New Somme testimonies added to Lives of the First World War
Over 500 newly revealed eye-witness accounts of the Battle of the Somme have been donated to IWM collections, which explore the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the men who went over the top on 1 July 1916.
The accounts were collected by Martin Middlebrook as research for his book The First Day on the Somme, following an appeal for reports of the day’s events in more than 90 local and national newspapers. The stories record not only the terrible wounds suffered by men on both sides but also the experiences of the battle that would linger with them for the rest of their lives.
The Middlebrook Papers are gradually being added to Lives of the First World War, IWM’s permanent digital memorial to all those who served in the First World War for Britain and the Commonwealth, where people can discover more about the men and women who took part in the Battle of the Somme and find out about their own First World War ancestry.
One of the recently added stories is that of Frederick Heardman, a Private in the Manchester Pals.
Our grand artillery had previously well and truly pounded the German front line but had apparently not penetrated all their very deep dug-outs out of which the machine gunners came as we approached and our artillery had ceased fire. Our men were dropping down everywhere. It was all like a bad dream.