This film is part of Free

The British in Belgium

In Flanders fields - this educational compilation of WWI footage tries to teach the most important lesson of all: never again

School programme and Educational film 1930 11 mins Silent


"Never again" are the watchwords for teaching WWI history in schools, and this compilation of wartime footage, produced over a decade after the armistice, already shouts it loud and clear. It's impossible to watch the opening scenes of relaxed marching Tommies without picturing what lay ahead for them.

Halfway through the film we take an aerial diversion over wartime Belgium in a biplane, ending with a gut-wrenching barrel-roll towards the earth. We land in a world governed by the grisly realities of trench warfare. Whether it's an improvised operating room in the rubble of a decimated landscape, or a soldier's cheeky wave to camera as he passes the swollen corpse of horse, you quickly realise that it's almost impossible to completely make sense of such imagery. It's notable that the film has no intertitles. A survey of artillery of increasing calibre only demonstrates that the more men it takes to load and fire a shell, the more it can maim and kill when it reaches its target.