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The Somme: Over the Top

Soldiers who witnessed and took part in the first day of the Battle of the Somme give their accounts of it in recordings drawn from the IWM and BBC sound archives.

The final programme in this instalment of Voices of the First World War focuses on the first catastrophic ten minutes of the Battle of the Somme, with men recalling the orders they were given, the reality on the ground as it became clear the German wire hadn't been cut by the British bombardment and their memory of those around them being mown down by machine gun fire as they attempted to cross No Man's Land. Dan Snow brings together first hand accounts drawn from the sound archives of the IWM and the BBC, some vivid and detailed and others clearly clouded by the trauma of their experience and the intervening years, to reveal the devastation on the battlefield, and surviving soldiers' feelings about the heavy losses suffered by the British by the end of the day on 1st July.

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15 minutes