“The Horrors of the Somme brought to Life”
The Battle of the Somme was to be the British Army's major offensive on the Western Front in 1916. Starting at 7:30am on the 1st of July the battle raged for another 148 days. There were 57 ,470 casualties on the first day alone of whom 19,240 killed or died of wounds - the blackest day in history for the British Army.
iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad users can now visit this renowned battlefield from the comfort of their armchair, thanks to a new app launched today.
“Pocket Tours” uses the full suite of functionality available to the iPhone to bring history to life, allowing users to view photographs, hear original sound clips and see film footage, whilst hearing from world-renowned historians what happened, who was involved and how history was shaped.
It is then possible to use the app to visit the battlefield or region and undertake a GPS guided tour whilst listening to the commentary and seeing where historic events took place through the live camera.
Designed by North East Entrepreneur, Mark Jackson, “Pocket Tours” is the world’s first battlefield tour app which is able to use all of the pioneering capability of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
He said: “Imagine walking over the ground that shaped history alongside an expert who can explain the events as they unfolded. The GPS feature guides you from point to point using the knowledge of the historians to make sure you see things from the best vantage points. This makes a tour of the battlefields accessible to anyone, anywhere at any time.”
Once downloaded, users don’t need costly and often slow internet access to use the app. They can just plug in their headphones and immerse themselves in the story as it unfolds. If you can’t get to the battlefield that’s fine – the app is still an illuminating and engrossing account in its own right.
Now that the initial platform has been tried and tested there are many other applications in the pipeline. In Europe there is the D-Day landings and subsequent operations. Other tours include the Battle of Waterloo, a Historic Discovery Tour of Scarborough and the chilling account of events that took place in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Negotiations are currently under way with a number of interested individuals to extend the range further. The opportunities are almost limitless.
As Mark has been an active member of the Territorial Army for over 26 years he has agreed with the ABF “The Soldiers Charity” to use the app to help generate funds for the charity.
Historical notes and background info regarding the Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme was to be the British Army's major offensive on the Western Front in 1916. The main line of assault ran for 25,000 yards, nearly 14 miles. After a prolonged week-long artillery bombardment of the German positions, the storm of British shells increased just prior to zero-hour and, with staggering effect, merged with huge mine explosions to herald the attack. At 7.30am, on a clear midsummer's morning, the British infantry emerged from their trenches and advanced in extended lines across the grassy expanse of No Man's Land.
There they met a hail of machine-gun and rifle fire from the surviving German defenders. Accurate German barrages, immediately added to the pandemonium, as shells engulfed the attackers and wrecked the crowded British assembly trenches. The advancing infantry suffered enormous casualties.
1 July 1916 witnessed extraordinary gallantry, immeasurable suffering and an unprecedented number of casualties. Despite the terrible setbacks Fourth Army HQ ordered its Corps to continue to attack and set objectives for the next day. The battle was to rage for another 148 days. There were 57 ,470 casualties on the first day alone of whom 19,240 killed or died of wounds - the blackest day in history for the British Army.
The app provides you with the location of parking places to use with each stand as well as nearby cafes, restaurants, visitors’ centres and museums that you may wish to visit. One of the most obvious and ubiquitous features on the Somme battlefield are the scores of military cemeteries that pepper the landscape. The cemeteries closest to the stands you will visit and your route along the battlefront are included in this app with descriptions of each one.
In the cemeteries and on the memorials you will be able to find the final resting place or commemoration of many of the men mentioned during this tour; individuals who bring a sense of perspective to the incomprehensible scale of loss on the 1st of July 1916. Private Iles who was killed aged just 16 along with hundreds of his comrades from his home town of Leeds. Private McFadzean who’s unimaginable act of self-sacrifice earned him the Victoria Cross and saved dozens of his fellow Irishmen. The poet Lieutenant Hodgson who appeared to have a terrible premonition of his own death and turned it into poetry. Captain Nevill who encouraged his men to cross no man’s land in the face of machine gun fire by providing them with footballs to kick towards the enemy trenches.