brings a personal touch to the history that I rather like - she's one of a very few female historians of the period and has several other books that I also recommend. Incidentally, Middlebrook's histories of various Bomber Command missions are also excellent.DJ

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Middlebrook's "The Nuremburg Raid" is excellent.His table of casualties for the Royal Air Force Bomber Command is interesting. 51% killed on operations9% killed in crashes in England3% seriously injured in crashes12% prisoners of war (some injured)1% shot down but evaded capture24% survived unharmedAnd the politicians refused Bomber Command a campaign medal!

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A short poem written by Marina Tsvetayeva (1892-1941)I know the truth -give up all other truths!No need for people anywhere on earth to struggle.Look -it is evening, look, it is nearly night:what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet.And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, wewho never let each other sleep above it.

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And the generals and politicians never learned. On 31st July 1917 the British Army launched the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele. It lasted until the fall of Passchendaele village on 6 November 1917. The British incurred some 310,000 casualties, and the Germans some 260,000. All for a gain of about 5 miles at most.The artillery bombardments destroyed the drainage of this low lying area and turned it ito a sea of mud. http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/121210.jpgThere are two memorials, the Menin Gate in Ypres and at Tyne Cot Cemetary not far away, that bear the names of more than 90,000 soldiers killed in the area who have no known grave. The Belgians still sound the Last Post every evening at the Menin Gate.At the end of the war the Sir Douglas Haig, the British Commander-in-Chief responsible for both the Somme and for Passchendaele, was created an Earl and given

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Those are the exact poems we studied as part of our O' level English Lit. in the very early 80's.Imagine a class of 16 year olds all stunned into silence by the power of the words...We also went on a school trip to Belgium and visited various museums and memorials to the horrors of 1914-1918.It is good to remember and keep perspective.Paul (SPIM)

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Bomber Command has been treated shamelessly by revisionists who seem to have forgotten history. Area bombing wasn't created by the command (or by A. Harris), but by the politicians - including Churchill, who took care to distance himself from it towards the end of the war. It was the only weapon available to a Britain under siege that had no other means of striking back at the King's enemies. All who participated in operations deserve the respect of the Kingdom. In truth, there is no medal sufficient for their courage and sacrifice. In that sacrifice they recapitulated the suffering and bravery of a previous generation at the Somme.DJ

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Thanks for the Post. Sometimes people forget that much sacrifice was made in past wars.This is a reminder for me that sacrifice is a noble deed, when a just cause is apparent.aopa.gif" border="0" alt="Grab My FREEWARE Voice recognition Profiles here:[a href=http://library.avsim.net/esearch.php?CatID=fs2004misc&DLID=58334]Cessna 172 Voice Profile[/a][a href=http://library.avsim.net/esearch.php?CatID=fs2004misc&DLID=60740]FSD Avanti Voice Profile[/a].You will need the main FREEWARE Flight Assistant program to use it, get it here:[a href=http://library.avsim.net/esearch.php?CatID=genutils&DLID=39661]Flight Assistant 2.2[/a]

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All the sudden upsurge of respect for the military here in the US since 9/11 always brings back to mind one of my favourite Kipling poems...For it's "Tommy this", and "Tommy that"and "sling the bugger out"but it's "Thank'ee Mr. Atkins"once the guns begin to shout.Richard

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