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May 28, 2018




You are watching: The first world war from above

A fitting film because that Memorial job is “The an initial World war from Above,” a short but engrossing BBC documentary held by the irish journalist Fergal Keane. 


What makes the documentary so unique is it examines civilization War I—the first major problem fought ~ the creation of the airplane—from an aerial perspective. Back it provides a vantage point high above the trench lines to look at the war in a new way, the best part of the film is the deeply personal nature. It never ever loses vision of the fact that the aerial photography recorded bloody battlefields top top which countless young guys fought, suffered, and also died. 

As the documentary explains, the new age of aerial enlightenment made pho fire—the top killer in human being War I—far an ext accurate than ever before before. Because that example, Keane shows just how the decision of a German unit to cultivate a garden near their camouflaged barracks inadvertently gave away their position to brothers aviators, which allowed a devastatingly accurate series of Allied pho strikes on the German troops. In the documentary Keane likewise walks the enduring stretches the trench lines v historians, who describe the grim truth of combat top top the western Front. Among the battlefields Keane explores is the Somme, where on a solitary day—July 1, 1916—over 19,000 brothers soldiers were killed and virtually 40,000 wounded. By the moment the battle of the Somme ended in November 1916, end one million British, French, and German soldiers had been eliminated or wounded, and also yet the battle lines in between the Allied and also German armies had right moved.  

Most memorable the all, Keane’s documentary has archival clip of a impressive 1919 flight by the French pilot and also war veteran Jacques Trolley de Prévaux. Equipped with a motion snapshot camera the he attached come his aircraft, Trolley de Prévaux flew indigenous the Belgian coastline to the French citadel city that Verdun, recording because that posterity one unforgettable record of the war’s extraordinary devastation. Trolley de Prévaux’s 1919 footage, which to be taken simply months after ~ the war finished in November 1918 however was only found a couple of years back in the French army archives in Paris, is rather remarkable. In the heart of Trolley de Prévaux, Keane takes to the wait with modern pilots to fly over the same ground that Trolley de Prévaux flew over. As Keane shows, if you look hard enough, the beautiful landscape of modern-day France and also Belgium quiet bears concealed scars that the conflict that expense some 16 million lives.   

In a yes, really nice touch, Keane concludes his documentary through a visit to Trolley de Prévaux’s now elderly daughter, that tragically never knew her parents. The factor was due to the fact that they did no survive civilization War II. Once Nazi Germany conquered and also occupied France in 1940, Trolley de Prévaux and his wife offered in the French Resistance. In 1944 the Gestapo captured, tortured, and executed them, just prior to the Allies liberated France native the Germans. It’s thus quite relocating to view the daughter’s reaction when Keane shows her the footage of her father’s airship flight in 1919.    

“The very first World war from Above,” which is only about 50 minute long, is easily accessible on YouTube here. 


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An interesting aside ~ above the subject of army aerial photography. In an anthropology class end 55 years ago I learned the story the an facet of the use of photography for archaeological purposes. The French did no exempt clergy from army duty. A French Jesuit archaeologist was assigned come aerial photography duty. Photos take away of what showed up to be pasture revealed lines and also shapes the were thought to it is in of armed forces significance. Yet when troops inhabited the areas no structures were found. Excavation revealed that below where currently were current in photos over there were hidden roads, wall surfaces or structures. Because of sport in the nutritional and drainage nature the fields above produced variations in the quality of grasses that were only obvious on close examination of photos. The usage of aerial photography for discovery of historical sites stubborn to this day.