Zero Hour (Hardback)

100 years on: views from the parapet of the Somme

Jolyon Fenwick

A haunting photographic record of the Somme battlefield as it looks today

The first day of the battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, was the most devastating event of the First World War for the British army. In Zero Hour, 14 superlatively photographed panoramas (each one a four-page gatefold, opening to nearly 1 metre wide) show the Somme's major sites as they look today. Taken from the exact viewpoints of the front-line British troops as they began their advance towards the German trenches at 7.30 a.m., these hauntingly peaceful present-day views are annotated (in the handwritten military style of the time) to show the lethal German defensive positions at the moment of the attack.

Jolyon Fenwick's eerily compelling photographs are accompanied by detailed maps and vivid descriptions of the day's events, detailing their awful human loss: out of 116,000 British and Empire troops committed to the assault, by nightfall 57,470 had become casualties, and 19,240 were dead. Zero Hour is simultaneously a celebration of the renewing power of nature, and a powerful and unconventional reminder of the horrors of the past.

Publication date: 02/06/2016


ISBN: 9781781257081

Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics, Humour & Gift, Reference

Reviews for Zero Hour

'Original, vivid and haunting: a must-read account of the first day of the Somme.'

 Peter Frankopan, author of 'The Silk Roads'

'In the 1920s, the Bishop of Ripon was moved to describe the new national ritual of Armistice Day as 'the new Good Friday of the post-war world'. But, as we are reminded by the elegiac prose and artworks contained in Jolyon Fenwick's deeply moving new book, it is perhaps that fateful day on the sunlit downlands of Picardy that most closely resembles our national Passion; a day that witnessed the greatest human suffering and personal sacrifice our country has ever known.'

 Country Life

'An indispensable companion for those seeking to understand Day One of the Battle [of the Somme].'

 General Sir Nick Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen (Chief of the General Staff; Head of the British Army)

'The ideal accompaniment to what is still a national pilgrimage.'

 Professor Norman Stone

'Through his powerful words and clever use of panoramic photographs ... Fenwick has painted a fitting memorial to a tale of unstinting courage and unspeakable suffering. ... Fenwick's painstaking research tells of an event which should never be repeated.'

 Press Association

'What Owen, Sassoon and the other war poets put into words, Fenwick has captured visually with his photographs. Among the many books on the centenary of World War 1, this is perhaps the most unusual and the most moving.'

 Daily Mail

'Original and visually arresting.'


'If you want to see what they saw as they went over the top to face the German machine guns, you can do so in this extraordinary book of photographs showing the Somme sites as they look today.'

Paddy Ashdown THe Week

Jolyon Fenwick

Jolyon Fenwick

Jolyon Fenwick and Marcus Husselby are the founders of, a curator and e-tailer of contemporary design.