WW1 Revisited

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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

On this day in 2009 Great War veteran Harry Patch died aged an incredible 111 years. Often referred to as the ‘Last Fighting Tommy’, Harry Patch had served in Flanders with the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. He was the last surviving British soldier to have served in the trenches of the Western Front when he died and his face and voice have come to… 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

  In the streets of Sarajevo on this day a hundred years ago the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip stood up from beside a street cafe and emptied the contents of his automatic pistol into a car bearing Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, killing them both. The outrage over the murder of the heir to the Austrian throne would bring about the conflict that became the Great War, and was the first… 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 landscape of Flanders around the city of Ypres was covered with the remains of trenches when the war ended in 1918 but as the civilian population returned and reclaimed their land, gradually they disappeared. Original trenches can only be seen in a few locations around Ypres now but for new generations coming to the battlefields it is often hard to equate muddy ditches or shallow holes with what was once here…. Read More

Les Crapouillots was a satirical magazine during the Great War and also the name given to the Trench Mortar branch of the French Army by the Poilus in the trenches. This memorial in the village of Laffaux in the battlefields between Soissons and the Chemin des Dames commemorates 12,000 men of the unit who died on the Western Front. Constructed in the 1930s it was badly damaged in May 1940 during the… 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