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
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 Nieuport Memorial was unveiled in 1928 and commemorates more than 500 soldiers, and sailors of the Royal Naval Division, who died on the Northern End of the Western Front and in land operations in north Belgium close to Antwerp and have no known grave. The memorial was designed by noted architect, and Great War veteran, Charles Sergeant Jagger; the lions in particular a notable feature of his work. The memorial is… Read More
A February sunset over the Somme battlefields looking towards Courcelette British Cemetery where Canadian soldiers fought in September 1916. Taken on a Nikon D7000.
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.
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.