Warfare in News

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Posted on Tuesday 24th May

To mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Bristol Cathedral is hosting an exhibition called ‘No News of Fred’ in which local author Jacqueline Wadsworth traces the final days and hours of Fred Wood, the great-uncle she never knew.

On July 1st 1916, a staggering 19,240 British men were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme – the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. Among them were young volunteers like 19-year-old Fred Wood of Easton, who was experiencing battle for the first time. Fred was one of the first to go ‘over the top’ on that fateful day, and also one of the first to die. Amidst the chaos of slaughter he disappeared forever, his body never found.

Using family photographs, letters, postcards and newspaper cuttings, we imagine his tense wait in the assembly trenches at dawn, waiting for the whistle to blow ... clambering over parapets to face the enemy on No Man’s Land ... the wholesale slaughter of lines of men, mown down by machine guns and shells ... and Fred’s probable fate, as revealed in the diary of his older brother Edwin, who was also serving in the trenches ...‘No news of Fred’.

It was all a far cry from Fred’s excited arrival in France in June 1915, when he couldn't wait to get started on his new adventure as a private with the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. No News of Fred is the culmination of Jacqueline’s patient research to discover who her great-uncle was and how he died. The story is also included in her book Letters From the Trenches, published by Pen and Sword Books. Today his name is remembered on the magnificent Thiepval Memorial in Picardy and will be remembered again in Shrouds of the Somme - a beautifully poignant art installation remembering the 19,240 men who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle.

This exhibition is being presented as part of the Cathedral's WWI remembrance project We Have Our Lives. Jacqueline will be speaking about the exhibition and her book on Thursday 18 August, 1.15pm at Bristol Cathedral. Tickets are £3 and are available from the Cathedral Shop or online.

Further Reading

Letters from the Trenches

Only £19.99

Letters from the Trenches

(Hardback - 184 pages)
by Jacqueline Wadsworth

A history of the First World War told through the letters exchanged by ordinary British soldiers and their families.

Letters from the Trenches reveals how people really thought and felt during the conflict and covers all social classes and groups – from officers to conscripts and women at home to conscientious objectors.

Voices within the book include Sergeant John Adams, 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers, who wrote in May 1917:'For… Read more...


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