As you watch this impeccably researched 59min DVD, commisioned to mark the 90'th anniversary of the battle, and listen to the actual words of just a few of the men who fought and died in it; it puts the problems we face today into genuine perpective.
The programme centres around a few volunteers of the 2'nd Salford Pals Battalion/16'th Lancashire Fusiliers; as they attacked and were mown down, by their Westphalian opposite numbers in the 180'th Inf Regt, holding the French chateau of Thiepval on 1'st July 1916. It's hard to believe now, but 19,240 British soldiers were killed, with 37,000 wounded; on the first day of a battle which lasted six months!
This programme differs from many others however, in that it documents the entire Somme 'campaign' which continued on until December 1916. It illustrates how the British Army reacted to those losses; permitting use of initiative by junior officers, introducing combined attacks, creeping artillery barrages, first deployment of tanks, and use of aircraft for observation.
Using these radical new tactics, the British Army and their French allies eventually 'won' the battle of the Somme. German pressure on Verdun was reduced as they were forced to replace 500,000 casualties lost on the Somme; which enabled France to hold at Verdun. Total British casualties were 432,000, France lost 'only' 200,000, plus another 543,000 at Verdun!
This programme attempts to justify those losses by explaining how the Generals 'learned' lessons; and by applying those lessons, eventually emerged victorious from World War One. But it is only when we realize these losses were from just one battle amidst many; and that all were highly selective in nature; being fit young men aged 18-35 years; that the true enormity of World War One is revealed.
Europe slaughtered her best and finest sons, literally by the millions, during those terrible years; with social, economic and genetic effects that have never really been put right. I shall conclude this review with the words of Kaiser Wilhelm who, as he signed the declaration of war in 1914 said; "Gentlemen, you will have reason to regret this.". Never were truer words spoken than those.The Somme - From Defeat to Victory [DVD] 
This is a well made and very well researched film. First rate photography and acting. Both sides of the Somme story are told and this makes the viewer think deeply about the impact of not only this battle but the war has a whole. The scenery and make up are excellent and what one would expect from the BBC production team. Uniforms are well researched and contain correct rank and divisional markings. This is a great educational tool and I highly recommend it. If they ask of us this is what you should say, we gave our tomorrow for your today. Watch, learn, think and remember. Richard Longstaff.
I've long had a minor interest in military history and recently decided to do some more reading up on the First World War. As I result I brought this DVD since the Amazon recommendations alluded that it was worth watching, glad to say I wasn't disappointed.
A well made and very informative documentary that covers the Battle of the Somme superbly. The cast acting, although not award winning, was certainly believable and added greatly to the feeling of drama. I'm not an historian so can't speak for the accuracy but assuming it is accurate it's certainly informative. My only real complaints are that I felt it could have been longer, at 60 minutes it did feel a bit short and that they only covered a few units (British and German). It would have been nice to have a broader perspective of the whole battle.
All in all an excellent and beautifully made documentary and one worth purchasing if you're looking for information about the First World War.
I first saw 'The Somme From Defeat to Victory' back in July of 2006 when it was first broadcast to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the first day of the battle. When I first viewed the film, it was very entertaining and quite informative. I had put off buying the DVD release for years until just recently.
I am very glad that I finally own this excellent documentary film. Basically, it covers the British army's experience during the Battle of the Somme campaign of the First World War. However, it sticks to one particular company of the British army - the Salford Pals Division. By doing this, the BBC used first hand accounts of the men who fought which allowed them to present the film as a documentary and a drama. Needless to say, it works out really well.
The film also presents first hand accounts of the Somme from the German side, too, meaning that no stone is left unturned, which makes this film all the more excellent.
By using first hand accounts of the men who fought, the viewer gets to see exactly why July 1, 1916 is considered the darkest day in the history of the British army; the viewer sees clearly the mistakes made by the commanders, mistakes that sent so many men to their death. Ultimately though, the first hand accounts allow the viewer to also witness the improvements made by the British, improvements which enabled them to defeat the Germans eventually.
Put simply, all of the above means that this film does exactly what it says on the tin, to use the expression. It aims to show how the British army went from defeat to victory, and it does so by using first hand accounts of the men who were there, on both sides, and combines these with documentary footage and the use of drama. Overall, it makes for a very entertaining and excellent watch. I highly recommend a purchase of this.
Finally, if I had any complaints to make, it would be that the film itself is a little short; it only lasts an hour and so, towards the end, it feels a little rushed. Overall though, it is not a big issue and should not put you off buying this at all.
I saw this programme when it was first broadcast on BBC and my immediate reaction was that it was the best produced documentary on The Somme that I have seen. It is a balanced and impartial account that reveals the limitations of the plan and tactics for the initial phase of the battle. However, it goes on to show how the Army adapted to the need for changes to those tactics and gives due recognition to the bravery and initiative of the fighting troops at regimental level. I have used the DVD as a scene setter for a low level battlefied tour and it brings home the reality of trench warfare most vividly.
Part documentary and part reinaction, this is excellent and gives the viewer a real insight into all aspects of life on the Western Front in 1916. Points out the often (conveniently) forgotten fact that the Allies actually WON the First World War.
My grandfather was there. He landed in Le Havre on 1st May 1915 with 51st Highland Brigade, and made it through WW1 intact, at least, physically. This new take on the Somme makes it seem more worthwhile, and whilst not justifying 20,000 dead commonwealth soldiers before lunch on 1st July 1916, the lessons learned had a significant impact on making the British army (with its imperial contingent) a winning combination by 1918. Definately worth watching, and I wish my Grandad could have seen it.
A BBC production doing what it always does best, good detailed writing and research, superbly acted. A must for enlightenment of the truth about the Somme and the incompetence that had such tragic consequences. In short, excellent.