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 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 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.
This huge memorial, the largest free-standing statue in France, is set in 40 acres of ground. Designed by architect Thomas Hastings, the sculptor was Frederick MacMonnies. It was unveiled in September 1932, some 14 years after the First Battle of the Marne in September 1914. Paid for by the American Friends of France, it was in recognition of this important turning point in the First World War and the stopping of the… 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.