The Somme 1916 - From Both Sides of the Wire

Defence in Depth - Verteidigung in der Tiefe

Series 1 - Episode 2 Defence in Depth - Verteidigung in der Tiefe

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Review

This is top-drawer TV history. You may think you have already seen more sad, awful coverage of the events of 100 years ago than you can bear, but give this a go anyway.

In his engagingly matter-of-fact way, presenter Peter Barton gives us nuts and bolts of how tactics worked or didn’t, how offensives unfolded and how attititudes differed on either side of no man’s land. In the process, our stereotype of the German military takes a battering: they were more self-critical and creative than the Brits, it turns out, writing scathing reports of mistakes made and sharing best-practice along the line. They also treated prisoners kindly – and got intelligence from them as a result.

The no-frills, close-detail history is completely fascinating – and by the end, when Barton reads us a letter written by a soldier as he lay dying in a shell hole, it will rake at your heart, too.

Summary

Historian Peter Barton concentrates on the second phase of the battle, from the middle of July to the mid-September 1916, reveals how an Allied advance that should have lasted days and weeks, took months and resulted in yet more carnage on the Somme battlefield. He explains that while British tactics were unvarying, that of their German enemy evolved using the changing landscape of the battlefield and led to the emergence of the new German tactic of defence in depth.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Peter Barton
Director Clive Flowers
Executive Producer Michael Poole
Producer Clive Flowers
Documentary History