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: 1 July 1916

“There was one Dominion force fighting on the Somme on July 1, the 1st Battalion, Newfoundland Regiment, which formed part of the second wave of attackers against the village of Beaumont-Hamel. … Of the 810 Newfoundlanders in action that morning, 310 were killed and more than 350 wounded. Only 68 escaped serious injury. … The regiment was the only one in the First World War to be given the designation Royal – in recognition of its wartime contribution to the Allied cause.”

Somme, The Heroism and Horror of War

Note: Because of its losses on the Somme, July 1 is designated as Memorial Day in Newfoundland, and its university was named Memorial University.

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