The Western Front Association is delighted that The Yorkshire Film archive has made available superb footage of troops prior to their departure for France in 1915.
Moving (movie) images from the First World War are quite rare, and those that are available are of varying quality. What the Yorkshire Film Archive has put into the public domain is a large amount of footage of excellent quality showing what seems to be territorial (or "weekend") soldiers prior to their embarkation for France in Easter 1915.
One of the clips shows an inspection of the men by high ranking officers, and another of the battalion's officers posing for the cameraman. It would be intriguing to use lip-readers to see if any of the (silent) footage can be "heard" - this technique has been used on other footage and would add another dimension to the already superb footage.
The 1/5th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment (which recruited heavily from Rotherham) was soon in the front line trenches, firstly on the French/Belgian border, before moving up to the infamous Ypres salient in the summer of 1915 as part of the 49th (West Riding) Division. It is possible some of the men shown here were involved in the battalion's first major action on 10 July 1915. The battalion was attacked by German infantry - artillery shell fire and gas were also used. The battalion lost about 30 men killed plus many more wounded in this first major encounter with the Germans.
This superb footage is a tribute to the men from the battalions who were killed in this and later actions.
Other footage shows the sister battalion (the 1/4th Y&Ls) - known as the Hallamshires - marching through their home town of Sheffield in November 1914, prior to leaving for further training in the UK. Both battalions were heavily involved in fighting for the rest of the war, ending up in the little-known Battle of Valenciennes in November 1918.
To be able to see the footage of these men prior to their service in the Great War is a privilege and enables us to gain a deeper understanding of this period of our history - something that The Western Front Association was set up to do. The WFA is keen to increase the understanding of the First World War and welcomes applications to join from anyone who wishes to learn more about this fascinating subject.
The Western Front Association
Note for Editors
The Western Front Association (WFA) was formed by eminent Great War historian John Giles in 1980. Our primary aim is furthering interest in The Great War of 1914-1918. We also aim to perpetuate the memory, courage and comradeship of all those on all sides who served their countries in France and Flanders and in other countries during The Great War.
The WFA, a registered charity, has now grown to some 6,000 members worldwide, with over 50 local branches around the world.. [The Association does not seek to justify or glorify war. We are not a re-enactment society, nor are we commercially motivated. We are entirely non-political. The object of the Association is to educate the public in the history of The Great War with particular reference to the Western Front.]
Applications for membership are warmly welcomed from anyone of a like mind.
Some additional key facts:
· The WFA produces an eminent journal (Stand To!) and a members' Bulletin six times a year.
· Some five years ago, the WFA saved the Great War Medal Index Cards from destruction and has since made them available online via Ancestry.
· The WFA bought the Butte de Warlancourt, a major feature on the Somme Battlefield, in order to prevent its destruction and to preserve it as a memorial.
· The WFA holds its own ceremony at the Cenotaph on Armistice Day - 11 November - every year (except Remembrance Sunday).
· The WFA has digitised large numbers of Great War maps held by the Imperial War Museum. The WFA has contributed resources to digitise Oral History tapes held by the Imperial War Museum.