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
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
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
The trenches of the Western Front were protected by barbed wire – The Devil’s Rope – from early on in the war. This section of preserved barbed wire is in front of a French trench on the Champagne battlefields where heavy fighting took place in September 1915. Taken on a Nikon D7000 at the end of a bright spring day.
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
This tree-lined avenue runs from the high ground behind the old British positions which overlooked Messines Ridge in Flanders. It was tree-lined in 1914 and remains one of the few places that looks almost identical to what it was like a century ago. Photographed on a summer’s evening in 2013 with a Nikon D7000.
In the four years of the Great War in Flanders the British Army established camps all around Ypres, many of them containing permanent structures like these two shelter bunkers located on the former site of ‘ANZAC Camp’ south-west of the city of Ypres. The camp had been used by Australian and New Zealand troops during the Battle of Passchendaele, but the bunkers may date from early 1918.