From July to November 1916, one of the bloodiest battles, not just in the First World War, but in human history took place. For many, the Battle of the Somme truly symbolised the horrors of the Great War. The terrifying and brutal nature of trench warfare, the stalemate and tactics of attrition and death rates far beyond our comprehension today are all associated with the Somme. Over the course of the five months, over 400,000 men would be wounded or killed in the wet, muddy and disease ridden trenches of the Western Front.
The British were led by the now infamous and controversial figure of General Sir Douglas Haig who had previous military experience in Africa where he rose to prominence in the Sudan in 1898. Alongside him was…
Source: The Somme | GM 1914
Somme Mud by E.P.F. Lynch
‘It’s the end of the 1916 winter and the conditions are almost unbelievable. We live in a world of Somme mud. We sleep in it, work in it, fight in it, wade in it and many of us die in it. We see it, feel it, eat it and curse it, but we can’t escape it, not even by dying.’
These photographs of Dublin were taken on the 11th of May, 1916. They show ruins in Dublin after the Easter Rising of 24-29 April. The Easter Rising was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland.…
Source: On this day: Dublin in ruins
Three young rebels of Easter, 1916
As we mark the centenary of The Easter Rising, a recent article by Olivia O’Leary for The Guardian lead me to consider the involvement of women in the conflict, and on the involvement of the …
Source: “Dress suitably in short skirts … and buy a revolver”: The role of women in The Easter Rising of 1916
Charlie Weston, freedom fighter
A man I have known for a long time was surprised to see me at a press conference recently for the launch of a report on life in Ireland in 1916. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) had put together a fascinating databank laying bare the low life expectancy, the grinding poverty and the chronic overcrowding of 100 years ago.
The figures were so stark that statistician Helen Cahill admitted at the press conference that she was in tears compiling the report, such was the deprivation back then. But my friend was puzzled to see me at the launch of ‘Life in 1916 Ireland: Stories from Statistics’.
“With a name like Weston, you guys must have been on the British side?,” he suggested, only half joking.On the contrary, I replied, there were…
Source: A Family at War | historywithatwist
Demolition of 27 North Earl Street
“An elderly man stands utterly bewildered. Before him, his business and home are smouldering, black smoke billows from the skeletal remains and an acrid smell pervades the April air. Beside him, his wife and daughters stand, staring in horror. They have lost everything. All that remains of their home is a gable wall with fireplaces hanging grotesquely in mid-air. All is dust. Black and twisted remnants of their lives are the only signs that they had ever lived there. Too traumatised to even cry, they stand, silent and uncomprehending.”
The family referred to above is mine, the gentleman my great-grandfather. Easter week 1916 claimed his business and…
Source: Easter 1916 – Victorian Treasures
The Battle of Verdun is one of the costliest battles in history. It exemplified the policy of a ‘war of attrition’ pursued by both sides, which led to an enormous loss of life. The battle lasted from February 21st 1916 to December 16th in 1916. This was the longest single battle of World War One. The casualties from Verdun and the impact the battle had on the French Army was a primary reason for the British starting the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 in an effort to take German pressure off of the French at Verdun.
The attack on Verdun came about due to the plan of the German Chief of General Staff, von Falkenhayn. He wanted to ‘bleed France white’ by launching a massive German attack on the narrow stretch of land surrounding Verdun that had historical sentiment for the French. This area around Verdun contained twenty major forts and forty smaller ones that had protected the eastern border of France in the past and had been modernised in the early years of the Twentieth Century. Falkenhayn believed that the French simply could not allow…
Source: The Battle of Verdun 1916 | W.U Hstry
Members of The Squad (from left) Mick McDonnell, Liam Tobin, Vinny Byrne, Paddy Daly and Jim Slattery
Right now, Ireland is gearing up to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Events will be held throughout the country to mark the moment when a brave few hundred stood up against the British Empire and sowed the seeds of a nationwide rebellion that would come to fruition just a few years later in the Irish War of Independence . . . at least that’s one narrative doing the rounds. Another narrative berates the irresponsibility of the rebels and the destruction their actions brought upon the country.
Whichever version you choose, rest assured that there will be much basking in a green national glow. The 1916 Rising was pivotal, as was the War of Independence. Both are momentous occasions in the history of this State. However, there is one other huge moment when arms were taken up to fight for a cause . . .Ireland’s Civil War, which ran from June 1922 to May of 1923.
It was 11 months of bloody struggle in which atrocities occurred far worse than…
Source: Ireland’s Dirty War… | historywithatwist
Originally posted on The History Girls.
Another WW1 story you might not have heard, that of Eugene Bullard, a young black man who found freedom and respect far from his homeland. I’d never heard of him until recently and found there are heaps of parallels between his life and that of Mathew Henson, a hero abroad but ignored in his native land. Bullard became the first ever black military pilot in 1916 and won the Croix de Guerre, but ended his life working as a lift operator in the Rockefeller Center.
Eugene Bullard stowed away on a ship and ended up in Aberdeen. He said he witnessed his father’s narrow escape from a lynching. He made his way to Glasgow and worked there for a while. Life outside segregated America held a whole load more opportunities for a young black man and he settled in Paris in 1913 and worked as a prize-fighter and sometimes…
via The History Girls: Eugene Bullard, Black Swallow of Death Catherine Johnson.