expanded Post 317 (2009)
In a play on the concept of the Powers of Ten, I had a look at a photograph depicting the French victory at the Somme; or was it a British victory? Or German, via the lure of the others to a semi-victory? Its hard to say who won, or if there really was a winner. The Battle, which looks to me to be a sub-war within the war, occurred over the period of July through November 1916. When the smoke settled, there were some 1.5 million casualties on both sides.It has long been held that the battle really was won by someone, the British, the French; but there was so little that was accomplished by the action that there probably wasn't a winner, just losers.
And big losers, at that: Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa and Newfoundland lost 419,654 casualties, with 95,000 killed; the French lost 204,000 casualties and 50,000 killed. That made a total of 623,000 casualties and 146,000 killed for the allies; Germany lost 465,000 casualties and 164,000 dead. The advances made along the battle front went a few miles one way and then the other along a 12-mile stretch of battlefield, which four lives were traded for every inch gained along that porous front.
The first image here (above) is a very sharp detail from the overall picture published in The Illustrated London News for 6 January 1917, representing about 1% of the entire photo
The next image places the micro-detail in more context; this detail is itself about 5% of the main image, which is found just below this one.
The overall image from which these two details are removed is below. In turn, this large image is but a small detail of the greater overview of the battlefield, making up perhaps a few percent of the field of operations.
I'm trying to get a feel for the enormity of the battle, but I really can't, not even via powers of ten, manipulating the idea of orders of magnitude.
In one last try, I hypothesize that the 1.5 million casualties could not be displayed in 10 of these large images. .
That wouldn't look like victory at all.
(An "oh, shit" picture if there ever was one.)