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

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

This time of year, as the days get ever shorter, my mind goes back to the many winters I have spent on the Somme. During the very first temperatures mirrored those of the coldest winter of the Great War, when it dropped to nearly -25 in the front line area. For Western Europe that was cold, and it gave me renewed respect for the men who lived in those muddy, often snow-filled… 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

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

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

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