In 2009 three historians engaged forensic lip reader Jessica Rees to analyze silent film shot at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Soldiers of the Essex Regiment washing at a pool shout “Hi Mum!” and “Hello Mum, it’s me.” A soldier with a wounded foot repeats, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” And another soldier tells the crew, “Stop filming, this is awful.”
“What struck me the most was the optimism of the soldiers and their bravery,” Rees said. “They all seemed very positive, full of team spirit and jocular. Yet, as I was stunned to learn, many of them did not even survive the day of filming. I came away feeling a bit humble.”