First World War Collection

Sir Martin writes:

Two very different wars were fought between 1914 and 1918. The first was a war of soldiers, sailors and airmen, of merchant seamen and civilian populations under occupation, where individual suffering and distress were on a massive scale, particularly in the front-line trenches. The second was a war of War Cabinets and sovereigns, of propagandists and idealists, replete with political and territorial ambitions and ideals, determining the future of Empires, nations and peoples as sharply as the battlefield.

Sir Martin on the battle field of Ypres with his assistant,1969
Sir Martin on the battle field of Ypres with his assistant,1969

There were times, particularly in 1917 and 1918, when the war of armies and the war of ideologies combined, leading to revolution and capitulation, and to the emergence of new national and political forces. The war changed the map and destiny of Europe as much as it seared its skin and scarred its soul.

On This Day: 11 November 1918, the First World War ended.

“… the German government signed an armistice and the guns fell silent.” On the Somme, “The Big Push had failed to achieve its initial and most ambitious aim: a breakthrough that could be exploited by cavalry …. It did succeed in its crucial secondary aim: to break the intensity of the German attack on Verdun, and give the French forces embattled there a breathing space to recover their strength. It also prevented the Germans from transferring troops to where they were badly needed on the Russian and Romanian Fronts.”

The Somme


Read more about Sir Martin’s inspiration and interest in world war history, his blogs, films and book talks: Sir Martin & The First & Second World Wars