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Walking the Western Front - Somme, Part 1 (DVD)

Colour Books Military DVDs > WWI WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Somme

By Ed Skelding Productions
Imprint: Pen & Sword Discovery
Running Time: 70 (mins)
ISBN: 5060247620244
Published: 26th June 2013



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Following on from the success of the two films on Ypres (Slaughter of the Innocents and The Immortal Salient) The Walking the Western Front series turns its attention to the infamous Battle of the Somme, where almost 60,000 British men were either killed, wounded or classed as missing on the first day alone.

Spread across three seventy-minute DVDs, acclaimed film-maker Ed Skelding and eminent military historian Nigel Cave take us on a tour of the Somme battlefields as they exist today and explain the Battle of the Somme in its entirety, from the opening day offensive where thousands of troops lost their lives against a determined German defence to the abandonment of the operation on 18 November with the final failed Battle of the Ancre.

Relying on their combined knowledge of the battlefields, Ed and Nigel revisit famous places relating to the battle including: Delville Wood, High Wood, Fricourt, Mametz, Guillemont and many more to explain the history behind each offensive, as well as the successes and failures of the Allied armies. The pair also visit a selection of war graves, including the Thiepval Memorial to give the viewer an insight into the scale of loss that the allies suffered during the conflict. Accompanied by a selection of original photographs from the period and exclusive money off vouchers for related books from the Pen and Sword catalogue, these DVDs are the perfect companion for fans of the Battleground series and students of the Great War alike.

A companion book on the Somme will be released by Ed Skelding in late 2013, showing the battle through the eyes of a film-maker and will present original black and white photographs of the battlefield and present day pictures to show how the battlefields have changed over the years.

The First Day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, in many ways dominates our popular understanding of the Great War. Eager volunteers walk into machine-gun hell in No Man’s Land with huge losses. But a subject that looks straight forward is far more complex, as a quick read of any book on the 1st July will demonstrate. What can a film on the day tell us?
In contrast to the Mons 1914 DVD I reviewed today, this is a very different film made available by Pen & Sword Digital. It is clear as soon as it starts that this is a film made by someone who understands how television works. It is presented by a professional presenter, which makes a great deal of difference, and the contributors talk well, in a way a general audience will understand. The focus of the film is about the story, with much less about the structure of the army and its units. In this way it presents the material well, with clarity and understanding. The film is well shot and the sound is excellent as well. It will appeal to the WW1 enthusiast of course, but is much more suited to a general public who want to understand more about the First Day of the Battle of the Somme and learn how it may have affected their ancestors.
Highly recommended from me and well worth the £16.99 price.


This DVD narrates the story of that first day by walking the battlefield and telling the stories of individuals and groups of men on that first day. The DVD visits the trench systems, mine craters and cemeteries of the battlefield.

Airfix Model World

This film takes a different approach to the First Day on the Somme... an explanation, instead of a mere description of events. The explanations are clearly given, and fit the facts extremely well. The film will promote a greater understanding of the First Day on the Somme.

Military Modelcraft International

About Ed Skelding Productions

Pen and Sword Digital has teamed up with Ed Skelding Productions to create a small selection of high quality films on the First World War. Presented by well-known historian and acclaimed filmmaker Ed Skelding and with key guests such as Nigel Cave, an experienced historian and series editor for the hugely popular Battleground series of books, these highly knowledgeable films put the viewers in the key locations of battles and make you feel part of the tragic events. Starting with two films on the history of Ypres, three further films will be released in 2012 and 2013 describing the main battles on the Somme.

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