WW1 Revisited

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The Above The Battlefield project was back on the Somme over Easter photographing and filming various locations including some of the smaller battlefield cemeteries around Beaumont-Hamel. New Munich Trench was a position prepared┬áby British troops at the end of the Battle of the Somme: on 15th November 1916 units of the 51st (Highland) Division captured Munich Trench and 2/2nd Highland Field Company Royal Engineers and 1/8th Royal Scots dug New Munich Trench…. Read More

London Cemetery and Extension was made in the 1920s when the entire cemetery was made permanent; but the original burials by the main gate date back to the capture of High Wood by the 47th (London) Division on 15th September 1916 during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, when tanks were used for the first time. The cemetery was greatly enlarged in the 1920s and 30s from an area much wider than just the… 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

Ovillers is a village on the Somme battlefields, taken by German troops in September 1914 and which later formed part of their defences in what would become Mash Valley on 1st July 1916; the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. The village was finally cleared more than a week later and during the winter of 1916/17 a cemetery was made here for casualties coming back from the front line between… 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

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

The village of Serre was in German hands from September 1914. Sitting on a rise, the trenches on the slopes surrounding it dominated the Allied positions. On 1st July 1916, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, men from northern Pals battalions of the 31st Division attacked here achieving very little but suffering heavy losses. One epitaph on these men, from John Harris’ Covenant With Death, reads: Two years in… Read More

On this 98th Anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme, this image of the Thiepval Memorial was taken with the Phantom Drone being used for the Above The Battlefield project. Good friend and author Mary Freeman, author of Poets & Pals of Picardy, coined the phrase ‘Mighty Thiepval’ which sums up what the memorial is about very well indeed – it can be seen all over the Somme battlefields… Read More

Prowse Point Military Cemetery was started in late 1914 by men of the British 4th Division who served in this sector from the end of the First Battle of Ypres through the first winter of the war in 1914/15. Units of the division took part in the Christmas Truce here in December 1914. The cemetery has 217 graves. The film shows a typical battlefield cemetery from the early war years along with… Read More

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