How Historically Accurate is Battlefield 1 - Fact or Fiction?

Electronic Arts and DICE released Battlefield 1 last month and here at Aussie Gamers Express there has been the hot debate centred on the campaign and it’s length, but also in Episode 151 of the Aussie Gamers Express Podcast both Lucas and Red touched on the subject of the historical accuracy of the game and whether or not the names used were real or not. It has also been a topic raised and spoken about with some of the other admins on the page, so with my side hobby of reading and researching about historical events, I decided to put together a few points in relation to the historical accuracy of Battlefield 1.

Are the names found in Battlefield 1 real names of World War 1 soldiers? Well the short answer is “NO”. They are not real, and if in any way shape or form the names are that of a World War 1 veteran then it is by pure coincidence. But in reading through some other interesting facts and events surrounding the campaign stories featured in Battlefield 1, there are some truths to the fiction depicted in the game.

In regards to the characters, the names are all fictional and the campaign stories found in Battlefield 1 are a fictional twist on events that actually took place. However, the characters of the campaign are loosely based on those of real people who fought during World War 1. Thanks to you tube channel “Games of History”, they have posted a video which explains the details of "fact versus fiction" of Battlefield 1. The video is just over an hour long, and definitely worth a look.

There was a British tank crew similar to that found in the campaign, which found themselves behind enemy lines during the Battle of Amiens. They fought the German forces and pressed on for over nine hours before either being killed or captured.

Harlem Hellfighters 
The Harlem Hellfighters were in fact a real unit that fought in France nine months after the United States joined the war. Every troop being of African American descent, their first battle in which they saw combat was on the 8th of April 1918. They fought alongside the French Troops, and some of which recieved French Military Honours. The US Forces did not want to fight with an African American Unit on their side and only just recently did one of the Hellfighters recieve a US Military award (nearly some 100 years after the events).

During ‘The Runner” story featuring the ANZAC landing at Galipoli, the character of Jack Foster is actually a strong resemblance to James Martin. Both characters were underage when they enlisted and James Martin was only 14 years old when he succumbed to the disease Typhoid during the Gallipoli Campaign.

Zara Ghufran, the Bedouin protagonist, is likely to be based upon a Lebanese woman named Farida al Akle. Farida was believed to be the lover of T.E Lawrence and taught him Arabic.

According to DICE Senior Producer Aleksander Grondal, they were not trying to create a documentary about that era (World War 1) “It’s just an interesting era. We’re trying to make a game, it’s supposed to be fun first, so of course we ‘re going to take liberties where we can.”

The idea of having a Battlefield game set during World War 1 had been pitched for over nine years. “It’d been pitched a few times,” Grondal is quoted as saying “It clicked together quite nicely. The more we started looking at the source material and started digging….. it had all the components that a Battlefield game needs, the weapons, locations and interesting events, it was unexplored.”
Grondal also is quoted as saying “What I’m hoping is, by raising awareness of this era, that it is so much more than the Western Front, and maybe people get excited to read up on it. I think that’s a positive. This was a pivotal moment in Western history and we can encourage people to read up on it, then that’s a win in itself.”

Battle of the Somme
In setting the game to the period of history known as the “War to End All Wars” World War 1, it was one of the most brutal and horrifying events in human history. The war would only last 4 years but in that time over 40 million casualties were recorded. 17 million soldiers were killed and 20 million more were wounded (nearly the whole population of Australia). One battle “The Battle of Verdun” lasted over 303 days and on average 2,000 soldiers were killed a day. World War 1 changed the world forever, in 1914 at the beginning of the war soldiers went marching into battle with bright coloured uniforms, rifles, and sabers. By 1918 soldiers fought in dark and drab utilitarian uniforms of modern combat, machine guns, tanks, planes as well as biochemical weapons such as tear and mustard gas, all of which was for the first time.

It appears to be a touchy subject and era of history, which many game developers have not ventured to. Valiant Hearts and Verdun are the only ones that come to mind. Whilst there have been plenty of other games set in World War 2 and the modern warfare / combat era, there seems to be something about World War 1 that it is best left respected and remembered, but not forgotten. 
Until next time.

Aussie Gamers Express
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