Mud, blood and misconception, Damien Fenton

First Day of the Somme: The Complete Account of Britain’s Worst-ever Military Disaster 
Andrew Macdonald,
HarperCollins, $40.00,
ISBN 9781775540403

Experience of a Lifetime: People, Personalities and Leaders in the First World War 
John Crawford, David Littlewood and James Watson (eds)
Massey University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780994130013

1 July 2016 marked the centenary of the beginning of the (First) Battle of the Somme. (There was a Second Battle of the Somme in late 1918, but that was a comprehensive Allied victory which is completely at odds with the war poet/Blackadder view of WWI and, as such, is therefore usually completely ignored in popular Anglocentric accounts of the conflict today.) The First was one of the bloodiest battles of attrition fought on the Western Front during WWI. The date is also infamous for being the bloodiest day in the history of the British army. Attacking British forces suffered 57,470 casualties (including 19,240 dead) and failed either to take or hold most of their intended first-day objectives.


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