Oldham Historical Research Group

'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.'
from 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen


The Battle of the Somme - What does it mean to you?

The Local Studies Library is also keen to have your personal feelings, for evaluation purposes, about the Battle of the Somme; the events, the legacy and how you feel it affected people either as individuals or as a community. Anything you write would be completely anonymous and you can fill in a sheet at the Local Studies Library or send it to us, by email, at Just title it, 'Battle of the Somme - What it means to me'.If your opinions change over the course of the commemorative months you can fill in another one!
23rd January 2016
"What is clear to me is that the Battle of the Somme took the settling of conflicts to a new place in terms of timescale and horror. It is very difficult for us, a hundred years on, to view this history as a foolish mistake to be blamed on old generals finding it difficult to get to grips with with the type of warfare they now found themselves in with the result of mass slaughter of the youth of the time, giving the old saying 'Lions led by Donkeys' bantered around years later.
If we could replay history we would have certainly configured events differently, but alas this is not within our scope of possibility, so now we try to make sense of it as best we can, recognising that judgements and understanding will always be partial and confused.
Most of us struggle with the implications of war be it the Somme or elsewhere and we are happy to devolve much of the responsibility to others, both for decisions and conduct. This is as true today as it was 100 years ago. My grandfather, in the K.O.S.B. was wounded a couple of weeks before the Somme offensive and taken prisoner. I doubt I would be here now, looking at the odds, as the K.O.S.B. was in the thick of it two weeks later in July.
20th April 2016
" My grandfather fought on the Somme but thankfully he returned. Unfortunately he was gassed resulting in damaged lungs.

I am visiting the Somme this year as it is the centenary of the battles. I just feel I would like to learn more about what he went through and to see the graves of all those men who gave their lives so we could be free.

Thank you."

13th January 2016
"A major battle in the First World War that cost a lot of lives. The imagery that I have seen is of muddy land with craters made from all the bombing. The land and trees were destroyed. The Somme is an example of the meaningless of war, bombing and killing of people."
20th January 2016
"If we know anything at all about WW1 it is that the Battle of the Somme has gone down in history as having taken so many hundreds of thousands of lives needlessly; that our perception of the generals, and in particular Haig, is that they were without compassion for the dead, the wounded and the widows with children left at home; that they considered the troops expendable.
There have been many attempts to justify the slaughter and deny the callous indifference to suffering ... but can the end ever justify the means?"

Project menu button

link to home page
WW1 menu page
WW1 links page