Film: 11266

War + Military | 1910 | Silent | B/W

Synopsis:

A compilation of World War One footage (some perhaps 'staged') of British soldiers in the trenches, going over the top and returning from battle; the wounded carried on stretchers include some German soldiers.

A script appears against an illustration of troops in a trench: 'Working like devils in the mud, filth and stench, of always-decaying trenches, soaked with the blood of their comrades - no hardship was too great for our boys; they just grinned - and worked.' We look down into a trench in which a row of six British soldiers can be seen, side-on to us, digging out mud; three stop and walk towards us, moving beyond the bottom of the picture; the other three continue digging.

Script: 'Before snatching a few precious moments of sleep, they had to pump the filthy, rat-infested water from their dug-outs.' Behind a mound of mud, two soldiers sit in a dug-out, while a row of soldiers stand to the left of and behind the dug-out; the camera moves right to show a large pool of water. Four British soldiers walk along a winding trench away from us; barren trees are visible either side of the trench and beyond. A soldier walks away from us along a steep trench, with fencing against each side; on the right, a number of soldiers duck under the barbed wire of the fences and climb the bank.

Some soldiers appear at the top of a bank and move rightwards across the picture; many others in the foreground and beyond run in the same direction, the bottoms of their coats flapping and bayonets at the ready. Some British soldiers are seen faintly against the horizon, before more are seen rushing across in the opposite direction to that in the previous shot. A line of soldiers can just be made out moving rightwards across the middle of the picture; explosions can be seen in the distance.

'The Attack. At a signal, along the entire 16 mile front, the British troops leaped over the trench parapets and advanced towards the German trenches, under heavy fire of the enemy.' In what may be a staged sequence, a line of troops in helmets, bayonets at the ready, lean against the bank with their backs to us; an officer comes round the back of them, climbs the bank and raises his hand; immediately the other soldiers clamber up the bank and disappear from view; two soldiers remain slumped against the bank, apparently shot dead before they had made it out of the trench. Troops move away from us, climbing over the barbed wire that runs across the field, before disappearing in the mist or smoke; one man is apparently shot and left behind.

British soldiers walk leftwards across the picture, looking at the camera as they pass. Two men struggle to carry a body to a trench in the middle of a wasteland. A soldier walks along a trench towards us with a body on his back, the head resting on his right shoulder; others follow him. A soldier walks away from us along a trench, then stands to the right to let two men bearing a stretcher come towards us, passing beyond the left of the picture. Red Cross staff move towards us along a road, two at the front carrying a stretcher, while two behind wheel along a stretcher on a cart.

'Bringing in the wounded (British and Germans) on stretchers through the trenches during the height of battle. German wounded being brought in near Carnoy.' Two men face us, standing in front of a trench that can be seen behind them, as they watch a man carrying a body pass, and two men carrying a stretcher bearing a man with a bandaged head, his helmet resting on his chest, whom one of the bystanders examines and walks after; once the stretcher has passed, a row of troops jog along the trench behind, and pass across to beyond the left of the picture.

We look down into a trench at several men in Red Cross uniforms and helmets struggling to lift up a stretcher and carry it up the bank on the right of the picture. The same men bend over, most with their backs to us, as they lay down the stretcher at a roadside; they walk towards us. A Red Cross man walks towards us along a high-banked trench, supporting a wounded soldier, while two more soldiers follow. The two men seen at the front of the previous shot now pass in the foreground beyond the right of the picture, and behind two Red Cross men carry a stretcher; as it moves across at the bottom of the picture, we get a good view of the wounded man, with his hands behind his head, looking up at the camera.

British soldiers stand or sit at both sides of a trench; one walks towards us and passes beyond the screen, while another man approaches behind. A line of soldiers walk along a trench towards us, each looking up at the camera; a Red Cross man helps along a soldier with a wounded leg, in obvious pain; a man with a bandaged head gets up from the left side of the trench to allow the wounded man to crawl into what is probably a dug-out; the Red Cross man who had been supporting him seems to signal to the cameraman to go in the other direction; more soldiers move towards us, including a man carrying a man piggy-back, who turns to the left where the other wounded man had gone. Red Cross staff move from right to left across the screen bearing probably German soldiers in stretchers on carts along a rugged path.


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