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Battles of the First World War Podcast

Jul 1, 2020

In a wonderful way to help commemorate the 1st of July anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, the BFWWP has received this great interview between Associate Professor Fiona Graham and Mr. Colin Winn of the Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association. Conducted last year, Associate Professor Graham and Mr. Winn take a tour of the massive crater at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme battlefield to discuss the latest developments of the archeological dig there. 


Due to the ongoing pandemic and its related closures, commemoration events for the 1st of July on the Somme in France are likely to be severely reduced or canceled. The 1st of July of course, is the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the day the Hawthorn Ridge mine was blown for the first time. To help broadcast this year’s commemoration efforts and continue to live up to the well-known phrase “Lest We Forget,” Ms. Graham and Mr. Winn have graciously provided the BFWWP with an interview conducted on site at the Hawthorn Ridge Crater. I am deeply grateful and thankful for the opportunity to share this interview here with all of you.


...It’s not often you are invited to be part of a military history and archaeology team examining the very beginnings of the Battle of the Somme, but this is what happened to Associate Professor and Radio and Television Producer Fiona Graham as part of a new research team at Hawthorn Crater near Beaumont Hamel in France.


Fiona is a producer and writer who works on historical projects using film at Staffordshire University with colleague cinematographer Paul Ottey. She works hand in hand with history and archaeology teams and communities to research and capture the stories of the battlefields and sites across Europe, including Auschwitz and the First World War. Their recent work includes working on a film about Tank Deborah D51 and the Battle of Cambrai which they have exhibited in Northern Ireland and public talks in the UK and shown to help educate new generations of schoolchildren in Britain and France about the battle.


In this conversation on location in France she introduces us to her friend and colleague Colin Winn from the Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association as they take us on a journey around the World War One iconic crater and explain the work they are doing together today from the sights on, around and inside this massive hole in the ground with a circumference of over half a mile. 


Colin is a retired weapons engineer for the Royal Ordnance and BAE Systems and his grandfather was killed near Arras in 1917, he’s worked on the BBC documentary “Secret Tunnel Wars of The Somme” with historian Peter Barton and made short films and podcasts in America.


It’s the first time anyone has been granted access to uncover the secrets of this time capsule which has laid dormant for over 100 years and Fiona and Colin are the team bringing this new story to light for the next generation. 


Join them here on a tour on foot on a sunny but sometimes windy day as they explain what’s happening on the battlefields of Northern France today….


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