Was the film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ an accurate overview of the War?


The film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ was a documentary made by the British government. It was released during to the World War I to give an insight of what was happening on the battlefields in France. It was purposely designed to raise the spirits within Britain and reassure those concerned about there loved ones out on the battlefield. However, It would appear form the evidence studied that the film was not completely accurate or truthful. This essay will review the evidence studied and prove or disapprove this view.


The film is split up into three sections; Preparations for battle, morning of the attack and after the attack. The film shows pictures of happy soldiers with enough food and supplies, it then shows pictures of the huge British howitzers. The film then goes on to describe the tactics of the British troops and says how succeeded, destroying German trenches. In the final section, it describes how the sick were cared for quick and efficiently and shows the British troops treating their German hostages with respect. The message the film portrays is that war is not as horrific as people consider it to be. The film also gives the impression that Britain would win relatively easily because of their superior equipment.


‘The Battle of Somme’ cannot be viewed as totally trustworthy for numerous reasons. Firstly, It was produced by the government had a strict purpose in mind when they made the film. So the truth was not that important factor for the government, they wanted to make the film fit in with their agenda. Also its suspicious that, so many successes were mentioned within the film, but this disagreed totally with many battle reports from army generals that the British were struggling to make ground and losing men at an alarming rate. In some of the pictures taken during the film it is hard to see how the cameramen manages to get his equipment ready so quickly, or why he is not shot at. It all points towards the fact that some of the film was likely to have been staged.


The way the film portrays the British army’s equipment and supplies is supported by many of the sources. Articles from Newspapers strongly support the film’s views. For example, one article says ‘The British bombarded the Germans with strong weapons, destroying trenches’. Photographs also support the film’s claims with many pictures of huge ammunition stores. Letters in addition support the film, with letters home saying things like, ‘ We ate a huge breakfast with bacon and eggs.’ and generally saying how the conditions were not unbearable and actually quite fine. However, some sources challenge the films views. Diaries generally disagree with the film with some soldiers saying in their diaries, ‘Food was often stolen from us and we went hungry for days on end’. Cartoons in magazines also disagree with the government with many captions of hungry British soldiers. Overall the evidence suggests that the film provides a relatively realistic overview of the British’s equipment and supplies. This is because although more sources support the government’s claims, those sources that support the film (newspapers, photographs and letters) goes though government censorship, so the government to support their own claims might have edited them. The sources that don’t go through censorship (diaries and carton) disagree with what the film states.


The way the film depicts trench conditions is supported by some of the sources. Newspapers mention no discomforts within the trenches, so they are therefore saying conditions are bearable. Also photographs support the film in some ways, with some pictures of happy soldiers sharing jokes in what looks like good conditions. However, many sources disagree with the film. A vast majority of the soldier’s diaries say how poor trench conditions are. For example one soldiers diary said, ‘the trenches are unbearable, the mud is knee deep and corpses are everywhere.’ What\'s more soldiers in interviews frequently commented on how poor conditions were. Surprisingly, Letters also disagree with the government’s film, for example one letter home said, ‘ the conditions in the trenches are getting worse daily, the mud is getting deeper and the corpses smell is