The Somme

In Paris’ Montparnasse Metro station, along a massive moving sidewalk and as part of European-wide events commemorating the 100 year anniversary of WWI, an impressive fresco by Joe Sacco has been on view for weeks. The Fresco, paying a bit of homage to the famed Bayeux Tapestry, shows hour by horrific hour the unfolding reality of one of the most gruesome battles of WWI, the battle of the Somme.

In context: In its first day (July 1st 1916) some 40K soldiers were wounded & 20K died. (Interesting historical footnote: There were more British soldiers killed or wounded in the FIRST 3 days alone of the Battle of the Somme, than the US lost in World War I, Korea and Vietnam, …combined).

At its end losses from all sides, dead and wounded, surpassed a million. The detail is amazing so if you happen to be in or near Paris, it’s worth the look. The fresco starts with an image of British General Alexander Haig, then moves to show the smiling upbeat faces of soldiers heading off to battle. The smiles soon fade. You can see the reality of the battle, there are body parts, soldiers mired in mud, and the continuous onslaught of artillery (prior to the start of the battle the British unleashed a barrage of some 1,700,000 shells fired at the German lines).

APOLOGIES FOR THE poor shooting! Am still on one crutch and had to balance on a moving sidewalk. Gonna try another take in a few days. Subscribe if you like and keep an eye out for the upcoming website. Cheers David!



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