Class 4 have been experiencing an insight into the life of soldiers and their families during the Great War 1914-1918
The Battle of the Somme started in July 1st 1916. It lasted until November 1916. For many people, the Battle of the Somme was the battle that symbolised the horrors of warfare in World War One; this one battle had a marked effect on overall casualty figures and seemed to epitomise the futility of trench warfare.
After visiting the Military Keep at Dorchester...............
We went to Maiden Castle where we re- enacted the Battle of the Somme......
We wrote diary entries to reflect our experience............
Thomas's diary entry.....
“Dear Diary: I woke up this morning with a startle. For a minute I had forgotten about the War, the guns and the killing. But suddenly there was a bang! I realized the Germans were bombing us. When I joined this army I felt proud, bold, excited and determined to right for my country. I had joined because I was told it would be fun, but it’s really not. The German bombing cost many lives. But it’s still another day. We have a shortage of food, ammo, water … and my best mate died from eating a rat that carried a disease.
“The Corporal told us that in one hour we’re going to bomb the German trenches non-stop for a whole week. Then we will go through No Man’s Land and attack. They will all be dead, so the job will be dead easy.
“Dear Diary: there is only one more day of bombing to go, but after all the noise I have had no sleep. I did receive a letter from home, and I am relieved, though, to know my family is okay. My brother told me how his turtle died. He said he had to write as my mother fell and broke her wrist, though she’s alright. It made me cry tears of joy to hear about such normal things.
“Dear Diary: Today is the day. We are going to attack. We are going to stop bombing in a few minutes and I’m ready to go. I’m nervous, but if they are all dead, why should I be? But in the night the sentry said that when the guns were reloading he would keep seeing someone pop a head up and duck down. I hope he was just trying to scare us.
“I wonder whether I will ever write this diary again? Jacob Staple signing out.”
Finlay's diary entry........
“Dear Diary: Two days before the Battle. Today I woke up to the miserable sound of the shells going off near the German front lines. It was a thunderous sound. That is why my mate next to me, Private John Jones, clung to me as if he had shell shock. So if I had a headache, he had one a million times worse. I was a lonely old wreck even with my old friend John. I should really explain what is happening. I can’t get to sleep with all the noise going on, with all the shells exploding around me. I felt it doubtful that we could ever win this war.
“Dear Diary: There is only one word to explain what I feel one day before the Battle: Frightened. I got in trouble with my higher ranking officer because I had assaulted one of my fellow soldiers. I just saw something run past my door. I went out only to find it was a rat, missing its tail. Maybe that will be dinner for us later.
“Dear Diary: This is the day of the Battle. I think it has got more freezing down here than it ever has been. The Battle is getting close now, I can feel a tingle go through my spine. I just heard the command, ‘Fix bayonets’! Then the realization hit me that I might die in this. I will write just this, ‘Goodbye diary’, as the dreaded whistle is about to blow…”