WWI Footage Released Showing Soldiers March Off To War


Amazing footage was recently released of WWI soldiers marching off to the trenches.

The film was created by using several different clips that were filmed in 1915. These clips show soldiers smiling as they marched passed local towns people who cheered them on. Some clips even show wives or girlfriends shedding a few tears, the Express reported.

There is also a clip of the soldiers taking part in barefoot races or playing football. On the other side of the light-hearted coin, there are shots of soldiers who were practicing their bayonet drills and marching through France and the trenches.

The soldiers would go on to fight in battle, with many of them not returning, on the Western Front. One of the battalions filmed were attacked by gas in their first big battle.

The new footage was released by the Yorkshire Film Archive in hopes that Daily Express readers can identify some of the men and women—even if they have to check through old photographs at home.

Jonty Carr of the YFA stated: “There is a piece of extremely moving footage showing troops of the 1/5th Battalion (York and Lancaster Regiment) being inspected in the shadow of York Castle before marching off to war.

“The Battalion, mainly made up of volunteers from the Rotherham and Birdwell area, sailed to Boulogne in April of 1915 with many of its men never returning home.

“Other films had specific purposes, such as one entitled “A Scrap of Paper”, which was made in order to raise money for the City of Hull’s Great War Trust.

“The Trust used its funds to help the dependents of those who had died in the war as well as those soldiers who had been injured in the conflict.

“Another film, taken at a Highland Sports Day at Ripon Racecourse in April 1916, focuses not only on the military personnel but also the local community that had turned out to watch the event.

“The film would later be shown at the city’s Palladium Cinema, where residents would flock to catch a glimpse of themselves on the silver screen.”

A grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund has made it possible to preserve the film. The film captures the excitement, camaraderie and even the fears from soldiers and civilians alike.

Not only is the film captivating, it is extremely well made. Unlike other films from the era, the film runs smoothly and it looks like it could have been created only yesterday. Because the film is of such good quality, it will make it easier to identify the people who are seen on the screen.

David Tattersfield from the Western Front Association stated: “To be able to see the footage of these men prior to their service in the Great War is a privilege and enables us to gain a deeper understanding of this period of our history – something that The Western Front Association was set up to do.

“Moving images from the First World War are quite rare, and those that are available are of varying quality.

“What the Yorkshire Film Archive has put into the public domain is a large amount of footage of excellent quality showing what seems to be territorial or ‘weekend’ soldiers prior to their embarkation for France in Easter 1915.

“The 1/5th battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment  which recruited heavily from Rotherham and Barnsley was soon in the front line trenches, firstly on the French/Belgian border, before moving up to the infamous Ypres salient in the summer of 1915 as part of the 49th (West Riding) Division.

“It is possible some of the men shown here were involved in the battalion’s first major action on 10 July 1915. The battalion was attacked and temporarily ejected from its trenches by German infantry – artillery shell fire and gas was also used.

“The battalion lost about 30 men killed plus many more wounded in this first major encounter with the Germans.

“This superb footage is a tribute to the men from the battalions who were killed in this and later actions.

“Other footage shows the sister battalion (the 1/4th Y&Ls) – known as the Hallamshires – marching through their home town of Sheffield in November 1914, prior to leaving for further training in the UK.

“Both battalions were heavily involved in fighting for the rest of the war, ending up in the little known Battle of Valenciennes in November 1918.”

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE