‘The bravery and sacrifice is staggering’
TV presenter and historian Dan Snow shares his family connection to the Great War.
As a military historian, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the First World War without thinking too much about my own family’s involvement. However, my great grandfather, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas D’oyly Snow, played a vital role in the war, leading the 4th Division in the retreat of August 1914 and commanding VII Corps on the first day on the Somme and at the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917. He had a very difficult time and lost many men. Like many of his fellow soldiers, he came home from war severely injured. He sustained a cracked pelvis after his horse fell on him and spent much of his life in a wheelchair as a result. My work as an ambassador for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has made me really consider the impact of war, not only on those fighting, but also for the families they leave behind. The charity was called upon at the outbreak of the First World War to take care of the families of soldiers who were serving, and it continues to provide vital support to serving and veteran families today. As a father myself, learning my own family’s history has made me realise just how difficult it must have been for Thomas to leave my great grandmother, Charlotte, and three children at home, and how hard she must have worked to hold the family together. When he returned, she then had to cope with the aftermath; a husband who was physically disabled, no doubt changed irreversibly by the trauma of what he had witnessed. If there is any consolation for my family, it’s that Thomas made it home from the Somme. Many men under his command did not. The bravery and sacrifice of my great grandfather and his men is staggering. Even now, 100 years on, this is something we should never forget. ◆ To find out more about how you can fundraise, volunteer or support SSAFA, visit ssafa.org.uk/ world-war-100
Men in the trenches showed incredible bravery