An act of courage and a gift of friendship

L.A.C. Bernard Darley (Service no. 28345), R.A.F, was commended for fighting a fire at Workshop No. 2 M.T.R.D. Royal Air Force, St Omer. He entered a burning building and fought the fire from within to prevent the explosion of two petrol filled tanks and the possibility of an electrical fire spreading to a nearby power station, at great risk to his own life.

He was assisted through the entire operation by a German Prisoner of War named Otto Arndt of the 139th P.O.W. Company. The two became friends. Otto crafted Bernard a matchbox (pictured here) as a gift and a reminder of their joint act of courage. Images of the matchbox and papers detailing Bernard's gallantry were submitted to The Great War Archive by Bernard's great-granddaughter, Merilyn Jones of Sutton Coldfield.


Lady Moira Bannister contributes articles to the Great War Archive Flickr Group

If we had thought that ‘Spin’ is a creation of the late 20th century then an examination of the above pages would prove this assumption incorrect. Together they form a three page report on the Battle of the Somme from the pages of a popular journal The War Budget , October 19th 1916, making interesting reading some 93 years on.

The whole tenant of the article can be summed up as ‘What the Germans had failed to achieve in 100 days at Verdun in comparison to what British had archived by the 8th October at The Somme’. Consequently the article makes exaggerated claims for any success and downplays any failures; for example reporting the capture of 3500 prisoners on the opening day of the Somme but failing to mention the loss of 58,000 British troops, one third of them killed. The Battle of the Somme would last for a further 41 days until the 18th November when exhaustion and the weather forced closure. British and French casualties amounted to over half a million with German casualties to match it.

The article was submitted to the Great War Archive Flickr Group on the behalf of Lady Moira Bannister, wife of Sir Roger Bannister. The Great War Archive Flickr Group has enabled members of the public to continue to share items originating from the First World War after the deadline for submission to the Oxford database passed in June 2008. The Flickr group now holds over 1500 items.