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 by 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

Trenches that look anything like what they did a century ago are very rare but this site in the Champagne is quite amazing and has featured on this site before. This image was taken this week looking out across the fields where the fighting was very heavy in September 1915. A full article on this site will appear on WW1 Revisited this winter.

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

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

A century ago the fighting in the fields of the Marne close to Paris was in full swing. Nearly two and a half million British, French and German soldiers, with Colonial troops from the far flung corners of the French Empire, were locked in combat in what would be one of the most decisive battles of 1914 and arguably of the whole war. Historian Dan Snow has just released this excellent video… 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