Tomorrow marks one hundred years since the beginning of the great Somme offensive, which was to claim so many lives. My own great uncle lost his life there in September 1916, and I wrote about this in Dulce et Decorum Est. Here, I am simply going to choose a few words and images, provided by others, and let them speak for themselves, as a memorial to the many who died. The First Day of the Somme was the opening day of the Battle of Albert.
This image was captioned, ‘British trench near the Albert-Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme’. It shows a German trench, occupied by British soldiers of A Company, 11th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment.
From Albert to Bapaume
Lonely and bare and desolate,
Stretches of muddy filtered green,
A silence half articulate
Of all that those dumb eyes have seen.
A battered trench, a tree with boughs
Smutted and black with smoke and fire,
A solitary ruined house,
A crumpled mass of rusty wire.
And scarlet by each ragged fen
Long scattered ranks of poppies lay,
As though the blood of the dead men
Had not been wholly washed away.
The image, by Richard Carline depicts the devastation by 1918, of a section of the Albert-Bapaume Road, and the surrounding landscape. A convoy of military vehicles drive along the bomb-damaged road, beside which are a few bell-tents. In the foreground is a grave, marked by a white wooden cross.
A time will certainly come in these rich vales
When a ploughman slicing open the soil
Will crunch through rusting spears, or strike
A headless iron helmet with his spade,
Or stare, wordless, at the harvest of raw bones
He exhumes from the earth’s unmarked grave.
(An extract from ‘Still', a new poem by Simon Armitage)
A contribution to Sepia Saturday.
Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."