WW1 Revisited

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The battlefields of Verdun are among the most haunting on the Western Front: vast acres of forest with crumbling trenches, bunkers and shell holes. In 1916 more than 770,000 French and Germans became casualties here and more than a thousand high explosive shells fell for every square meter of the battlefield. The French National Cemetery at Douaumont stands in the heart of the battlefield overlooking the scenes of some of its most… Read More

The Indian Corps Memorial at Neuve-Chapelle is located at the heart of India’s sacrificial ground on the Western Front. The nearby village of Neuve-Chapelle saw some of the earliest fighting involving Indian troops in October 1914 and was the scene of the Indian Corps attacks in March and September of 1915. The memorial was unveiled in October 1927 and aside from many Indian veterans who were present, Rudyard Kipling – the author… Read More

Ovillers Military Cemetery was started during the winter of 1916/17 when dead from the front line between Thiepval and Courcelette were buried here, including the son of the then famous Music Hall star Sir Harry Lauder. His son, Captain John Lauder, was killed in the front line during a quiet period in December 1916. His grave is in the staggered collection of burials clearly visible on the right in this film. There… Read More

The First World War trenches at Main des Massiges have featured several times on this site recently and understandably so as they are among the most impressive anywhere on the Western Front. Here a local association has used experimental archaeology to recreate both French and German trenches from the early war period. This was an area that saw heavy fighting in 1915 including some of the earliest examples of war underground with… Read More

Hooge Crater Cemetery has 5,923 graves; more than half of them are unknown soldiers. One of the great Silent Cites of Flanders it sits on a ridge astride the Menin Road close to where flame-throwers were used for the first time against British troops in July 1915 and was the scene of intensive mining activity as tunnellers fought beneath the Western Front. Filming cemeteries like this for the Above The Battlefield project… Read More

The trench system at Main de Massiges, a hillside in the Champagne battlefields that was the scene of heavy fighting in 1915 and became almost a household name in France, is one of the most impressive on the Western Front today. Trenches have been excavated and restored by a local association as can be seen in this aerial image. Known by very few visitors to the battlefields the Main de Massiges trenches… Read More

Hooge was a small hamlet on the Menin Road east of Ypres and the scene of fighting from the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914. By 1915 it was very much on the front line and saw the first use of flamethrowers against British troops in July 1915 and became an area of intensive mining activity beneath the Western Front. Hooge Crater Cemetery was a post-war burial ground and made by… Read More

Today is the 97th Anniversary of the Battle of Arras, in some respects one of the forgotten battles of the Great War. Despite the huge amount of publications on Ypres and the Somme, in recent years only Jon Nicholl’s Cheerful Sacrifice, Peter Barton’s & Jeremy Banning’s Arras 1917 and my own Walking Arras have been published on this short but bloody battle. I blogged about this for the University of Oxford WW1 Centenary site last year… Read More

” A ridge more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth!” C.E.W. Bean The Pozières Ridge was the scene of heavy fighting between July and September 1916 when Australian, British and later Canadian troops pushed the Germans back over what was the highest point on the 1916 Somme battlefields. On the nearby Pozières Windmill, which sites on the Ridge, an inscription reads: “The ruin of Pozières windmill which lies… Read More

Standing like some of neolithic monument with the backdrop of an autumn sunset, this concrete British Observation Post bunker is one of two located on the road between the villages of Auchonvillers and Mesnil on the Somme. They were built before the Battle of the Somme to allow Staff Officers a clear view towards the front lines at Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval and were in use when the battle started on 1st July 1916…. Read More