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Britain's Great War

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by monic1511 (U1768751) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Jeremy Paxman traces the story of the dramatic early stages of the war, from stunned disbelief to the mass recruitment of volunteer soldiers.

    Fear of invasion grips the country, Boy Scouts guard bridges, and spies are suspected everywhere. For the first time, British civilians are fired on by enemy ships and bombed from the air. Paxman meets a 105-year-old eyewitness to the shelling of Hartlepool, who describes how she thought the Germans had landed.

    Total war has come to Britain.
    www.bbc.co.uk/progra...

    While this is great history it gives me the shivers to see all the recruiting offices with thousands of volunteers - hindsight might be great but it does colour how we see the war & those who served.

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  • Message 2

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The archive footage is very good and we were shown a wide selection of recruitment posters.

    Very good so far.

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  • Message 3

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    Posted by Fishinghellfly (U9173430) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Nifty work by Paxo.

    One duff note though. It wasn't a good idea to shoot Paxo's location bits during winter with snow on the ground. The war began, of course, at the height of summer. It seems a bit peculiar.

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  • Message 4

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    I noticed that the much used image of a soldier carrying a comrade along a trench was used. I am sure I read recently that this image is actually from a FILM rather than recorded on a battle field during the conflict.

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  • Message 5

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    Posted by monic1511 (U1768751) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Hi Bidie
    re I am sure I read recently that this image is actually from a FILM - that comment was made when there was an article about war photographs, it was stated that technically the image was not a photograph but a film, I don't think it is actors but that the image is taken from a film.

    Monic

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  • Message 6

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Ah - that would make more sense, monic. I think I read it in the BBC History magazine last month - must double check.

    A good start to the series with a solid look at life 'on the home front' as well as on the battlefields. It was unthinkable to drop bombs from the sky on to civilian areas - but German high command okay-ed it, although I understand that a lot of German pilots were horrified.

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  • Message 7

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    Posted by Rosemary (U7231409) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    I enjoyed that very much. Well presented, I learned things I hadn't known, and the archive film, quite a lot of which I hadn't seen before, was fascinating. Hope the rest will be just as good. smiley - ok

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  • Message 8

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    Posted by LadyGisbourne (U6086250) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Fantastic programme which concentrated on the effect on communities across the UK . Paxman is a brilliant presenter ....very measured and easy to follow without patronising the viewer or resorting to gimmicks.
    This is what i pay my licence fee for!

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  • Message 9

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    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    I really dislike it when history documentaries are fronted by people who are not historians, because they end up making errors of omission and commission.

    Error of omission - when lauding the virtues of Kitchener, you also need to balance them by remembering the brutal scorched-earth policies and creation of concentration camps by Kitchener during the Boer War at the turn of the century, because the Boers certainly didn't recognise that glowing tribute to Kitchener.

    Error of commission - Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. That's the kind of glaring error the likes of Simon Schama and Michael Wood would not make. All historians, for example, know about Philip of France's invasion of King John's England at the start of the 13th century:

    www.historyextra.com...

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production.

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  • Message 10

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    Posted by Guv-nor (U7476305) ** on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The film youtu.be/krT1lX_Dvm0... (should start just before caption)

    The still from which is described by The Imperial War Museum thus:

    Still from the British film "The Battle of the Somme". The image is part of a sequence introduced by a caption reading "British Tommies rescuing a comrade under shell fire. (This man died 30 minutes after reaching the trenches)". The scene is generally accepted as having been filmed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. This image, and the film sequence from which it is derived, has been widely published to evoke the experience of trench warfare, the heroism and suffering of the ordinary soldier, and the huge casualties sustained by the British Army during the initial assault on German lines. In spite of considerable research, the identity of the rescuer remains unconfirmed. The casualty appears to be wearing the shoulder flash of 29th Division.
    Source of text: www.iwm.org.uk/colle...

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  • Message 11

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    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The BBC and the OU work very well together and once again in this documentary they have created a well measured and dignified tone for the start of the BBC's 4 year long commemoration.

    It was simply told and provided an alternative view of the war away from the trenches. In that respect it reminded me very strongly of the Salford Imperial War Museum where the emphasis is on "ordinary" people's recollections of war.

    Well done BBC/OU and well done Paxman smiley - ok

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  • Message 12

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    Posted by Onslow The Cat (U13672446) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    But not Dan Snow as that will come across as nepotism?

    smiley - blackcat

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  • Message 13

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    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The Battle of the Somme film mixes real film of events before and after the battle with recreated action sequences since it was not possible to film actual battle scenes.

    It's a bit like the ww2 films made by the Russians which often mix actual and staged events

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by LadyAlice (U2796582) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Fascinating programme - I thought I knew a lot about WWI but a great deal of this was new to me. Looking forward to the rest of it.

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  • Message 15

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    Posted by roly (U14145119) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    From this first program have high hopes for the rest of the series. Jeremy is very good. One question at the beginning of the program they once again showed a brave man carrying his injured colleague along a trench. Did anyone ever identify this man?

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  • Message 16

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    Posted by Guv-nor (U7476305) ** on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The Battle of the Somme film mixes real film of events before and after the battle with recreated action sequences since it was not possible to film actual battle scenes.  Of which The Imperial War Museum says.
    "The scene is generally accepted as having been filmed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916."

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  • Message 17

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    Posted by Hanger Lane (U15942806) ** on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. 

    He did not say that. What he said was "it was the first major attack on Britain since 1066". No mention of an invasion (apart from the fact that the locals THOUGHT that the Germans were invading).

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  • Message 18

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    Posted by Oncaterius (U15849651) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. 

    He did not say that. What he said was "it was the first major attack on Britain since 1066". No mention of an invasion (apart from the fact that the locals THOUGHT that the Germans were invading). 
    It rather depends on how you're defining "major attack" if based on British casualties only then Paxman is probably right. If based on British ground taken by the enemy then he is wrong, that would be: en.wikipedia.org/wik....

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  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    The Battle of the Somme film mixes real film of events before and after the battle with recreated action sequences since it was not possible to film actual battle scenes.  Of which The Imperial War Museum says.
    "The scene is generally accepted as having been filmed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916." 
    The Battle of the Somme was shown to audiences across the country and while there were staged action sequences, there were also scenes where both German and British dead were shown.

    Even today, the BBC and other British news channels would not show British dead on a field of battle.

    Which indicates what a powerful and thought provoking film this would have been

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  • Message 20

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    Posted by TIM539 (U1165571) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays.

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  • Message 21

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    Posted by hollybeau (U13700692) on Monday, 27th January 2014

    Why when I look to download this from search on catchup, it's there but it tells me no results were found when I press select.smiley - doh

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  • Message 22

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    Posted by laughinsam (U11244950) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays. 
    Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes is married to Emma Joy Kitchener the great grand niece of Field Marshall Herbert Horatio Kitchener.

    So I suppose they thought him to be worthy of a "talking head" contribution due to this tenuous link.

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  • Message 23

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    Posted by cosmicJetson (U3163660) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays. 
    He was billed as Julian Kitchener-Fellowes so thought maybe he was a distant relation. But a quick search has shown that he's married to a descendant of Lord Kitchener and the family use the double-barrelled (he's a bit miffed that his wife couldn't inherit the title apparently, which is now defunct through lack of male heirs).

    Enjoyed the programme very much and looking forward to more.

    B/W
    CJ

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  • Message 24

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays. 
    Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes is married to Emma Joy Kitchener the great grand niece of Field Marshall Herbert Horatio Kitchener.

    So I suppose they thought him to be worthy of a "talking head" contribution due to this tenuous link. 
    Might have made more sense to talk to HER then.....

    The two elderly ladies who took part - the 105 year old who heard she shelling and the niece of the 2 sons of the farmer who were among the early casualties, both made excellent contributions.

    The run on the banks was interesting - never heard of that before.

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  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 24.

    Posted by laughinsam (U11244950) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I was a bit disappointed that the causes of the war weren't explored in more detail. I have to admit that despite watching various other similar programmes I'm still a little confused by the political machinations that led to the conflict.

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  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by Colin (U5740997) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I really dislike it when history documentaries are fronted by people who are not historians, because they end up making errors of omission and commission.

    Error of omission - when lauding the virtues of Kitchener, you also need to balance them by remembering the brutal scorched-earth policies and creation of concentration camps by Kitchener during the Boer War at the turn of the century, because the Boers certainly didn't recognise that glowing tribute to Kitchener.

    Error of commission - Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. That's the kind of glaring error the likes of Simon Schama and Michael Wood would not make. All historians, for example, know about Philip of France's invasion of King John's England at the start of the 13th century:

    www.historyextra.com...

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 
    Yet again the myth that Britain invented concentration camps gets an airing. In fact they were first created by the Spanish during their attempt to put down an insurrection in Cuba between 1895 and 1898 (2nd Boer War began in 1899). The were called reconcentrados and it is estimated that they killed between 100,000 and 300,000 people with the camp in Havana being responsible for 50,000 deaths.
    Some aspects British conduct in the Boer War is nothing to be proud of but the claim we invented concentration camps as trotted out by foreigners and British people who love knocking the UK is wrong.
    The existence of the camps was cited as one of the causes of the Spanish-American War (1898-1901) with the U.S.. rushing to the aid of the oppressed Cubans. Perhaps the final irony is that a treaty which arose after the war lead to America leasing Guantanamo Bay.

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  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by laughinsam (U11244950) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I really dislike it when history documentaries are fronted by people who are not historians, because they end up making errors of omission and commission.

    Error of omission - when lauding the virtues of Kitchener, you also need to balance them by remembering the brutal scorched-earth policies and creation of concentration camps by Kitchener during the Boer War at the turn of the century, because the Boers certainly didn't recognise that glowing tribute to Kitchener.

    Error of commission - Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. That's the kind of glaring error the likes of Simon Schama and Michael Wood would not make. All historians, for example, know about Philip of France's invasion of King John's England at the start of the 13th century:

    www.historyextra.com...

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 
    Yet again the myth that Britain invented concentration camps gets an airing. In fact they were first created by the Spanish during their attempt to put down an insurrection in Cuba between 1895 and 1898 (2nd Boer War began in 1899). The were called reconcentrados and it is estimated that they killed between 100,000 and 300,000 people with the camp in Havana being responsible for 50,000 deaths.
    Some aspects British conduct in the Boer War is nothing to be proud of but the claim we invented concentration camps as trotted out by foreigners and British people who love knocking the UK is wrong.
    The existence of the camps was cited as one of the causes of the Spanish-American War (1898-1901) with the U.S.. rushing to the aid of the oppressed Cubans. Perhaps the final irony is that a treaty which arose after the war lead to America leasing Guantanamo Bay. 
    It could be argued that the Americans were the first to employ concentration camps during the Civil War (1861-65). Andersonville being the most imfamous where almost 13,000 died in the most appalling conditions.

    www.ihr.org/jhr/v02/...

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  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by Andy M (U14519385) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays. 
    He was billed as Julian Kitchener-Fellowes so thought maybe he was a distant relation. But a quick search has shown that he's married to a descendant of Lord Kitchener and the family use the double-barrelled (he's a bit miffed that his wife couldn't inherit the title apparently, which is now defunct through lack of male heirs).

    Enjoyed the programme very much and looking forward to more.

    B/W
    CJ 
    Says it all really.............

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  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Andy M (U14519385) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Enjoyable and informative first episode although I felt that the inclusion of Julian Fellowes was uneccessary.

    Can we not keep "celebs" out of any programme nowadays. 
    Why to always find talking heads that have little or no connection with the subject in hand I would not be be surprised if the stock BBC talking head Ester Rantzen appears smiley - sadface

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  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by Andy M (U14519385) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    But not Dan Snow as that will come across as nepotism?

    smiley - blackcat 
    The lack of the wonderful down to earth understanding of soldiers of the late Prof Brigadier Richard Holmes leaves a large gap in BBC history programmes.

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  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Annie-Lou est Charlie (U4502268) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Very interesting, I thought Paxo had plenty of gravitas (though he's looking a bit rough, isn't he!) I was also a bit distracted by the snow as I kept thinking it must have been filmed a year ago (it certainly hasn't snowed in Brighton this winter)

    105 year old Violet Muers was the highlight for me, she was great. What a shame she died before it was transmitted.

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  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by Annie-Lou est Charlie (U4502268) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    But not Dan Snow as that will come across as nepotism?

    smiley - blackcat 
    Or they could have Lucy Worlsey dressing up in a cheeky "Tommy" outfit (perhaps with a corset instead of a tunic and some suspenders to hold up the putties) then sitting in mud and getting lice so she can tell us what the experience felt like. smiley - doh

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  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 32.

    Posted by Andy M (U14519385) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    But not Dan Snow as that will come across as nepotism?

    smiley - blackcat 
    Or they could have Lucy Worlsey dressing up in a cheeky "Tommy" outfit (perhaps with a corset instead of a tunic and some suspenders to hold up the putties) then sitting in mud and getting lice so she can tell us what the experience felt like. smiley - doh 
    Deep joy Rolling on the floor smiley - winkeye
    Nice one !

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  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by Colin (U5740997) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I really dislike it when history documentaries are fronted by people who are not historians, because they end up making errors of omission and commission.

    Error of omission - when lauding the virtues of Kitchener, you also need to balance them by remembering the brutal scorched-earth policies and creation of concentration camps by Kitchener during the Boer War at the turn of the century, because the Boers certainly didn't recognise that glowing tribute to Kitchener.

    Error of commission - Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. That's the kind of glaring error the likes of Simon Schama and Michael Wood would not make. All historians, for example, know about Philip of France's invasion of King John's England at the start of the 13th century:

    www.historyextra.com...

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 
    Yet again the myth that Britain invented concentration camps gets an airing. In fact they were first created by the Spanish during their attempt to put down an insurrection in Cuba between 1895 and 1898 (2nd Boer War began in 1899). The were called reconcentrados and it is estimated that they killed between 100,000 and 300,000 people with the camp in Havana being responsible for 50,000 deaths.
    Some aspects British conduct in the Boer War is nothing to be proud of but the claim we invented concentration camps as trotted out by foreigners and British people who love knocking the UK is wrong.
    The existence of the camps was cited as one of the causes of the Spanish-American War (1898-1901) with the U.S.. rushing to the aid of the oppressed Cubans. Perhaps the final irony is that a treaty which arose after the war lead to America leasing Guantanamo Bay. 
    It could be argued that the Americans were the first to employ concentration camps during the Civil War (1861-65). Andersonville being the most imfamous where almost 13,000 died in the most appalling conditions.

    www.ihr.org/jhr/v02/... 
    I've seen this theory put forward before but Andersonville was what we would now call a Prisoner of War camp. I could be wrong but I don't think any civilians were incarcerated there and it is this element which virtually defines a concentration camp.

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  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by RLamarque (U15992416) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    He killed it for me early on with his statement that Mons was a terrible defeat, followed by a headlong retreat, neither of which is factual and besmirches the reputation of those who fought so hard.

    The BEF stopped the Germans at Mons but had to fall back because the French had done so and exposed their right flank. The retreat was long and exhausting but done in good order, again mainly to keep connected to the French left flank. The BEF fighting ability was in no way impaired as was demonstrated when its second Corps under Smith-Dorrien turned and stopped two German armies in their tracks at Le Cateau.

    The several days delay on the German advance caused by the British Army was crucial in giving the French time to re-group and at the end of the retreat the BEF, reinforced from the Territorial reserves, the Dominions and from its overseas garrisons, joined with the French on the Marne and pushed the Germans back to what became the Western Front.

    He also failed to mention that shortly after the East Coast bombardments Beatty’s Battle Cruiser squadron intercepted the perpetrators and gave them a good pasting, sinking the German battlecruiser SMS Blucher. The Germans got the message and never again came close to our shores.

    I had hoped Mr Paxman might have done some research of his own – let’s hope it gets better.

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  • Message 36

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    Posted by RLamarque (U15992416) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Jeremy Paxman traces the story of the dramatic early stages of the war, from stunned disbelief to the mass recruitment of volunteer soldiers.

    Fear of invasion grips the country, Boy Scouts guard bridges, and spies are suspected everywhere. For the first time, British civilians are fired on by enemy ships and bombed from the air. Paxman meets a 105-year-old eyewitness to the shelling of Hartlepool, who describes how she thought the Germans had landed.

    Total war has come to Britain.
    www.bbc.co.uk/progra...

    While this is great history it gives me the shivers to see all the recruiting offices with thousands of volunteers - hindsight might be great but it does colour how we see the war & those who served. 
    He killed it for me early on with his statement that Mons was a terrible defeat, followed by a headlong retreat, neither of which is factual and besmirches the reputation of those who fought so hard.

    The BEF stopped the Germans at Mons but had to fall back because the French had done so and exposed their right flank. The retreat was long and exhausting but done in good order, again mainly to keep connected to the French left flank. The BEF fighting ability was in no way impaired as was demonstrated when its second Corps under Smith-Dorrien turned and stopped two German armies in their tracks at Le Cateau.

    The several days delay on the German advance caused by the British Army was crucial in giving the French time to re-group and at the end of the retreat the BEF, reinforced from the Territorial reserves, the Dominions and from its overseas garrisons, joined with the French on the Marne and pushed the Germans back to what became the Western Front.

    He also failed to mention that shortly after the East Coast bombardments Beatty’s Battle Cruiser squadron intercepted the perpetrators and gave them a good pasting, sinking the German battlecruiser SMS Blucher. The Germans got the message and never again came close to our shores.

    I had hoped Mr Paxman might have done some research of his own – let’s hope it gets better.

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  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by shytalker (U15033137) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. 

    He did not say that. What he said was "it was the first major attack on Britain since 1066". No mention of an invasion (apart from the fact that the locals THOUGHT that the Germans were invading). 
    That is if you do not count Henry Tudor landing in Milford Haven in 1485,Duke of Monmouth landing at Lyme Regis in 1685 or the "French" invasion at Fishguard in 1797.

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  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by susie-springatlast (U10941938) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I prefer that Jeremy Paxman is presenting this instead of a historian, historians have a tendency to lecture which is not what is required in this case. There will probably be a few contentious issue of the presenting of any programme about the Great War which will spark debate but keep the lecturers out of it they put ordinary people off.
    Didn't Julian Fellows pen Downton Abbey because he was miffed about not his wife not inheriting the title?

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  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by laughinsam (U11244950) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I've seen this theory put forward before but Andersonville was what we would now call a Prisoner of War camp. I could be wrong but I don't think any civilians were incarcerated there and it is this element which virtually defines a concentration camp. 

    I wouldn't disagree that the incarceration of civilians was a pre-requisite for the accepted definition of a concentration camp.

    Having said that the term "concentration" in this context means to concentrate prisoners in a confined area which in the case of the Civil War camps is precisely what they did, whether intentionally or not.

    I believe even the Nazis original intention was only to expel the Jews from it's territories. When they realised that this was unrealistic due to the sheer numbers involved they were forcedly moved into Ghettos and then to Concentration Camps awaiting a solution to the "problem". It was only later that "the final solution" of extermination was adopted.

    The name Concentration Camp is probably too loose a description to cover the many forms of this type of imprisonment.

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  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by ACH41 (U15992442) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I really dislike it when history documentaries are fronted by people who are not historians, because they end up making errors of omission and commission.

    Error of omission - when lauding the virtues of Kitchener, you also need to balance them by remembering the brutal scorched-earth policies and creation of concentration camps by Kitchener during the Boer War at the turn of the century, because the Boers certainly didn't recognise that glowing tribute to Kitchener.

    Error of commission - Paxman erroneously stated that when the Germans attacked Hartlepool, it was the first invasion of British soil since 1066. That's the kind of glaring error the likes of Simon Schama and Michael Wood would not make. All historians, for example, know about Philip of France's invasion of King John's England at the start of the 13th century:

    www.historyextra.com...

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 
    I agree, though what worries me more is the historical analysis which underpins the programme and the failure to place the War in any coherent historical context. Understanding that the purpose was to highlight Britain's involvement, it still seems little less than astonishing that no perspective was given at all on the proximate causes, apart from the Kaiser being left out in the cold in the race for empire and his wish to dominate Europe from the Urals to the Mediterranean.

    Surely some mention of the Balkans would have been helpful and the fact that it was Austria's declaration of war on Serbia that lit the fuse. And why was Britain affected by this? Had its prior commitments to France and Russia anything to do with that?

    What I learned form the presentation was that the war was exclusively caused by the Kaiser and German militarism; that Britain only went to war reluctantly in response to the invasion of Belgium; that the British single-handed held up the Germans at Mons, then retreated until mysteriously they managed to construct a line of trenches from the French coast to Switzerland. One can only guess what the French, Austrians and Russians were doing in the meantime.

    This is even more astonishing given the reaction of Paxman to the Gove/Cameron thesis about the causes and underlying rationale for Britain going to War.

    No, I am not advocating a dry historical account of International Diplomacy and the Making of the Ententes 1871-1914 but I am worried that this programme may seriously damage your understanding about what it was all about

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  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by caissier (U14073060) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    But not Dan Snow as that will come across as nepotism?

    smiley - blackcat 
    Or they could have Lucy Worlsey dressing up in a cheeky "Tommy" outfit (perhaps with a corset instead of a tunic and some suspenders to hold up the putties) then sitting in mud and getting lice so she can tell us what the experience felt like. smiley - doh 
    Deep joy Rolling on the floor smiley - winkeye
    Nice one ! 
    What nice Lucy could do is a rendition of this .... www.youtube.com/watc... ..... and I'd take up the offer .

    Reply to this message 41

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  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 9.

    Posted by DBOne (U14389107) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    Please, BBC, get a historian to present a history programme - otherwise, it comes across as a very amateur production. 

    I would rather have someone who is a professional presenter than an amateur. It is the script and wiring that need to be checked for accuracy and reviewed.

    The programme was 'Britain's Great War' so you would expect the programme to present information from this point of view.

    Reply to this message 42

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  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I agree, though what worries me more is the historical analysis which underpins the programme and the failure to place the War in any coherent historical context. Understanding that the purpose was to highlight Britain's involvement, it still seems little less than astonishing that no perspective was given at all on the proximate causes, apart from the Kaiser being left out in the cold in the race for empire and his wish to dominate Europe from the Urals to the Mediterranean.

    Surely some mention of the Balkans would have been helpful and the fact that it was Austria's declaration of war on Serbia that lit the fuse. And why was Britain affected by this? Had its prior commitments to France and Russia anything to do with that?

    What I learned form the presentation was that the war was exclusively caused by the Kaiser and German militarism; that Britain only went to war reluctantly in response to the invasion of Belgium; that the British single-handed held up the Germans at Mons, then retreated until mysteriously they managed to construct a line of trenches from the French coast to Switzerland. One can only guess what the French, Austrians and Russians were doing in the meantime.

    This is even more astonishing given the reaction of Paxman to the Gove/Cameron thesis about the causes and underlying rationale for Britain going to War.

    No, I am not advocating a dry historical account of International Diplomacy and the Making of the Ententes 1871-1914 but I am worried that this programme may seriously damage your understanding about what it was all about 
    Agree with every word.

    I understand that Paxman was trying to make a different programme about the Great War here, focusing on its impact on people rather than politics; but it left too may questions hanging in the air, and worse, misled the viewer into 'buying' a false version of the facts. And since I thought part of the reasoning behind this huge BBC WW1 season was to inform the younger generations about it, this was a bit of a miss opportunity, I thought.

    Still, very good in every other respect; the archive material (video footage and posters) was amazing, and combined with the interviews really immersed you in the climate of the time.

    Will definitely watch the rest of the series with interest.

    Reply to this message 43

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  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by fortrosian (U2001738) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    I was gripped by this, felt that I was learning something new from it, and it started from the failed diplomacy in the beginning, rather than just concentrating on the fighting from the word go.

    Critisism of Jeremy Paxman for omissions because he isn't a historian, should maybe be directed to the researchers, or whoever commissioned the programme, as although he may have a great interest in the subject and wanted to do it, I don't think he was putting himself forward as an expert on the subject.

    Particularly liked the interviews with families and eyewitnesses. Quite often you don't get the stories told from the civilians point of view. And I hadnt heard about the rumours that circulated at the time, nor the execution of the overly polite Russian spy. I don't know how I thought that the executions would have taken place, but I was suprised it was by firing squad.

    All in all, very interesting.

    I too like Lucy Worsley, if they do the same kind of thing for WWII can we have Paxo doing the battlefield stuff, and then cut to Lucy doing the Home Front stuff? That would make a great programme (you can have that idea on me, but I demand a credit!)

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  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by DBOne (U14389107) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    No, I am not advocating a dry historical account of International Diplomacy and the Making of the Ententes 1871-1914 but I am worried that this programme may seriously damage your understanding about what it was all about 

    This is just one programme - the BBC have got lots more to come - maybe 'The World's War' presented by David Olusoga may give you what you what.

    www.bbc.co.uk/mediac...

    Reply to this message 45

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  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 43.

    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    And since I thought part of the reasoning behind this huge BBC WW1 season was to inform the younger generations about it, this was a bit of a miss opportunity, I thought. 

    '*missed* opportunity', Miss Opportunity is Sandra Bullock's next film smiley - winkeye

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  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by caissier (U14073060) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    As I started to watch this the effect of Paxman's voice cut in like a distant circular saw. He's the one who shouts impatiently at young people on University Challenge, bellowed at Alex Crawford - on site with desperate refugees - "Whadareyou .... A SOCIAL WORKER?!" .... sneers and dismisses interviewees, thinks repeating a question twenty times is a good trick ...... verbally beat up Chloe Smith ..... bored on on Who Do You Think You Are, and in public utterances of his personal views hardly inspires confidence, yet can also glow genially in sucking up to the powerful. I don't want this unempathetic hack karaoke historian-foghorn telling me about the tragedy and national nightmare of the first world war.

    A better man would have been the great and good Richard Holmes . Fortunately he made this in 1999 - before the BBC went rather a lot to the desperate and was still making its own programmes.

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    www.youtube.com/watc...

    I suppose we'll have David Dimbleby giving us an airy sketch of the Battle of Jutland, bobbing around on the sunny waters of the eastern North Sea, because he's got a yacht.

    Reply to this message 47

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  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 45.

    Posted by ACH41 (U15992442) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    No, I am not advocating a dry historical account of International Diplomacy and the Making of the Ententes 1871-1914 but I am worried that this programme may seriously damage your understanding about what it was all about 

    This is just one programme - the BBC have got lots more to come - maybe 'The World's War' presented by David Olusoga may give you what you what.

    www.bbc.co.uk/mediac... 
    Good news. Let us hope then that its not too long before somebody mentions the Marne and that the British occupied at most a third of the trench line. Possibly Verdun might get a word or two en passant as well as Ypres, the Somme and Passchendaele. And of course there are also a few other places which could be touched on and which were lastingly affected affected by the outcome such as the Middle East and Africa.

    But even more important is that the message gets across that the Great War marks (arguably as always) the watershed between a relatively stable world order and the 20th century turmoil. It is a legacy with which we are still struggling.

    True that we have 4 years to come to terms with all this but it is still a pity that for the sake of 2 or 3 minutes of a broader view we are left with the impression that it was indeed solely a British/German affair fought (mainly) for the preservation of liberal democracy (and Empire).

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  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by Annie-Lou est Charlie (U4502268) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    You don't like him then Caiss? smiley - whistle I must admit that I cannot shake the feeling that he is faintly patronising everyone he interviews. Though he is clearly struggling not to come across that way.

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  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 40.

    Posted by Martha (U14407302) on Tuesday, 28th January 2014

    In reply to ACH41: but I am worried that this programme may seriously damage your understanding about what it was all about 

    I'm sorry to read that as I enjoyed the programme very much and thought all that I was watching was fact.

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