WW1 Revisited

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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

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

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

” A ridge more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth!” C.E.W. Bean The Pozières Ridge was the scene of heavy fighting between July and September 1916 when Australian, British and later Canadian troops pushed the Germans back over what was the highest point on the 1916 Somme battlefields. On the nearby Pozières Windmill, which sites on the Ridge, an inscription reads: “The ruin of Pozières windmill which lies… Read More

Standing like some of neolithic monument with the backdrop of an autumn sunset, this concrete British Observation Post bunker is one of two located on the road between the villages of Auchonvillers and Mesnil on the Somme. They were built before the Battle of the Somme to allow Staff Officers a clear view towards the front lines at Beaumont-Hamel and Thiepval and were in use when the battle started on 1st July 1916…. Read More

The village of Sommepy in the Champagne battlefields was behind the German front line for most of the war until the ruins of it were taken by American troops from the American Expeditionary Force in September 1918. This archway, which was once part of the entrance to a large chateau, is the only remaining structure from the pre-1914 days still standing in the village. It is peppered with shell impact marks and… Read More

Located within the St Mihiel American Cemetery is an imposing stone statue of an American ‘Doughboy‘ – in fact an American officer dressed in the uniform worn by US troops here in 1918. The text on the memorial reads: Blessed are they that have the home longing for they shall go home. The memorial was placed in the cemetery by Harriet Beale, whose son Walker Beale is interred here. 1st Lieutenant Walker Blaine Beale served… Read More

The Tranchée de Calonne, despite it’s name, was not actually a trench: tranchée being the French for trench. Instead it was a long road running for more than 25km through the wooded area south-east of Verdun into what became known as the Saint Mihiel Salient. The area saw heavy fighting from September 1914 and some of the earliest trenches used by the French Army were dug among the trees here. French writer Alain… Read More

By the close of the Great War the French Army had lost more than 1.4 million dead: their burials are scattered across more than 350 mile of the Western Front occupied by French forces. In the Department of the Aisne the cemeteries are very evident between Soissons and Reims, and this one at Braine, taken in early evening light on a bright March day, commemorates the dead from operations on the Aisne… 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

The Tranchée des Bavarois, or Bavarian Trench, was part of a German system of trenches in the St Mihiel Salient, south of Verdun. The positions here were strengthened from 1915 onwards and a large number of concrete structures put in place, from concrete lined firing positions in the trenches to infantry shelters and mortar and machine-gun posts. This bunker was made by a Bavarian Pioneer company in 1915/16 and sheltered men from… 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