The Battle of the Somme

Title: The Battle of the Somme (silent movie score)
Composer: Greg Smith
Instrumentation: Piano
Product medium: Full score (PDF download) – 80 pages
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In 1916 France was struggling to fend off German occupation.  It had become apparent that to break the stalemate Britain may need to increase its involvement in battle.  Plans were made in late 1915 by French commander Joseph Joffre for coordinated offensives on all fronts.  On the western front, Joffre planned to attack Picardy near the Somme River, which marked the boundary between the French and British forces.  However, by July 1916, the French forces had weakened and the Somme offensive became a primarily British battle.

The initial attack was made on 1 July 1916 at 7.30am.  100,000 men from British forces went into battle on that day.19,240 British troops died that day.  The battle would continue for a one hundred and forty-one days.

Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, British army cinematographers, filmed footage of the preparations and Battle of the Somme.  The live footage was recorded between 26 June and 8 July 1916.  Some shorted staged sequences were staged in  later July.

The footage was first shown in London on 10 August 1916 at the Scala Theatre and was publicly released 21 August.

This original score was created for a live Remembrance Day Observance presented by the Teachers Sub-Branch of the RSL and Australia’s Silent Film Festival on 12 November 2012.


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