Somme trip

Foto`s of the Somme trip by Heman Kroes: please click Somme-pictures


The next text, pictures and video`s are by John Richardson.

Sunday 16th November in the morning at 7:30 am, John Cameron-Webb, Jan and Gail Bakker and myself rose up from a WW1 trench, fueled by a spoonful of rum, and were immediately mowed down by the entrenched German machine gun cross fire.

Somme Trip Sept 2012 from John Richardson on Vimeo.

The Front line trenches

Over the top

A sadly familiar scene during the first moments of the Battle of the Somme. Luckily for us it was almost 100 years later. The Germans had months to prepare, finding the best high ground and get themselves well and truly dug in and protected. We had mistakenly expected German resistance to be crushed following a week-long preliminary bombardment of the German lines, but instead found machine-gunners awaiting our infantry advance.

The German Army, on the defence, held the high ground and were aware of the intended attack; they had been practically unmolested since October 1914, which had allowed the time needed to construct extensive trench lines and deep shellproof bunkers. British intelligence had underestimated the strength of the German defences. The German bunkers were up to thirty feet deep and could resist artillery fire

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial—John-Cameron-Webb, Gail and Jan Bakker

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on either side of the river Somme in France. The battle saw the British Army, supported by contingents from British imperial territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Canada, India and South Africa, mount a joint offensive with the French Army against the German Army, which had occupied large areas of France since its invasion of the country in August 1914. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the war; by the time fighting paused in late autumn 1916, the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.

The losses where appalling. Some 60,000 on the first day alone.

Vimy Memorial

The opening day of the battle saw the British Army suffer the worst day in its history, sustaining nearly 60,000 casualties. Because of the composition of the British Army, at this point a volunteer force with many battalions comprising men from particular localities, (The Hull Lads, for example) these losses (and those of the campaign as a whole) had a profound social impact.

The conduct of the battle has been a source of controversy: senior officers such as General Sir Douglas Haig, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force and Henry Rawlinson, the commander of Fourth Army, have been criticised for incurring very severe casualties while failing to achieve their territorial objectives. Other historians have portrayed the Somme as a preliminary to the defeat of the German Army and one which taught the British Army tactical and operational lessons.

The German perspective

Having heard numerous accounts of bravery and losses from our side of the barbed wire, I was curious to hear the German perspective.

A quick search unearthed this account from Crown Prince Rupprecht, who was promoted to Field Marshal in 1916 and given command of the northern group of armies in August, ‘Army Group Rupprecht’, spending the remainder of the war on the Western Front.

The Battle of the Somme by

Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

Our losses in territory may be seen on the map with a microscope. Their losses in that far more precious thing – human life – are simply prodigious.

Amply and in full coin have they paid for every foot of ground we sold them. They can have all they want at the same price. We have a reserve, constituted of trained officers and trained men, which has not yet been drawn upon. We are not, like the Entente Generals, forced to throw raw, untrained recruits into the very front of the fighting.

Whether this will be the last effort we cannot know. We have taken measure of their strength at its maximum tide and are prepared for anything they can deliver. For the sake of the thousands whom new attacks will slay in vain we hope they have learned a lesson. So far as the interests of the Fatherland are concerned, we are indifferent; indeed, inclined to welcome any further folly they may indulge in.

It saddens us to exact the dreadful toll of suffering and death that is being marked up on the ledger of history, but if the enemy is still minded to possess a few more hectares of blood-sodden soil, I fear they must pay a bitter price.

It will now be useful to examine briefly what has been achieved.

Though on a front of about 28 kilometres they have driven a wedge of about four kilometres depth, they themselves will not assert, after their experiences of July 10th, 22nd, 24th, and 30th that the German line has been shaken at any point.

This success cost the English, according to careful estimates, a loss of at least 230,000 men.

For an estimate of the French losses in this fighting no definite basis is at our disposal, but, as they had to bear the brunt of the battle, their losses must also be heavy, in spite of their greater military skill.

The total losses of our enemies must, therefore, amount to about 350,000, while ours, though regrettable, cannot be compared with theirs so far as numbers are concerned.

Photos of events and excursions

Meeting at Rijksmuseum Twenthe followed by garden party in Twekkelo
Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Twente, photos by Jan Willem Meijer

Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Twente, photos by Hetty de Bok
Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Twente, photos by Hanny Meijer

Recently organized GNE events

90 jarig jubileum GNE (Apeldoorn 24 april 2010)

Ruim boven de 100 leden hadden zich voor het negentig jarig jubileum van GNE aangemeld.
Voor een impressie c.q. foto`s (door Jac van den Ende) van het jubileum,
click op `90 jarig jubileum` (met muziek)
(click on website `90 jarig jubileum` in the left column under `Albums` on `GNE 90th Anniversary`, You can set the pictures to `full screen`)


During the GNE lecture season, events are regularly held and talks are given about once a month and unless otherwise stated, these are delivered in English. The visiting speakers are all experts in their chosen fields and their lectures are both informative and entertaining. They may feature different aspects of British life, arts and culture, places and people. Occasionally we are also treated to a traveller`s tale. Wherever possible, lectures are illustrated.
An overview of this year`s programme is given below. For more details on our events and talks please click events & talks. For the full programme with dates, venues and entry fees per branch, please click branches.


Slotfestijn GNE

Op zaterdag 20 juni a.s. luiden we met zijn allen het GNE uit tijdens het Slotfestijn ter afsluiting van 95 jaar GNE. (Oud-)GNE-leden en (oud-)afdelingsbestuurs- en (oud-)HB-leden nodigen wij hierbij van harte uit.
Het evenement zal plaatsvinden bij het historische Slot Zuylen in Oud-Zuilen vlakbij Utrecht ( http://www.slotzuylen.nl ). De connectie met Groot Brittannië ligt in de persoon van Belle van Zuylen. Zij was bevriend met James Boswell toen die in Utrecht studeerde in de 18e eeuw.

Download hier de volledige informatie leaflet-slotfeest.

Slotfestijn GNEMore information...
John Cameron Webb:

On 27th September John Cameron-Webb and Gerard Sprenger will be conducting a guided tour of the Market Garden battlefield and on 28th touring the border area of Germany looking at the Rhine Crossing battle of Feb-March 1944 Operation Veritable.  The tour will finish at the National War Museum in Overloon, near Venray.
Gerard Sprenger: Former history teacher; avid WWII historian and Dutch Grenadier Guardsman.
John Cameron-Webb: Battlefield guide mainly focussing on WWI, but has conducted Market Garden with Gerard in the past and Waterloo tours. John has organized already four successful trips for GNE and CADS members about WWI and WWII:
• Amsterdam: `War walk` (2011, with Gerard Sprenger);
• Ieper: (2011);
• Albert (France): `Somme Battlefields` (2012);
• Arnhem: Battlefield Tour `Market-Garden` (2013).

Operation Market Garden and Operation Veritable Battlefield More information...
Julian Paren:

Julian Paren is a physicist by training with a PhD in glaciology awarded by the University of Cambridge for research on the electrical properties of ice carried out at the Scott Polar Research Institute. After a spell as Nuffield Senior Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham he joined the British Antarctic Survey in 1976 and made nine visits to Antarctica. In his later years at BAS he was Director’s Assistant and Head of Information and Archives. Throughout his time at BAS and in retirement he ran adult-education courses for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning.

The Geograph Project, the Black Isle and eastern ScotlandMore information...
A Life of Visiting High LatitudesMore information...
Martin Papworth:

Martin Papworth specializes in the history and archaeology of the Dorset Iron Age and has written a book on the local tribe known as the Durotriges. He has worked for the NT for 27 years and has been involved in a range of archaeological projects. Martin carried out work at the great Avebury Henge and discovered buried megaliths and was also involved in the Stonehenge Riverside Project which worked out a new chronology for the Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape. Most recently he has been involved in uncovering mosaics at Chedworth Roman Villa after a new cover building was designed and erected over the West Range of the Villa.

Chedworth Roman VillaMore information...
Stonehenge Riverside ProjectMore information...
Dr Paul Franssen:

Paul Franssen has been teaching British and South African Literature at the University of Utrecht since 1979. His expertise on the Renaisance is accompanied by his interest in some more modern areas and people, such as British 20th century drama. Jane Austen, J. M. Coetzee and Oacar Wilde.

Jane Austen and the Modern WorldMore information...
John Pilkington:

John Pilkington has been called “one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers’ tales”.
In 1983, after journeys in Africa and Latin America, he completed a 500-mile solo crossing of the western Nepal Himalaya, and told the story in his first book, Into Thin Air. His interest in Asia grew further with the opening in 1986 of the border between Pakistan and China, making it possible – for the first time in forty years – to retrace virtually the whole of the Silk Road. John was one of the first modern travellers to do so, and he wrote about the journey in An Adventure on the Old Silk Road. This was followed in 1991 by An Englishman in Patagonia; recounting eight months spent exploring the southernmost tip of South America.
In 2000 he became one of only four people in modern times to walk the 1,600-mile Royal Road of the Incas in the Andes of Ecuador and Peru. In 2003 he explored the Mekong River and, with two Tibetans, reached and mapped its source at over 17,000 feet. In 2006 he turned his attention to the Sahara Desert, and joined a camel caravan carrying salt for 450 miles from the mines of Taoudenni to Timbuktu.

A Balkan AdventureMore information...
Christine Sinninghe Damste:

Op mijn 13e mocht ik mee naar een lezing over de geschiedenis van speelgoed door Petra Wassenberg-Clarijs, destijds directeur van het speelgoedmuseum in Deventer. De vlam sloeg over, want sindsdien verzamel ik niet alleen speelgoed en spelletjes, maar ook kinderprentenboeken uit de 19e en begin 20e eeuw.
Mijn collectie inspireert mij onderzoek te doen naar de historische en pedagogische achtergrond van spel en speelgoed. Hierover vertel ik u graag tijdens een van mijn lezingen.
In de loop der jaren werkte ik mee aan verschillende speelgoedtentoonstellingen en verzorgde ik naast lezingen ook publicaties op het gebied van kinderspeelgoed en kinderboeken.


Little George and his English GovernessMore information...
John McAleer:

John McAleer is Lecturer in History at the University of Southampton and historian of the British Empire. His work focuses on the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the 18th and 19th centuries, situating the history of empire in its global and maritime contexts.
He is interested in the relationships, interactions and patterns of exchange created by the British Empire, and in assessing the impact of these experiences on both British and colonial societies. Previously, as Curator of Imperial and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum, he worked on the development and delivery of gallery projects, focusing on Atlantic and Indian Ocean history. 

British views of the Victoria Falls in the nineteenth centuryMore information...
John Sutton:

JOHN SUTTON was a Senior Lecturer in History at Anglia Polytechnic University. He specialises in the history of Early Modern England and the English Renaissance (1558-1640), the English Civil War and the Jacobite cause. In 1983-84 he made a television series on Eastern England in the 1640s, entitled ‘A War in the Kingdom’ which was screened on Anglia TV. He regularly hosts special interest gatherings on a wide range of historical subjects. He has previously talked to the GNE branches on topics such as Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, Charles I and Elizabeth I. His last GNE lecture tour was in October 2009 when he spoke on `Rob Roy - hero or villain`.

By the Sword DividedMore information...
A Dutch King and an English PalaceMore information...
Mistress to the King? Jane Whorwood and Charles IMore information...
Dr Adam White:

Dr. Adam White is curator at Lotherton Hall, a country house museum between Leeds and York. He also has a research interest in the architecture and sculpture of the early 17th century in Britain when ties between England and the Netherlands were particularly close. Dr. Adam White will give a talk about the life and work of Nicholas Stone the Elder (1586/7-1647) who was the leading English mason-sculptor in the period c.1620-42. Stone the Elder was a pupil of Hendrick de Keyser, master mason to the City of Amsterdam and a leading Dutch sculptor of his time, and he married de Keyser`s daughter Mayken (Mary). Dr. Adam White has written several articles on Stone and he features largely in the Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors c.1560-1660 which he published with the Walpole Society in London in 1999 (with supplement 2009).

The life and work of Nicholas Stone the ElderMore information...
Prof. dr A.J. (Arthur) van Essen:

Arthur van Essen taught English in Dutch secondary schools, and from 1971 was lecturer, then senior lecturer, and finally full professor of Applied Linguistics and Language Pedagogy in the University of Groningen. He became professor emeritus in 2003. He has lectured extensively throughout Europe, Africa and America, often on missions for the British Council. One of his chief interests is the teaching of English to speakers of other languages.

Teaching English to the poorest of the poor in North-Eastern IndiaMore information...