Panorama No.3: Beaumont Hamel, The Somme from The Zero Hour Panoramas (2016)
Jolyon Fenwick (1971-)
Pigmented ink print annotated by hand in Indian ink; edition of 20; signed on the verso
Newly-framed as pictured
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To view all 14 of the Zero Hour Panoramas, please go to www.zerohourpanoramas.com
The early mist had almost gone and the sun was high enough to give warmth when the appointed moment came and, against a sky ‘of a kind commonly described as heavenly’, 60,000 men, in good faith and bad boots, climbed out of their trenches and advanced on the German lines. It was 7.30am British Summer Time, 1st July 1916. Zero Hour. By nightfall, out of a total of 116,000 British and Empire soldiers committed to the battle that day, 57,470 had become casualties. 19,240 were dead. It was, and remains, the costliest day in British military history.
Abridged from Zero Hour: Views from the Parapet of the Somme by Jolyon Fenwick (published by Profile Books 2016)
The 14 panoramic photographs in the Zero Hour series (exhibited at the Sladmore Gallery in London on 30 June 2016 to mark the centenary of the battle of the Somme) were taken by Fenwick at the exact position (and time) from which 14 battalions attacked in the first wave on the morning of the first day of the battle of the Somme. In the manner of battlefield panoramas of the time, they are annotated by hand with the points of tactical significance (invariably christened by the soldiers themselves) as they existed immediately before the battle.
This, Panorama No.3, was taken by Fenwick from the Sunken Lane: jump-off point at Zero Hour of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers of the ‘Incomparable’ 29th Division. The attack here was signalled by the explosion of a 40,600lb mine under the German stronghold of the Hawthorn Redoubt (the crater lies beneath the wooded area to the right of the panorama). Detonated ten minutes early, the corresponding lift in the British artillery barrage spelled doom for the attackers. It was here, from a position just behind where the panorama was taken, that Gaumont cameraman Geoffrey Malins famously recorded the explosion of the Hawthorn Ridge mine. It was here also that Malins captured the first ever frames in history of men (three soldiers of the 16th Middlesex advancing along the ridge to the right of the panorama) being killed in action