WW1 Revisited

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The Voie Sacrée, or the ‘Sacred Way’, was a road running from Bar le Duc, a major railhead behind the front, and the forward battle zone at Verdun. In 1916 it was realised that the defence of Verdun by the French Army rested on its ability to resupply the front with men, ammunition, food and equipment. The road ran for 72km and operated night and day with thousands of men and vehicles moving up… 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

There are a large number of German First World War cemeteries in the Vosges area of the Western Front, many of them containing original features or even contemporary headstones. The cemetery at Illfurth, located on a hillside amongst the woods above the town, was a cemetery started by the Germans when this ground was part of Germany in 1914. At that time the men buried here would have been interred on what… Read More

The sight of front-line barbed wire remains a powerful image of the Great War. In the early stage of the war the use of so-called ‘Chevaux de Frise‘ (or knife-rests as they were known by the British) enabled soldiers to prepare barbed wire defences behind the lines and bring them up, putting them in place at night. Being portable they could also be moved. Few survive intact but this section is part of… Read More

The Western Front ran for more 450 miles from the Belgian coast to the Swiss Border. At the Belgian end the trenches petered out in the sand dunes near to the Belgian town of Nieuport. Soldier-author Charles Douie fought in the area with the 1st Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment in 1917 and left this description of the sector: Nieuport was not greatly different from other towns lying in the near vicinity of the… Read More

Small French battlefield cemeteries are rarer than the British ones on the Western Front as most battlefield cemeteries were concentrated into larger burial grounds in the 1920s. This small battlefield cemetery is close to the village of Chavannes les Grands in the Vosges and commemorates men from a French regiment who fought here in August 1914. Buried here are Lieutenant Paul Genairon and his comrades of the 260th Regiment of Infantry. On… Read More

Newfoundland was the smallest colony in the British Empire to raise it’s own regiment in the Great War, the Newfoundland Regiment. It served at Gallipoli in 1915 and then on the Western Front from 1916 onwards. It’s memorials take the form of a bronze Caribou, a native animal of Newfoundland, which overlooks the site of the action it commemorates. There are five such memorials located on the Western Front and this Caribou… 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

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