British NCO served with 1/7th (Robin Hood) Bn Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regt) on Western Front, 5/1916-3/1918; POW in Stettin and on Rugen island, Germany, 3-12/1918
REEL 1: Aspects of period in GB, 1896-1915: family background in Nottingham; education; evening classes in shorthand bookkeeping and English; employed in bleaching factory; story of enlisting with 3rd Bn Sherwood Foresters at Mechanics Institute, Nottingham, 1915; reaction of mother; issued with railway warrant and posted to Belton Park for 3 months basic training; returned to Nottingham for further training; billeted in school; opinion of food; sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, France, 5/1916. Aspects of operations with 1/7th (Robin Hood) Bn Sherwood Foresters on Western Front, 5/1916-3/1918: joined 1/7th Bn on Somme front; preparations for attack at Gommecourt, 1/Jul/1916; problem of being stranded on own; helped stretcher bearers with wounded and dead; one of only two soldiers left out of draft; moved to Arras sector and Bn made up to strength; returned to Gommecourt, 1917; volunteered for 1 month sniper's course; attitude to role as sniper; description of reaching sniper post in tree trunk; reason for amalgamation of 1/7th and 2/7th Bns Sherwood Foresters, 2/1918; duties including building defences, night patrols and listening posts; question of prior knowledge of German offensive, 3/1918; description of bombardment and German attack at Bullecourt, c.8am 21/Mar/1918; set up sniper post on top of dugout; story of being captured and taken by wounded German officer to dressing station.
REEL 2 Continues: Aspects of period as POW in France and Belgium, 3/1918: story of conversation with German soldier at dressing station; gave cigarette to German officer in exchange for water; slept in field overnight; marched to old factory in Marchiennes; number of POWs in factory; opinion of food; description of train journey across Belgium to Munster, Germany. Recollections of period as POW in Germany, 3-12/1918: deloused and head shaved; opinion of food; story of address by German general; pay books taken; innoculations; received white bread from British Help Committee; description of train journey to POW camp in Stettin; description of camp and inmates; opinion of food; attitude to interrogation; moved into English camp; duties in camp; communication with mother.
REEL 3 Continues: description of journey to island of Rugen; opinion of accommodation in hotel; relations with guards; allowed to read German newspaper and taught German by local boy; ratio of POWs to guards; relations with Serbian POWs and German civilians; description of work maintaining railway line and unloading fuel supplies; pay and working hours; description of landscape; postal communication with girlfriend and mother; censorship of letters and use of green envelope; opinion of food; method of roasting potatoes; smoked pipe using tobacco made from dried oak leaves; story of being given milk by Serb POW.
REEL 4 Continues: memories of visit to island by German Crown Prince; story of being given extra food and day off on holidays; comparison of German and French civilians; further description of work on railway line; story of being threatened by guard with bayonet after receiving milk from factory; description of baking own cakes; social activities with local girls; mother paid into comfort fund to pay for grocery packets for POWs; method of collecting and issuing grocery packets and white bread parcels from Denmark; story of visit from control officer; played cards with Serbian POWs; reason for not buying cigarettes.
REEL 5 Continues: daily routine; further comments on pay; cleared railway line after landslide; talked to girls through fence; awareness of progress of war; boots mended by Serbian POW; baths; story of visiting English POW working on farm; change in working hours; story of spending three days in local jail; photographs taken in camp; walked back along railway line to camp.
REEL 6 Continues: awareness of riots in Germany, 11/1918; story of not receiving news of Armistice until Dec/1918; contracted flu; gave surplus food to Germans; description of journey to Bergen, 9/Dec/1918; returned to camp in Stettin; visited opera; story of meeting other POWs in pub; sailed aboard Danish ship to Helsingborg, Sweden. Aspects of period in Sweden, 12/1918: reception from local civilians and band on arrival in Helsingborg; story of contracting flu and being taken on dog sledge to military hospital, 22/Dec/1918; opinion of conditions and treatment; story of being given presents by Swedish hospital visitors; description of blood poisoning and infection in leg; story of receiving medical treatment during voyage back to GB; disembarked Leith, Scotland, 1/1919. Aspects of period in GB, 1-14/1919: admitted to VAD hospital in Edinburgh.
REEL 7 Continues: story of going to party; returned home and granted three months leave; demobilised, 4/1919; opinion of treatment at VAD hospital; post-war employment. Reflections on wartime service and period as POW.
The Battle of Verdun (21 February-15 December 1916) became the longest battle in modern history. It was originally planned by the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn to secure victory for Germany on the Western Front.
'Over The Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917, by John Nash.
Brothers Paul and John Nash were both commissioned as official war artists during the First World War - Paul from 1917 and John from 1918. Prior to becoming official war artists, both of the brothers had seen active service on the Western Front.
The trench warfare of the Western Front encouraged the development of new weaponry to break the stalemate. Poison gas was one such development. The first significant gas attack occurred at Ypres in April 1915, when the Germans released clouds of poisonous chlorine.