Felix Fund has donated a collection of historic eyewitness accounts of the Battle of the Somme to the Imperial War Museum where, for the first time, they will become publicly available. This year is the centenary of the three-and-half month First World War Somme battle, which officially ended on 18 November 1916. There are some 800 eyewitness accounts, about half telling of what men saw on the first day of the British and Dominion infantry assault on the Somme, 1 July 1916. The rest deal with the first day, 21 March 1918, of the German Spring offensive that led to fighting on the old Somme battlefields all over again.
The family of Holly Davies BEM gifted the Somme eyewitness accounts to Felix Fund’s Holly Davies Angharad Contingency Fund. The gift was part of a fund-raising exercise in memory of Holly, Chief Executive of Felix Fund until her death in 2014. Holly’s family requested that the eyewitness accounts go to IWM, which welcomes members of the public as well as students and relatives of the men of the Somme to see the collection. The Holly Davies Angharad Contingency Fund will benefit to the tune of £25,000 given by Felix Fund supporters who wish to remain anonymous.
The Somme papers will be officially handed over to IWM on Armistice Day, 11 November. They will figure in forthcoming IWM publicity and there is a feature in the December issue of IWM’s Despatches magazine. The eyewitness accounts, many unpublished, were originally gathered for two classic books by Martin Middlebrook, The First Day on the Somme (1971) and The Kaiser’s Battle (1978). To make an appointment to see the Somme papers, visit www.iwm.org.uk/research/research-facilities and quote reference IWM Documents.26137.