WW1 Revisited

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Today I was in Flanders visiting the area around Ypres. Close to the village of Ploegsteert, or ‘Plugstreet‘ as the British Tommy called it, I went to Prowse Point Cemetery, in modern Wallonia and near to where the Christmas Truce took place in December 1914. An international event is taking place here this year for the centenary of the Truce and as part of this a set of trenches is being constructed… Read More

Above The Battlefield is a new WW1 Revisited project which will feature film of the Great War battlefields taken from an aerial drone, in this case a DJI Phantom 2 Vision+. The traces of the Great War are found all over the Western Front but at times it is hard to see them properly. By filming them from above this will add a new dimension our understanding of the battlefields as they are… Read More

This week marks the centenary of the start of the First Battle of Ypres when the men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) defended the ground around Ypres for the first time in what would become almost four years of constant fighting in this area. The magnificent Black Watch Memorial at the site of Black Watch Corner near Polygon Wood overlooks the battlefield where a century ago the Old Contemptibles fought their… Read More

In a small side road on the edge of fields in Northern France is a small shelter with a British clock face on the roof bearing the name of a company in Derby. On close inspection within lies the grave of Lieutenant Anthony George Attwood Morris. The youngest son of a family from Rugby, Morris had been educated at Winchester and had been commissioned in the regular army before the war, serving… Read More

On this day a century ago the Battle of the Marne began, a turning point in the early months of the Great War when the German Army was stopped from reaching Paris. Nearly two and a half million men fought in this battle which lasted less than a week and resulted in heavy losses on both sides; one in four of the French soldiers who took part became casualties, for example. The… Read More

A century ago today during the early stages of the Battle of the Marne, French author and poet Charles Péguy was killed in action. Péguy was no youngster; he was 41 when he went to war with the 19th Company of the 276th Regiment of Infantry in the French Army with the rank of Lieutenant. Going into action in the fields seen above he was shot in the head and killed instantly, one… Read More

The village of Hénencourt was behind the British lines in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme and was a rest area for troops going to and from the trenches. The chateau was used by various Corps commanders and was a massive complex dating back to the eighteenth century. The woods surrounding it contained a large army camp and by March 1918 the village was full of men again as the German… Read More

On the road between Henencourt and Baizieux, south of the village of Warloy-Baillon, is the Moulin de Rolmont. Typical of those in the region it is a stone tower that in 1914 was a fully working and functioning windmill. In 1916 the windmill was well behind the lines in what was a rest area for the British Army, and close to a Royal Flying Corps aerodrome. It was photographed by official photographer John… Read More

Bois de Delville, Delville Wood – or Devil’s Wood to the troops – was a large area of woodland attached to a chateau alongside the village of Longueval. This village was taken by the 9th (Scottish) Division on 14th July 1916 and the South African Brigade of that formation marched into the wood 3,500 strong; after six days of fighting as the wood was held, just 750 South Africans walked out. It… Read More

Audregnies is a small village west of Mons, out on the far west flank of the British Expeditionary Force during the Battle of Mons in 1914. On the 24th August 1914 the largest cavalry action of 1914 took place here when 9th Lancers and 4th Dragoon Guards charged the German positions at the Audregnies sugar factory. Captain Francis Grenfell led the 9th Lancers into action at Audregnies and was later awarded a Victoria Cross… Read More

A century ago today the Battle of Morhange saw the start of one of the bloodiest periods of the war for France, now largely forgotten, especially outside of France. Morhange was in Lorraine and was in a region annexed by the new nation of Germany after the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Therefore Morhange was in Germany in 1914 and called Mörchingen. In the fighting here on 20th August 1914 the French lost more… Read More

Corporal Jules-André Peugeot was a 21 year old teacher from Eastern France who was mobilised and in uniform a hundred years ago today as his unit approached the German border while France and Germany went to war. They clashed with German cavalry and Peugeot was killed. This memorial to Peugeot, the first French Poilu to fall on the Western Front in 1914, was originally built after the war but was destroyed by… Read More

As the summer moves on, the rolling chalk downland fields of the Somme are filled with corn; blowing gently in the breeze as larks sing in the sky above. Here and there are scattered the small soldier’s cemeteries of the Somme battlefields; comrades cemeteries of men who fought and died together, now buried together. They mark the passage of conflict over this ground a century ago and their quiet majesty continues to… Read More

  In the streets of Sarajevo on this day a hundred years ago the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip stood up from beside a street cafe and emptied the contents of his automatic pistol into a car bearing Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, killing them both. The outrage over the murder of the heir to the Austrian throne would bring about the conflict that became the Great War, and was the first… 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