There are a large number of German First World War cemeteries in the Vosges area of the Western Front, many of them containing original features or even contemporary headstones. The cemetery at Illfurth, located on a hillside amongst the woods above the town, was a cemetery started by the Germans when this ground was part of Germany in 1914. At that time the men buried here would have been interred on what… Read More
The sight of front-line barbed wire remains a powerful image of the Great War. In the early stage of the war the use of so-called ‘Chevaux de Frise‘ (or knife-rests as they were known by the British) enabled soldiers to prepare barbed wire defences behind the lines and bring them up, putting them in place at night. Being portable they could also be moved. Few survive intact but this section is part of… Read More
The Western Front ran for more 450 miles from the Belgian coast to the Swiss Border. At the Belgian end the trenches petered out in the sand dunes near to the Belgian town of Nieuport. Soldier-author Charles Douie fought in the area with the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in 1917 and left this description of the sector: Nieuport was not greatly different from other towns lying in the near vicinity of the… Read More
Small French battlefield cemeteries are rarer than the British ones on the Western Front as most battlefield cemeteries were concentrated into larger burial grounds in the 1920s. This small battlefield cemetery is close to the village of Chavannes les Grands in the Vosges and commemorates men from a French regiment who fought here in August 1914. Buried here are Lieutenant Paul Genairon and his comrades of the 260th Regiment of Infantry. On… Read More
When the Great War went static during the winter of 1914/15 and trench warfare began, steel “sniper’s plates” started to be used by both sides to afford protection to their troops and enable them to fire safely across No Man’s Land. There were many designs of these and some just had a hole to fire through, while others used a ‘key-hole’ system so that the protected area could be sealed up again… Read More
Newfoundland was the smallest colony in the British Empire to raise it’s own regiment in the Great War, the Newfoundland Regiment. It served at Gallipoli in 1915 and then on the Western Front from 1916 onwards. It’s memorials take the form of a bronze Caribou, a native animal of Newfoundland, which overlooks the site of the action it commemorates. There are five such memorials located on the Western Front and this Caribou… Read More
The Ouvrage Froideterre was part of the defences built around Verdun in the late 1880s. It was added to a number of times before WW1 and then re-organised when the war started in 1914. The position was defended by two twin machine-gun bunkers and a 75mm turret (seen above) along with a 75mm Bourges casemate. The position saw heavy fighting in 1916 and the ground around it smashed to pieces by shell-fire…. Read More
It is said that more than a thousands shells fell in every square metre of the Verdun battlefield in 1916 creating a vast crater zone, which is still visible on the battlefield nearly a century later. By the close of the fighting this battlefield had claimed more than 770,000 French and German casualties, and the French Poilus had called it ‘The Mincing Machine’. On this part of the battlefield at Abris 320… Read More
This German observation bunker is located on the Sundgau front in Alsace at the far end of the Western Front. It’s sits on rising ground in what was once Germany before 1914 and overlooks the site of the former French positions which ended here on the Swiss border close to the village of Pfetterhouse. This area saw fighting in the early period of the war and then settled down to static trench… Read More
The area known as Le Linge was actually part of Germany in 1914. French troops entered the mountains not just to take the fight to the Germans but to regain soil that they believed was French. During the heavy fighting in these rock-cut trenches in early 1915 there was more than 17,000 fatal casualties; a staggering toll. This part of the Western Front is very different to others and in some ways… Read More
The battlefield of Verdun was one of the great killing grounds of the First World War. Here France stood firm against a German attack, which cost both sides 770,000 casualties in 1916. It was said that more than 1,000 shells fell for every square metre of the Verdun battlefield, turning it into a vast crater-zone, a moonscape of shell holes, still visible a century later. This image was taken at dusk inMarch… Read More
The village war memorial in Thiaucourt-Regniéville bears a striking bronze showing a soldier of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) shaking hands with a French soldier, a Poilu. This recalls the occasion during the fighting for the St Mihiel Salient in 1918 when Americans and Frenchmen fought side by side. The War Memorial shows sign of battle damage from the fighting in this area in 1940 and 1944.
A Belgian archaeologists carefully cleans a clip of British .303-inch bullets from the First World War. These were found during a dig at the Belgian town of Messines, in Flanders, in 2012 which featured in Channel 5’s WW1 Tunnels of Death. Items like this are found every year and are still potentially dangerous; they should always be left well alone.
This German trench, dating from 1916, was unearthed during a major excavation by ADeDe archaeologists lead by Simon Verdeghem in 2012. The dig featured in Channel 5’s WW1 Tunnels of Death. The trench links into a large German dugout dating from the same period. The small recesses on the right were for hand grenades; one was still full of German Stick Grenades when uncovered. This is the deepest evert intact trench excavated on… Read More
Located south of Soissons in the Aisne, this German cemetery has 9,229 indivudal burials of which thirteen are unknown. There are large ‘mass graves’ in the cemetery, containing a further 5,557 burials, of which 4,779 are unknown. Taken on a Canon EOS 400D at sunset in March 2010.