Today marks 104 years since the start of the Battle of the Somme. Here are seven quotes and poems to help you commemorate such a historic day.
The Battle of the Somme started on the 1st July 1916, and was a joint operation between French and British allied forces to achieve victory over the Germans on the Western Front.
More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it not only the bloodiest battle of World War One but in human history. It was named so because it took place on both sides of the River Somme in France.
Here are seven famous quotes and poems to help you commemorate the start of the famous battle.
‘For the Fallen’ poem by Robert Laurence Binyon
Perhaps the most famous poem that is often quoted by people when remembering the Battle of the Somme is ‘For The Fallen’, but most people just remember it for the famous line: ‘At the going down of the sun”.
The famous verse goes like this:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Quote from a German Soldier
This quote comes from an unnamed German Soldier during the Battle of the Somme:
“The tragedy of the Somme battle was that the best soldiers, the stoutest-hearted men were lost; their numbers were replaceable, their spiritual worth never could be.”
‘On Somme’ poem by Ivor Gurney
Another famous Somme poem is ‘On Somme’ by Ivor Gurney, an accomplished musician, composer and poet who is known so have written hundreds of poems and songs throughout the war.
Many people often wrote his famous poem which starts like this:
Suddenly into the still air burst thudding
And thudding, and cold fear possessed me all,
On the gray slopes there, where Winter in sullen brooding
Hung between height and depth of ugly fall
Quote by A.D. Gristwood
A.D. Gristwood is an author who wrote the famous novel ‘The Coward’, published in 1927 and based around The Somme.
“Before the world grew mad, the Somme was a placid stream of Picardy, flowing gently through a broad and winding valley northwards to the English Channel. It watered a country of simple beauty. . . Then came the pestilence.”
Quote by A.P. Herbert
Alan Patrick Herbert was an English humorist, novelist, playwright and law reform activist as well as an Independent Member of Parliament for Oxford University. He famously said:
“Every Englishman has a picture of the Somme in his mind, and I will not try to enlarge it.”
‘I have a rendezvous with Death’ poem by Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger is an American poet who volunteered to fight for the French Foreign Legion in 1914 and died at the Battle of the Somme.
The first verse goes like this:
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air
Quote by Harry Leedham
“It seemed all over, hardly 20 minutes from the start. It was a strong point and still was, even with reinforcements it would be hopeless, with those sodding machine guns still in action. Behind we could see where we started from, in front, the Jerry lines on slightly rising ground.”
He then continues: “We could see the shape of the Quadrilateral, like a squashed diamond, behind the bank. Judging by the damned chatter when we were going over, a hidden machine gun at every point. Quiet enough now, they had already done all the damage, not giving their position away now, leaving the Jerries in the line to do the odd firing.”