The Turning Point

A study tour of the writing and writers of the Battle of the Somme

15-18 October 2016

“Between the opulent Edwardian years and the 1920s the First World War opens like a gap in time. England after the war was a different place; the arts were different; history was different; sex, society, class were all different”. Whilst most who have studied the events of 1914-18 would agree with Samuel Hynes, many would under- stand that the most significant stimulus of change can be narrowed down to the Bat- tle of the Somme which dominated the British sector of the Western Front during the summer of 1916.

Philip Gibbs, who had covered the war for the Daily Chronicle, writing about the Somme in 1919 said, “Modern civilization was wrecked on those fire-blasted fields, though they led to what we called ‘victory’. More died there than the flower of our youth and German manhood. The old order of the world died there, because many men who came alive out of that conflict were changed, and vowed not to tolerate a system of thought which had led up to such a monstrous massacre of human beings who prayed to the same God”.

The Somme saw the deployment of Kitchener’s volunteer army. The men who had rushed to the colours in the summer of 1914 were put to the ultimate test and whilst no one could doubt their bravery it proved to be an army ‘two years in the making and ten minutes in the killing’. At the end of the first day, July 1st, almost 60,000 Brit- ish men lay dead, dying or wounded and with them died the idealism, not only of the war itself but of society in general.

It was, in every sense, the turning point that was to have a massive impact on British society. Our tour aims to examine how the events surrounding this bloody period of the war were interpreted by the poets and writers of the day and by those who have reflected on it since.

The group will travel by luxury air-conditioned coach and will be based in a 3* hotel in Arras, the cost will include most meals & museum entry fees.

Full details of the tour will be available in the autumn of 2015.

To register your interest please email Andy Thompson at: info@eyewitnesstours.com