The Spectator

The meaning of the Somme

How the magazine greeted the beginning of a momentous battle

From ‘News of the week’, The Spectator, 8 July 1916: On the surface of London life there is hardly a ripple, and yet not a hundred and fifty miles from our shores is being waged the first stage of what in all probability will prove not only one of the greatest and momentous battles in all history, but a battle fraught with consequences that must make or mar us as a nation. All that we hold dear as men and women and as a race, all that makes life worth living, all that goes with home and liberty and independence, all the things that matter, depend upon the issue of the operations which have begun at the Somme. Though there may be, and indeed must be, pauses in the battle, this, for good or evil, is the beginning of the end.

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