Published date: 16 August 2012

The film clip starts with Tommies making their way across No Man’s Land and into enemy front line trenches. We then see a title explaining that Battle Police are rounding up prisoners and wounded in No Man’s Land. From here we see large numbers of prisoners being marched away guarded by British soldiers and then relaxing in the sunshine as they are processed.


‘The Battle of the Somme’ was released in 1916. The government did not produce it, but they did approve it. The film was deeply controversial because the battle scenes were so shocking. Many observers felt it was too graphic. On the other hand, it appears that people appreciated the reality of the film-making. They preferred a film like ‘The Battle of the Somme’ because it didn’t try to pretend that war was easy or fun. People probably already had a good idea of what trench warfare was like from local newspapers and from talking to soldiers on leave.

Interesting or important points about the film

A Committee of MPs produced this film privately, not by the government. However, the government did approve the film before it was shown. It raises interesting questions about the film-makers. Was the purpose to make propaganda? Was it to make money? 8 million people watched the film. Is propaganda and profit the same thing at this time?

Please note that this video is silent.

Author: The National Archives

Duration: 1:27

Release date: 11th August 1916

Producer: British Topical Committee for War Films

Source: IWM 191

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Leave a comment


You can find help on how to download and listen to our podcasts in our quick guide to getting started. If you wish to re-use any part of a podcast, please note that copyright in the podcasts and transcripts in some cases belongs to the speakers, not to the Crown. Please contact the Copyright Officer with queries. If commenting, please be aware of our moderation policy.


Select an option to receive our free podcast series, using either RSS or iTunes. See our help guide for more information on podcast subscription.