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Title:DUTCH GENERALS VIEWING THE BATTLEFIELD [Main Title]
Film Number:IWM 136
Summary: Visit of Dutch Army officers to the old British Somme battlefield, Western Front, as part of a study tour arranged by the British Government in January 1917.
Description: I. A group of four Dutch Army officers (Luitenant-kolonel Jonkheer J.H. Roëll, Generaal-majoor T. Burgers, Kapitein J.W. van Oorschot and a military attaché) with two British escorts walking over the battlefield. The soil is very chalky and the battlefield is heavily cratered but old enough to have telephone wires erected over it. The visitors investigate a captured German dugout. II. An honour guard of British Cavalry with lances, very smartly dressed but off parade, walking their horses along a road, then moving off mounted, then stationary mounted with their horses browsing off roadside bushes. III. A final scene of the Dutch generals standing in the rain watching British 8-inch howitzers fire from across a road.
Production Details: War Office Cinema Committee (Production sponsor)
Topical Film Company (Production company)
Personalities, Units and Organisations: British Army, escort (regiment/service)
British Army, cavalry (regiment/service)
Royal Netherlands Army & [generals] (regiment/service)
Keywords: destruction, French military - area: battlefield (object name)
weapons, British - gun: 8-inch howitzer (object name)
delegations, Dutch international - military (object name)
Somme, France (geography)
Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W
Sound format: Silent
Soundtrack language: None
Title language: English
Subtitle language: English
Technical Details: Format: 35mm
Number of items/reels/tapes: 1
Footage: 471 ft; Running time: 8 mins
Notes: Title: this is taken from the shotsheet.
Summary: On 5 January 1917 three Dutch officers left Flushing for Queensborough. In the evening they arrived in their hotel in London. Here they met with the Dutch military attaché kolonel J.C.C. Tonnet. During the next five days these officers visited production facilities in Great Britain and on 11 January they left for France. They arrived in Calais on the same day and travelled to the Somme-front by car. On 12, 13 and 14 January their British escort showed them around the battlefield (exact locations are unknown). After visiting the Somme-battlefield the Dutch officers also visited the Yser, Argonne and Verdun battlefields. They were back in Holland by the end of January.
This study-tour was initiated by the British government. The Dutch government received an invitation from the British ambassador in The Hague, Sir Alan Johnstone, early December 1916. The invitation mentioned two officers by name and also 'a junior officer who speaks fluent English'. After some deliberation with the Dutch government it was decided that the following officers would embark on this mission:
- Luitenant-kolonel Jonkheer J.H. Roëll (two stars on his collar)
- Generaal-majoor T. Burgers (four stars on his collar, two in silver and two in gold; almost bald and with larger moustache than the others)
- Kapitein J.W. van Oorschot (three stars on his collar)
It is not clear who the fourth officers is. It is possible that it is the Dutch military attaché in Great Britain Tonnet, but there is also a possibility that it is the Dutch military attaché in France, majoor R.B.A.M. de Quay.
This information is backed up by material in the National Archives in The Hague, the library of the Legermuseum in Delft (the equivalent of the IWM in Holland) and by contemporary newspapers.
(Details kindly supplied by Sven Maaskant, History student at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, based on research carried out for paper on military study-tours undertaken by Dutch army-officers during the First World War. 23/2/2006 KGTG)