Images of War : Great Push on the Somme 1916
It was too good an opportunity to miss for many officers in the British Army when, in 1914 and 1915, they sailed across the Channel with the BEF they took their cameras with them to record the historic events unfolding in Europe. Soon photographs of British soldiers in the trenches began to appear in newspapers and magazines throughout this country. The War Office decided it had to be stopped far too much information presented on a plate to the enemy.
Official cameramen only would take the images the nation thirsted for, thus control would be firmly with the authority conducting the war. Otherwise, illicit cameras were banned. This action coincided with the Allies' planned offensive against the German areas of occupation of France. In 1916 Sir Douglas Haig, commanding the BEF, began his great offensive to drive the invaders off the ground they had been occupying for over a year and a half. The 'Great Push' as the offensive was advertised to the nation, began 1 July 1916. A glossy picture magazine was produced to inform the British public of the progress of the offensive. Over a four months period until the Battle of the Somme faded away in November the magazine appeared with the following advertising blurb:
'Sir Douglas Haig's Great Push; The Battle of the Somme; A popular, pictorial and authoritative work on one of the Greatest Battles in History, illustrated by about 700 wonderful Official Photographs and Cinematograph Films; By Arrangement With the War Office; beautifully printed on the Best English Art Paper.'
As is well known, the Great Push turned out to be little more than a nudge, but, for the sake of national morale, the British public had to be encouraged to believe that all was going well; especially in view of the horrific casualties wrecking the lives of families throughout the land.
The Great Push, in the form of Images of War, helps capture the propaganda thrust of the times and presents once more the illustrations of those bewildering days along with an ID number for easy reference.