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The Somme 1916

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The above picture shows a Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment as they march through the outskirts of Amiens, after de-training for the Somme - 10 May 1916. (Source Imperial War Museum)

With the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War happening this year I hope this is a fitting tribute to those who served and a gentle reminder of the debt we all owe to them for our way of life. I remember being taught the War Poets in English lessons at school. This one comes to mind:- Wilfred Owen 1893 -1918.

"Anthem for a Doomed Youth"

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds

Imperial War Museum Photo Archive
Somme Mud by E.P.F Lynch
British Web Equipment by Martin J.Brayley
War on the Western Front - Bounty Books
Forgotten Voices on the Somme by Joshua Levine

About the Author

About Alan McNeilly (AlanL)

Greying slightly, but young at heart. I've been teaching adults off and on for most of my life. Left the services in 85 and first started modelling in about 87 for a few years. Then I had a long spell when I didn't build anything (too busy) and really just got started again during the summer of ...


Hi Romain. Many thanks, and also for the input during the build. Appreciated. Hopefully we will see a few more offerings, both from the current WW1 campaign and as the year progresses. Cheers Al
FEB 11, 2014 - 03:30 AM
Hey Alan, Congrates on becoming a feature, this one deserves it. Beautiful job. All the little stories blend together and give a very realistic view of life in the trenches. I very much enjoyed the build from beginning to the end. Kind of sad that it ended, but it ended well. Now I see you are off and running on the next. I think this one will turn out just as well from what I see. bob d.
FEB 11, 2014 - 12:43 PM
Morning Bob, Comments appreciated. Thanks also for contributing to the 'rat' population and the encouragement throughout the build. If stats are anything to go by it was a popular thread, so hopefully we will see some more WW1 builds, especially this year. Cheers Al
FEB 11, 2014 - 05:20 PM
modelcellar (Paul Ondeck) said Hi Alan, Your Somme diorama looks GREAT!! I really like the way you used our interlocking sandbag sections, timber and wicker trench supports to create an entire trench system. VERY NICE!! keep up the good work. Paul Hi Paul I copied you post across as it got linked to a feature in aeroscale!! The sandbag sections really gave me the idea and your two British Troops are really well sculpted. We just need a few more hint, hint. Thanks for you comments, appreciated and sorry about the mix up the links got crossed somehow. Cheers Al
FEB 25, 2014 - 06:04 AM
Hi folks, The local council here in Luton are running a WW1 project from 2nd August to 14th December 2014 in the Heritage Center in Wardown Park in Luton. I've offered them the loan of the build for the duration of the exhibition, so if you're passing and want an eyeball view of the build then it should be on display. Depending on their funding they may do some kind of interactive link connected to the build too. Cheers Al
APR 10, 2014 - 01:05 AM
While this diorama is about the Somme, your words reference Verdun, perhaps the other single most invoked name symbolizing futility in war. I spent a day at Verdun with my son last May on our "Band of Brothers" tour of Europe's battlefields. It was perhaps one of the most-depressing days of my life: the ossuary at Fort Douamont with upwards of 100,000+ unidentified skeletal remains, the acres & acres of graves (two/space in the town of Verdun proper and more up across from the Ossuary). The Fort is little more than a shell, and touring it made me wonder how men endured years of this kind of warfare. This is great modeling from a master modeler, I just can't get very excited when thinking about the horrendous waste of life it represents. We need to tell this story. Every village in France we went through had its obelisk with the words "Pour Nos Enfants Morts" (for our dead children) or some variation, with the names of the villagers killed in the Great War.
APR 10, 2014 - 02:49 AM
Hi Bill, Thanks for looking in and the comments. The Great War probably more than any other symbolises the futility of war. The war had a profound impact on the social, political and economic structure across Europe and the world. It inflicted both psychological and physical damage on a scale never experienced before. The League of Nations came into being on 25th January 1919 and the Great War became known as 'the war to end all wars'. With approximately eight and a half million soldiers killed, an estimated 21 million wounded, and around 10 million civilian deaths, it's impact was global. These were fine thoughts, unfortunately as history shows both large and small scale wars flourished throughout the 20th and into the 21 century. Depending on your point of view, some like the 2nd World War were fought on the need to defeat the aggression and oppression of people and countries and others fought to gain power and influence or exterminate entire populations. It is sad but true that there are people with evil in their hearts who thrive on the oppression and domination of others as well as craving social, political and geographical power. One thing we have become very good at is killing each other. This build was never intended to glorify war but to pay tribute to those who fought for what they believed to be just. With this year being the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, it is but a tiny thank you to those who served and gentle reminder of the debt we owe not only these soldiers but the many who came after and had to re-fight the battles to secure our way of life. It could be argued by some that the hobby we all enjoy glorifies war and all it's horrors. For me it's a reflective hobby, holding history in your hands and understanding where one comes from. For Britain names like the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres are part of our history and for the French Verdun most probably symbolises their titanic struggle to hold onto their country no matter what the cost. Democracy by its very nature is a weak thing and as in the past there may be times in the future when men and women will have to stand up and fight and perhaps die for it; and as it is now right and proper to remember those who sacrificed their lives so I believe it will be in the future too. Al
APR 10, 2014 - 05:21 AM
Al, I hope you did not take anything I said as criticism of your fine diorama. While you and I have not always agreed on modeling matters in the past, I have nothing but the utmost respect for your skills and vision. And you are certainly correct that the sacrifices these men (and many women, too) made for their countries must be commemorated. With the centenary of the Great War upon us this August, it's good that we remember how quickly, cavalierly and, yes, cheerfully Europe dragged the rest of the world into the abyss. Satellite photos show Russian forces massing along the border with Ukraine today; it's sad how quickly we forget the lessons of the past.
APR 11, 2014 - 03:35 AM
Hi Bill, No, not at all, I was only thinking aloud about the past and present. As you mention Russia and Ukraine I see a repeat of the opening plays in WW2, a land grab under very dubious circumstances. I think Russia will find itself becoming more and more isolated from the rest of the world and whilst it does a lot of sabre rattling it is no where near as powerful as it was before. Anyway, that's by the by, but it shows how the thinking of a small group of people can influence world events, to the detriment of the majority. Al
APR 11, 2014 - 04:20 AM
Hi folks, One element that never got added to the scene were some captured German weapons. The recent release if the ICM kit provided the answer, although camo on German helmets wasn't introduced until around 1917 I believe, so a bit of artistic licence there. Cheers Al
JUL 13, 2014 - 12:49 AM