PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Universal WW I Photos



The vivid images portray Australian and New Zealand soldiers wielding guns and bogged down in muddy trenches, to candid snaps of diggers enjoying their down time around a fire all across Europe during some of WWI's fiercest battles.Dr Benjamin Thomas, Art curator at Trinity college at the University of Melbourne, has converted dozens of stunning photos, bringing the faces and struggles of WWI into the 21st Century.While 'The Digger's View. WWI in Colour' is a book that gives a new pictorial approach to the war. The collaboration between Juan Mahony and Kent Rowe Digital Print, has resulted in a unique and fresh look at Australia and the Great War. Both provide fascinating looks at one of the most dramatic times in Australian military history. In one picture, a group of Australian soldiers are seen sitting around three captured German soldiers, tending to their wounds as one of the injured men stares directly into the camera.Troops are also pictured near the troop encampment near Cairo, Egypt, as massive pyramids are splashed in the background.Dr Thomas said he choose the pictures from state libraries and archives across the world and uses Photoshop to layer colours on top of the black and white image. 'In a lot of the images I chose it's those very little moments in time, those social moments that we have but you don’t seem to associate with your grandparents or great-grandparents,' he said. 'In colour it suddenly seems like it was yesterday.' 
Juan Mahony's 'The Digger's View. WWI in Colour' is a book that gives a unique and fresh look at Australia and the Great War as this image from it shows Juan Mahony's 'The Digger's View. WWI in Colour' is a book that gives a unique and fresh look at Australia and the Great War as this image from it shows SLIDE ME 
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Troops are pictured telling stories to each other during an evening away from the front line in this picture from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' Troops are pictured telling stories to each other during an evening away from the front line in this picture from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'
The sprawling Australian encampment near Cairo, Egypt, in the early months of 1915 is captured in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' The sprawling Australian encampment near Cairo, Egypt, in the early months of 1915 is captured in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'
Australian troops are pictured in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour', wearing protective gas masks as they stand on the muddy ground on the front line of battle Australian troops are pictured in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour', wearing protective gas masks as they stand on the muddy ground on the front line of battle SLIDE ME 
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Australian troops in the Turkish Lone Pine trenches, captured on the afternoon of the 6 August 1915. The soldier at centre back (pictured second from right) is thought to be Private Joseph Clark, of Victoria, an 18-year-old bootmaker Australian troops in the Turkish Lone Pine trenches, captured on the afternoon of the 6 August 1915. The soldier at centre back (pictured second from right) is thought to be Private Joseph Clark, of Victoria, an 18-year-old bootmaker
Boats filled with soldiers are tied together as they make their way from land back to the ship in a photo from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' Boats filled with soldiers are tied together as they make their way from land back to the ship in a photo from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'
Australian troops line up with the national flag for a portrait in front of a decimated building in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' Australian troops line up with the national flag for a portrait in front of a decimated building in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'
The new book also showed a trio of soldiers check bombs before they attach them to the underbelly of a war airplane The new book also showed a trio of soldiers check bombs before they attach them to the underbelly of a war airplane
Three Portuguese soldiers looking through the sights of their rifles in a trench in 1918 (pictured) Three Portuguese soldiers looking through the sights of their rifles in a trench in 1918 (pictured)
Australian soldiers dress the head wound of a fellow injured soldier using his first aid dressings (pictured) Australian soldiers dress the head wound of a fellow injured soldier using his first aid dressings (pictured)
Soldiers take a moment of down time during battle in their hollowed out trenches in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' book Soldiers take a moment of down time during battle in their hollowed out trenches in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' book
Four Australian soldiers walking along the duckboard track during the Third Battle of Ypres in September and October 1917 Four Australian soldiers walking along the duckboard track during the Third Battle of Ypres in September and October 1917
Members of the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion outside their billets in the Cavalry Barracks (pictured) Members of the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion outside their billets in the Cavalry Barracks (pictured)
Soldiers stand in line on a cobblestone street with their weapons balanced on their left shoulder in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour' Soldiers stand in line on a cobblestone street with their weapons balanced on their left shoulder in 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'
The new book also contains an image of diggers as they all turn to the camera for a moment of relief in the trenches. A makeshift white cross can be seen near a wooden door frame The new book also contains an image of diggers as they all turn to the camera for a moment of relief in the trenches. A makeshift white cross can be seen near a wooden door frame
A mortar emplacement manned by soldiers in the West Yorkshire Regiment on February 6, 1918 (pictured) A mortar emplacement manned by soldiers in the West Yorkshire Regiment on February 6, 1918 (pictured)
Gunners in the Royal Field Artillery moving an 18 pound gun into firing position next to a ruined home during the Battle of Lys in May 1918 (pictured) Gunners in the Royal Field Artillery moving an 18 pound gun into firing position next to a ruined home during the Battle of Lys in May 1918 (pictured)
Soldiers carrying empty sandbags to the front line, walking past the remains of a German outlook which was nicknamed 'Gibraltar' by Australian (pictured) Soldiers carrying empty sandbags to the front line, walking past the remains of a German outlook which was nicknamed 'Gibraltar' by Australian (pictured)
Australian sailors stand looking on as a group hoist the national flag in an image from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'  Australian sailors stand looking on as a group hoist the national flag in an image from 'The Digger's View: WWI in Colour'  West Indian troops stacking eight-inch shells at a dump in Ypres in October 1917 (pictured)West Indian troops stacking eight-inch shells at a dump in Ypres in October 1917 (pictured)German medical officer Lt Schnelling (pictured left) of the 14th Bavarian Regiment was detailed to work with the wounded German soldiers treated by New Zealand ambulances on the front lines German medical officer Lt Schnelling (pictured left) of the 14th Bavarian Regiment was detailed to work with the wounded German soldiers treated by New Zealand ambulances on the front lines
A major and lieutenant in the Australian Flying Corps in a Bristol fighter aircraft (pictured)

A major and lieutenant in the Australian Flying Corps in a Bristol fighter aircraft (pictured)




File:Battle of Messines - destroyed German trench.jpg

German trench destroyed by a mine explosion, above. Right photo, British 18 pounder battery taking up new positions near Boesinghe, 31 July
File:18pdrBoesinghe31July1917.jpg 
Christina Broom auction
Passchendaele: BATTLE OF The Messines Ridge near Ypres

Albert, Somme, France..Although behind the Allied lines in the battle of the Somme, Albert suffered heavy bombardment. The statue of the Virgin and child was almost dislodged from its spire. It was said that if the statue fell that the Allies would lose the war. Of course it hung at a crazyangle throughout the war but never fell.
Passchendaele

Reflected glory: A peaceful pond is what remains today of the craters made by massive mines on the Messines Ridge near Ypres. Their explosion was heard in London
Reflected glory: A peaceful pond is what remains today of the craters made by massive mines on the Messines Ridge near Ypres. Their explosion was heard in London

  
Private Bert Camp
 Private Bert Camp, pictured here before the Great War, kept a remarkable record of his harrowing service on the Western Front including graphic details of terrible slaughter. The fighting was so bloody it's often said Britain's pre-war professional army died there. Battle raged at Ypres for six weeks in October and November 1914, leaving 7,960 of our troops dead, 29,562 wounded and 17,873 missing. Most survivors were content to say they'd been at 'First Ypres', no more information being necessary to explain what they endured. Among them was Private Bert Camp, who throughout his life kept a dignified silence about his harrowing experiences. But after his death it emerged that he had kept a diary which gives a vivid first hand account of the carnage. Soon after his arrival at Ypres, Private Hope, then aged 25 and a carriage driver with the Royal Horse Artillery, records an early British success: 'It was murder, as we could see the shells bursting from where we were and they were tearing holes into the ranks of the German infantry. Still they came on. 'Their idea was to "rush the guns." But nothing doing, as they had no artillery with them. We shortened our range and gave it to them for all we were worth.' But the next day fortunes were reversed, with he and his comrades having a 'baptism of fire' as the Allies came under bombardment. 'The Germans started shelling ... and for two hours we had a lively time of it. Horses were getting killed and wounded, also drivers and gunners,' he wrote.
'One team of black horses and the three drivers were smashed up into a pulp as a shell burst in right amongst them. And I shall never forget the sight when the smoke cleared away, you couldn’t recognize anybody as the flesh of the man was mixed up with the horse. 'I was wheel driver then of "A" sub section gun team, my riding horse had his nose blown off and was still alive. 'I shot him and put him out of his agony quickly and put a gunner’s horse in his place. Then the hand centre horse of our team got hit broadside and we had to shoot him.
'One fellow, a bombardier, was hit in the thigh and had three fingers blown off and a piece of shell in his head. As I lifted him up all the blood off the stretcher ran down and over me like a spray bath. 'Two more fellows went mad and, in all, we had 17 men killed and wounded and about 30 horses killed or had to be shot.
Private Bert Camp
'At 4.30pm, we had the order to get out of it and we limbered up the guns and got away, some gunners riding astride the muzzle. The Germans shelled us all the way for three miles.' With extraordinary understatement, Pte Camp summed up the day of horror at Passchendaele saying: 'That was our first real baptism of fire. But I’m pleased to say that every man did his work right up until we came away.' Pte Camp’s artillery battery moved on to shell the village of Whyschate, which had been taken by the Germans. He wrote: 'The Germans had created havoc in this village. They had taken all the food and all the beer in the place, cut up the children’s clothing and, we were told, that they had sent all the men away and had raped the women. In fact, the women seemed half demented with fright.' Private Hope, who first signed up for military service at 17, was later injured in fighting near the Flanders town of Zonebeke. He wrote: 'I was going up to bring my gun out of action when my horse got killed and I was wounded in the arm and leg. I was pulled out from underneath my horse and taken down on a stretcher.
Horse-drawn water cart at Ypres: The first battle lasted from October 31, 1914, until November 22 and involved the French, Belgian, British armies taking on the Germans. The total number of soldiers killed, wounded or missing was 296,272
Horse-drawn water cart at Ypres: The first battle lasted from October 31, 1914, until November 22 and involved the French, Belgian, British armies taking on the Germans. The total number of soldiers killed, wounded or missing was 296,272
Ypres
'Murder': British troops, pictured marching near Ypres, killed Germans with ease at that particular battle according to the diary. 'I woke up in a convent hospital in Ypres. The place was full of wounded, officers and men together. I didn’t feel much of my injuries at the time as it was numbed I must either have been stunned by the fall of the horse, or else I fainted.' He was evacuated back to 'Blighty' and after six weeks recovering reported back for duty - only to be told he had been wrongly listed as 'killed in action'. By January 1915, he was back on the front line. He was wounded again when he was hit in the leg, but nine weeks later was back in action yet again.
The first stage in the British plan was a preparatory attack on the German positions south of Ypres at Messines ridge. These German positions dominated Ypres and unless neutralised, would be able to enfilade any British attack eastwards from the salient. The British advance began on 7 June and was preceded by a unique display of military pyrotechnics. Since mid-1915, the British had been covertly digging mines under the German positions on the Messines Ridge. By June 1917 21 mines had been dug, filled with nearly 1,000,000 lb (450,000 kg) of explosives. The Germans knew the British were mining and had taken some countermeasures but they were surprised by the extent of the mining. Two of the British mines failed to detonate but the remaining 19 were fired on 7 June at 3:10 a.m. British Summer Time. The final objectives were largely gained before dark. British losses in the morning were light, although the plan had expected casualties of up to 50% in the initial attack. As the infantry advanced over the back edge of the ridge, giving targets to German artillery and machine-guns, British artillery was less able to provide covering fire.[69]Fighting continued on the lower slopes, on the east side of the ridge until 14 June.[70] The attack prepared the way for the main attack later in the summer, by removing the Germans from the dominating ground on the southern face of the Ypres salient, that they had held for two years
They are a hidden maze of tunnels where a bloody underground war was played out in terrifying darkness and where the bodies of 28 heroes lie entombed forever. Now, after lying practically undisturbed since troops laid down their arms in 1918 and just days before Remembrance Sunday, the secrets and tragedies of the labyrinth are finally being revealed thanks to work by archaeologists. Since January, the Anglo-French La Boiselle Study Group has been working with historians to open up and explore the tunnels to discover more about the lives of the men lost in them.
Heroes: Tunnelling Company workers pictured together at the Somme in 1916. Twenty-eight tunnellers died at La Boisselle
Heroes: Tunnelling Company workers pictured together at the Somme in 1916. Twenty-eight tunnellers died at La Boisselle.The passages, named the Glory Hole by British troops, run under and around the sleepy village of La Boisselle in northern France, which was of huge strategic importance to the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The infamous four-month battle claimed the lived of millions, including 420,000 British soldiers - all for just a few yards of territory.Twenty eight Britain tunnellers died in the passages between August 1915 and April 1916 and their bodies now lie permanently buried within the collapsed tunnel walls.
Flanders fields today bears little sign of the four years of war that claimed so many thousands of lives and ravaged this small corner of the Western Front. But further down, deep below the surface there remains a constant reminder of the bravery and daring of the men who risked their lives for their country.Beneath the farmers ploughs, most of the tunnels and dug-outs hewn from the earth by English pitmen to literally undermine the German offensive remain intact, untouched for almost 100 years.
They were also the scene of fierce hand-to-hand combat between diggers from both armies, as portrayed in the Sebastian Faulks novel Birdsong.
The tunnel sealed off by British troops during the First World War was excavated in 1997 and found to be intact
The tunnel sealed off by British troops during the First World War was excavated in 1997 and found to be intact
Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle discovered that the tunnels had flooded, but remained intact in the 80 years after the First World War
Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle discovered that the tunnels had flooded, but remained intact in the 80 years after the First World War. The British Tunneling Companies were formed in the early months of the war to counter the German miners who were blowing British trenches from shallow underground workings. Pitmen from mining communities in Wales and the north and the ‘clay-kickers’ who built the London Underground and the Manchester sewers were recruited, some from infantry battalions others direct from civilian life. Not only did, they offered vital support to the war effort, providing protected shelter for the troops.
By the time Armistice came the secret underground army had dug mile after mile of tunnel and hundreds of deep dug-outs designed to house headquarters, hospitals, stores and men.

The excavation uncovered a number items that had belonged to German soldiers such as bottles, a shoe, digging tools and even a gun and some bullets
The excavation uncovered a number items that had belonged to German soldiers such as bottles, a shoe, digging tools and even a gun and some bullets
Still intact: Another shot of the items discovered in the tunnel, seen from another angle - spades presumably used to carve out the tunnel can be seen on the left
Still intact: Another shot of the items discovered in the tunnel, seen from another angle - spades presumably used to carve out the tunnel can be seen on the left
Leftovers: A close up of the various items discovered in the tunnel, including a shoe and some bottles
Leftovers: A close up of the various items discovered in the tunnel, including a shoe and some bottles. These never seen before images of one of the tunnels were taken by British photographer Jeff Moore during an excavation with tunnelling engineer Johan Wanderwalle in 1997. And the story behind the tunnel found by Mr Wanderwalle echoes the action in Birdsong, an adaptation of which is currently being screened by the BBC.
The tunnel was being dug by British troops to undermine the Germans who were diggning in the opposite direction, Mr Moore told Mail Online. But the German soldiers realized what was happening and changed course and dug into the clay-kickers’ tunnel before the British troops had a chance to lay explosives.
Dramatised: A still from BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' classic novel Birdsong showing British troops in the tunnel
Dramatised: A still from BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks' classic novel Birdsong showing British troops in the tunnel
In the novel Birdsong, Stephen Wraysford (played by Eddie Redmayne, pictured, in the current BBC adaptation) is trapped by an explosion in an underground tunnel
In the novel Birdsong, Stephen Wraysford (played by Eddie Redmayne, pictured, in the current BBC adaptation) is trapped by an explosion in an underground tunnel
This picture, taken in 1915, shows diggers making a bore-hole for a secondary chamber, intended to cause the enemy tunnel to fall in
This picture, taken in 1915, shows diggers making a bore-hole for a secondary chamber, intended to cause the enemy tunnel to fall in
There was an underground fight before the British soldiers pulled out and sealed up the tunnel. Such fighting was not uncommon. With so much mining activity being carried out by both sides, detection and breakthrough into each others tunnelling systems occurred frequently.
For this purpose the British diggers prepared a 'camouflet', a pre-prepared charge which was always ready during tunnelling.
If that wasn't detonated, vicious hand-to-hand fighting with picks, shovels and wood used as makeshift weapons might take place.
The restrictions and conditions of the underground tunnels meant the miners could not use their rifles. If the opposing side were unsuccessful in repelling an attack, then enemy tunnels could be used for short periods to observe enemy tunnelling activity and direction. During the 1997 excavation Mr Wanderwalle found a number of items belonging to the Germans - as well as the bodies of four dead soldiers. Mr Wanderwalle said: ‘Above ground everything was cleaned up and re-built after the war and there is no sign that anything happened here but once you get underground you find everything just as it was all those years ago.’
'My first one was in 1990. No one had done it before then so my friends and I had to learn how to work underground. The entrances were filled up with earth and rubbish after the war so you have to carefully dig them out.
Haunting: Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle stands inside the water logged tunnel which he explored with photographer Jeff Moore 15 years ago
Haunting: Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle stands inside the water logged tunnel which he explored with photographer Jeff Moore 15 years ago
'Once you get past the entrance you find everything is as it had just been left, as if it had just happened. The waters came in and flooded it and preserved everything just as if it was yesterday.
'I have done so many now I can look at the entrance to a tunnel and I know by the way the timbers are arranged which of the Tunnelling Companies built it but inside everyone is different, you never know what you'll find.'
One of the first World War survivors who was involved in protecting the tunnels first hand was Albert 'Smiler' Marshall who was serving in the trenches with the Essex Yeomanry in 1915 when he was caught in a mine blast.
Remnants of war: Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle holds a rifle found in the tunnel
Remnants of war: Tunnel engineer Johan Wanderwalle holds a rifle found in the tunnel
Collect of Smiler Marshall Portrait of Smiler Marshall
Albert 'Smiler' Marshall was serving in the trenches with the Essex Yeomanry in 1915 when he was caught in a mine blast - he was found after singing Nearer My God To Thee
THE UNDERGROUND EFFORT
Royal Engineer tunnelling companies were specialist units of the Corps of Royal Engineers within the British Army, formed to dig attacking tunnels under enemy lines during the First World War. The stalemate situation in the early part of the war led to the deployment of tunnel warfare. After the first German Empire attacks on 21 December 1914, through shallow tunnels underneath no man’s land and exploding ten mines under the trenches of the Indian Sirhind Brigade, the British began forming suitable units.
In February 1915, eight Tunnelling Companies were created and operational in Flanders from March 1915. By mid-1916, the British Army had around 25,000 trained tunnellers, mostly taken from coal mining communities. Almost twice that number of ‘attached infantry’ worked permanently alongside the trained miners to carry out grunt work. From the spring of 1917 the war became more mobile, with grand offensives at Arras, Messines and Passchendaele.
The tactics and counter-tactics required deeper and deeper tunnelling, so offensive and defensive military mining largely ceased. Underground work continued, though, with the tunnellers concentrating on deep dugouts for troop accommodation, a tactic used particularly in the Battle of Arras. His experience was not dissimilar to that of Stephen Wraysford, the character from Sebastian Faulk novel Birdsong, who gets caught up in a blast from underground mines with his friend, a tunneller called Jack Firebrace. In an interview before he passed away 'Smiler' said: ‘We knew there was tunnelling going on around and about because our engineers were working there and we used to help them with carrying parties and protection and that sort of thing.
'Somehow or other our intelligence got to know there was a German mine underneath us and when they were going to blow it up we came out of that section of trench but we didn't come out far enough because we didn't know exactly the spot where it was or how much explosive they had. 'There was this terrific bang and it made a damn great crater you could drop a house into and two of our chaps got buried there. Others got buried with just their two legs, some were up to their waist and one had only just got his head out.
'I got hit. I'd have been alright if I hadn't fell down only there was so much dirt came down on us it knocked me on my back and as I laid on my back in the trench my leg got trapped and I couldn't move it.
'Eventually it settled down a bit and someone shouted “is Smiler alright?”, so I shouted out that I'm quite alright but I can't move and I'm lying on my back in the trench and I've got to wait 'till someone comes to dig me out.
'The voice was shouting "tell him to sing" so that was how they found me, lying down there singing Nearer My God To Thee. Two men were buried completely and that was their grave, we didn't have time to bury them properly.'
Smiler's comrades joined the list of 54,896 ‘missing; British soldiers who still lie in the fields in Ypres, their names recorded on the nearby Menin Gate, their bodies obliterated by shellfire or hastily interred in shallow graves and never found by the burial parties on their grim rounds after the war.
Discovery: The 'Birdsong tunnel' was explored by Jeff Moore and Johan Wanderwalle in 1997
Discovery: The 'Birdsong tunnel' was explored by Jeff Moore and Johan Wanderwalle in 1997

French soldier's metal drinking cupMargarine tin issued as part of the ration
Finds: A French soldier's metal drinking cup, left, and a margarine tin issued as part of the ration were found
File:Chateau Wood Ypres 1917.jpgAustralian gunners on a duckboard track in Château Wood near Hooge, 29 October 1917.
German soldiers of the 111th Reserve Infantry Regiment. The lips thrown up by the mine craters can be seen behind them
At war: German soldiers of the 111th Reserve Infantry Regiment. The lips thrown up by the mine craters can be seen behind them
THE TUNNELS
  • Three feet wide
  • Made of chalk
  • Ran under land a quarter of a mile square
  • Nick named the Glory Hole
  • It is thought there are four miles of tunnels, belonging to the French, German and Brits
Most were a mining 'elite' sent from collieries across Britain, but never returned home. One victim was Sapper John Lane, 45, from Tipton in Staffordshire, a married father-of-four killed along with four others 80ft underground on 22 November 1915. His great-grandson, Chris Lane, 45, from Redditch in Worcestershire, said he had been gripped to learn about his relative’s fate, the BBC said in June. BBC journalist Robert Hall was among the first people to venture into the newly opened tunnels, many of which run up to 100ft deep. He has documented his account in the Daily Mirror. From bottles of drink and tins of food, graffiti, helmets, picks and bits of shrapnel, he discovered all sorts of eerie reminders of these lesser known heroes of the Great War.
A camera getting ready for its descent down the 50 foot W-shaft
A camera getting ready for its descent down the 50 foot W-shaft. Archaeologists have been working on the site since January
British .303 rifle ammunition Toothbrush
Discoveries: British .303 rifle ammunition and the heads of tooth brushes were found inside the passages. Almost 90 years ago the passages would have been full of tunnellers digging, laying explosives, and bringing soil to the surface aided by a recently discovered small railway - all with the Germans often just yards away doing exactly the same. Mr Hall wrote of the tunnels: 'The first thing that strikes you is how untouched they look.' A poem scrawled on a wall he passed read: 'If in this place you are detained; Don’t look around you all in vain; But cast your net and you will find; That every cloud is silver lined.'
British shovel, smaller type carried by infantrymen. Below: Special strengthened pick used by the miners
Top: A British shovel carried by infantrymen and below special strengthened pick used by the miners. This is how the village became strategically important. On 28 September 1914 the German advance was halted by French troops at La Boisselle. The two sides fought for the possession of the civilian cemetery and farm buildings. In December that year, French engineers began tunnelling under the ruins which sparked the prolonged battle below ground lasting until 1916. Both sides tried to probe underneath each other's trenches, setting off explosives to undermine fortifications, working at a depth of about 12 metres. The British Tunneling Companies sent in miners to deepen these tunnels and crater system to 30 metres while above ground infantry occupied trenches just 45 metres apart. At the start of the Battle of the Somme La Boisselle stood on the main axis of British attack. To aid the attack the British placed two huge mines, known as Y Sap and Lochnagar, on either flank, but they failed to neutralise the German defences in the village.
Now: Archaeologists will have their work cut out for them to return the overgrown Cannock Chase area to its former replica model of the Messines terrain battlefield
Now: Archaeologists will have their work cut out for them to return the overgrown Cannock Chase area to its former replica model of the Messines terrain battlefield.
The Battle of Messines took place on the Western Front in June 1917 in Belgium, around the village of Mesen
The Battle of Messines took place on the Western Front in June 1917 in Belgium, around the village of Messines. The village was eventually captured from the Germans on July 4.Military mining was key to tactics of both the Allies and the Germans during the conflict with tunnellers digging and laying explosives to undermine each other's fortifications. During the 1917 Battle of Messines, 10,000 Germans were killed after 455 tons of explosive was planted in 21 tunnels. And, two years earlier, in October 1915, 179 Tunnelling Company began to sink a series of deep shafts to try and stop German miners approaching beneath the British front line. At a location known as W Shaft they went down from 30 feet to 80 feet and began to drive two counter-mine tunnels towards the Germans.  But they heard sounds of German digging getting louder and explosives were prepared and planted. Company Commander Captain Henry Hance spent six hours listening and worked out the Germans were 15 yards away. However, 24 hours later the Germans set off their own explosives, which detonated the British charge too. Carbon monoxide gas was released by the huge explosion proving fatal for the tunnellers working underground. Four bodies were found; William Walker, Andrew Taylor, James Glen and Robert Gavin. The bodies of two other men from Staffordshire, John Lane and Ezekiel Parkes, were never found. Military historian Simon Jones, from the University of Birmingham, has studied the tunnellers of the 179th and 185th Tunnelling Companies and following seven years of research, learned who they were and how and when they died.
British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench before advancing during the Battle of the Somme on the first day of battle in 1916
British infantrymen occupying a shallow trench before advancing during the Battle of the Somme on the first day of battle in 1916 heights at Passchendaele. The front line was mostly the same as the one occupied by the
One of the German trenches in Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme. The battle began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died
One of the German trenches in Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme. The battle began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died
THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME 
The Battle of the Somme took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 in the Somme area of France. The battle consisted of an offensive by the British and French armies against the German Army, which, since invading France in August 1914, had occupied large areas of that country. The Allies gained little ground over the four month battle - just five miles in total by the end. The battle is controversial because of the tactics employed and is significant as tanks were used for the first time. On the first day of fighting the British lost more than 19,000 men and 420,000 in total. Sixty per cent of all officers involved on the first day were killed. By the time fighting ceased there were more than 1 million casualties, including 650,000 Germans. He studied letters, maps and records as well as tunnel plans and diaries to uncover the truth about the deaths. The number of German tunnellers killed remains unclear. Mr Jones told Mr Hall: 'What comes across is the human endeavour. 'And the fact these men, most of them volunteers from Britain's coal mines, were a breed apart, and regarded themselves as an elite.' Military historian Peter Barton told Mr Hall: 'It's been a moving experience for us all.'
Owners of the site, the Lejeune family, decided to let archaeologists into the site in January. It is hoped the area will be preserved once work is completed. The project is the first of its kind on the Western Front and has been officially sanctioned by the French archaeological authorities. It is envisaged that work may continue for up to fifteen years.
Today: A general view of a trench system in Newfoundland park at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme, France
Today: A general view of a trench system in Newfoundland park at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme, France, once a bloody battlefield

Manchester Hill Memorial to The Manchester Regiment

In March 1918, the German Army launched an all-out offensive in the Somme sector. Faced with the prospect of continued American reinforcement of the Allied armies, the Germans urgently sought a decisive victory on the Western Front.
On the morning of 21 March, the 16th Manchesters occupied positions in an area known as Manchester Hill, near to St. Quentin. A large German force attacked along the 16th's front, being repulsed in parts, but completely overwhelming the battalion elsewhere. Some positions lost were recaptured in counter-attacks by the 16th. Though encircled, the 16th continued to resist the assault, encouraged by its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob. During the course of the battle, Elstob single-handedly repulsed a grenadier attack and made a number of journeys to replenish dwindling ammunition supplies. At one point, he sent a message to Brigade that "The Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last", to his men he had told them "Here we fight, and here we die".
The 16th Manchesters effectively ceased to exist as a coherent body. Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. An attempt to retake the hill was later made by the 17th Manchesters with heavy losses. Two more Victoria Crosses were awarded to the regiment in the final months of the war
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Epehy Wood Farm cemetery

The village of Epehy was captured at the beginning of April 1917. It was lost on 22 March 1918 after a spirited defence by the Leicester Brigade of the 21st Division and the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers. It was retaken (in the Battle of Epehy) on 18 September 1918, by the 7th Norfolks, 9th Essex and 1st/1st Cambridgeshires of the 12th (Eastern) Division.
The cemetery takes its name from the Ferme du Bois, a little to the east. Plots I and II were made by the 12th Division after the capture of the village, and contain the graves of officers and men who died in September 1918 (or, in a few instances, in April 1917 and March 1918). Plots III-VI were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields surrounding Epehy and the following smaller cemeteries:-
DEELISH VALLEY CEMETERY, EPEHY, in the valley running from South-West to North-East a mile East of Epehy village. It contained the graves of 158 soldiers from the United Kingdom (almost all of the 12th Division) who fell in September, 1918. EPEHY NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, on the South side of the village, contained the graves of 100 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in August, 1917-March, 1918 and in September, 1918.
EPEHY R.E. CEMETERY, 150 yards North of the New British Cemetery. It contained the graves of 31 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in April-December, 1917, and of whom 11 belonged to the 429th Field Company, Royal Engineers.
The cemetery now contains 997 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 235 of the burials are unidentified but there are additional special memorials to 29 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to two casualties buried in Epehy New British Cemetery, whose graves could not be found when that cemetery was concentrated. 

Trench footprint: The still pockmarked landscape of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme where the Newfoundland Regiment were decimated by German machine guns
The Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres or "Passchendaele") was a campaign of theFirst World War, fought by the British and their allies against the German empire. The battle took place on the Western Front, between June and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders, as part of a strategy decided by the Allies at conferences in November 1916 and May 1917. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Rouselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the German Fourth Army. The next stage of the Allied strategy was an advance to Torhout – Couckelaere, to close the German-controlled railway running through Roeselare and Torhout, which did not take place until 1918. Further operations and a British supporting attack along the Belgian coast from Nieuwpoort, combined with an amphibious landing, were to have reached Bruges and then the Dutch frontier. The resistance of the German Fourth Army, unusually wet weather, the onset of winter and the diversion of British and French resources to Italy, following the Austro-German victory at the Battle of Caporetto (24 October – 19 November) allowed the Germans to avoid a general withdrawal, which had seemed inevitable to them in October. The campaign ended in November when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele. In 1918 the Battle of the Lys and the Fifth Battle of Ypres, were fought before the Allies occupied the Belgian coast and reached the Dutch frontier.
A campaign in Flanders was controversial in 1917 and has remained so. British Prime MinisterLloyd George opposed the offensive as did GeneralFoch the French Chief of the General Staff. The British commander Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig did not receive approval for the Flanders operation from the War Cabinet until 25 July. Matters of dispute by the participants and writers and historians since the war have included: the wisdom of pursuing an offensive strategy in the wake of the failed Nivelle Offensive, rather than waiting for the arrival of the American armies in France; the choice of Flanders over areas further south or the Italian front; the climate and weather in Flanders; Haig's selection of General Hubert Gough and the Fifth Army to conduct the offensive; debates over the nature of the opening attack between advocates of shallow and deeper objectives; the passage of time between the Battle of Messines and the opening attack of the Battles of Ypres; the extent to which the internal troubles of the French armies motivated British persistence in the offensive; the effect of mud on operations; the decision to continue the offensive in October once the weather had broken, and the human cost of the campaign on the soldiers of the German and British armies
This was supposed to be the war to end all wars, although, of course, that wasn't how it turned out.World War I was eclipsed by the still greater conflict two decades on, but the mechanised slaughter in the trenches of Belgium and France broke the heart of a British generation and still resonates to this day. With nearly a million dead, representing the flower of young British manhood, the Great War shattered the nation.
Off to the front: Grim-faced relatives bid farewell at Waterloo Station to two soldiers from the Household Battalion in 1914
With his arms protectively around his family, a soldier poses with family members as he prepares to board a train to the front. The moment was captured by Britain's first female press photographer, Christina Broom
Christina Broom auction
Till we meet again: Trooper A.H. O'Conner bids au revoir to his sailor brother at Waterloo station in 1915. These heart-rending photographs show members of a 'lost generation' as they set off to do their duty for King and Country on the Western Front, where the life expectancy for soldiers was just three weeks. Among the images is a rare photograph which shows Rudyard Kipling's son John in uniform and wearing glasses. John had initially been refused a commission because of his poor eyesight, but his father pulled strings to ensure he eventually became an officer with the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards.
Just weeks afterwards, John was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915, his death prompting his father to write the immortal words: 'If any question why we died/Tell them, because our fathers lied.'John's death inspired Kipling's poem, My Boy Jack, and the incident became the basis for a play and its subsequent television adaptation, starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Christina Broom auction
Doomed: Not a single soldier from this Irish Guards machine-gun team, pictured in 1914, survived the horrific slaughter on the battlefield
Christina Broom auction
Stand by your bikes: The mobilised Household Battalion line up for inspection in 1916
Christina Broom auction
Order of the bath: Officers of the Household Battalion form a guard of honour at Richmond Camp in 1916. Almost as moving is a picture of a 14-strong machine-gun squad from the Irish Guards, proudly showing off their gleaming weapons. Not one of them survived the war. In another frame, two brothers, one in the Army another the Navy, bid farewell at Waterloo station. Did they ever see each other again?
Bermondsey B'hoys: A group of men from the Grenadier Guards sit behind a hastily-drawn sign
The Household Division
The war was three years old when this U.S. contingent arrived at Wellington Barracks, in London, in 1917 before heading out to the front
Larking around: The war had already been underway for nearly a year when these men gathered at Waterloo station to head off to the front
Christina Broom auction
At peace: Grenadier Guards celebrate Christmas Day 1915 at Chelsea Barracks
Here are young men whose faces brim with swagger, bound together by an intense camaraderie.Most thought that they would be coming home; this was a war, remember, which the politicians initially promised would be 'over by Christmas'. In fact, the majority fell in the mud and the blood of Loos, Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme, Vimy Ridge or the Marne.
And yet, looking into the eyes of this lost generation, it is clear that these brave souls - boys really, a lot of them - were little different to the lads who are once again making their way to foreign lands to do their duty, in the mud and sand of Afghanistan.
The world has changed almost unimaginably since these pictures were taken. And yet, sadly, war remains much the same.
GH Fleming2nd Battalion Irish Guards 
War hero: GH Fleming, left, was decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his coolness under fire while at Ypres where he was wounded. Right, officers from the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards pose for the camera in 1915
With masks to protect their faces, two soldiers practice their skills with the bayonet
Proud service: Indian officers return from the front and visit the Royal Mews in 1915
Tense wait: Grenadier guards waiting for their orders to ship out in 1914

Battle of Passchendaele

I'm sitting over here in this trench tonight
waiting for death and shrapnel to take what little I have
as our commanders try to lighten our spirits
but all I can think of is you.
They come with their tanks and their gas
and they can crush us with their charge
but what they can't overcome in this mud-filled hole
is my undying hope in you.
Each man I silence when they pour onto us
only pushes me farther away from your heart
Oh, with these hands bloody with souls
how can I ever reach for you?
but eventually the tide turns
and everyone who charged will lose their bravery
while they come running back to survival
although I anguish here with thoughts of you.
Each one of those desperate souls
who run wildly towards wire and machine-gun nest
has a woman who feels her chest tightening each night
just as the pulse heightens in you.
We are all killed off now and running low
as the last bullets take what's left of us
I can think of a French cafe on a Tuesday
where the candle light bounced off of you.
And your laugh could repel all this death
if only we could wheel it out here as a defense
but our commanders won't allow it
God in heaven, what I wouldn't give to be there with you.
Trench footprint: The still pockmarked landscape of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme where the Newfoundland Regiment were decimated by German machine guns
Metal detection: Mike St Maur Sheil's picture of the Somme battlefield today where farmers are still finding shells and war debris known as the 'Iron harvest'
Metal detection: Mike St Maur Sheil's picture of the Somme battlefield today where farmers are still finding shells and war debris known as the 'Iron harvest'
 
Monument: Grave of French soldier Edouard Ivaldi in Champagne. This is the only grave left from WW1 and still has Ivaldi's helmet marking the spot he fell in 1917
Monument: Grave of French soldier Edouard Ivaldi in Champagne. This is the only grave left from WW1 and still has Ivaldi's helmet marking the spot he fell in 1917
 
Crossfire: German cemetery at Le Linge near the Weiss valley which was attacked by the French in 1915. Today the German tranches are remarkably well preserved.
Crossfire: German cemetery at Le Linge near the Weiss valley which was attacked by the French in 1915. Today the German tranches are remarkably well preserved.
 
Laid to rest: German cemetery on the battlefield of Tete des Faux - the highest point on the Western Front. 10 million soldiers died in the conflict almost 100 years ago
Laid to rest: German cemetery on the battlefield of Tete des Faux - the highest point on the Western Front. 10 million soldiers died in the conflict almost 100 years ago
 
Ruins: The remains of the Chateau de Soupir after the village in northern France was cleared by elite British unit, the Brigade of Guards on the 14th September 1914
Ruins: The remains of the Chateau de Soupir after the village in northern France was cleared by elite British unit the Brigade of Guards on the 14th September 1914
 
Obliterated: Original site of the village of Butte de Vaquois which was destroyed between Feb 1915 and Feb 1918. American forces captured the hill on Sept 26 1918
Obliterated: Original site of the village of Butte de Vaquois which was destroyed between Feb 1915 and Feb 1918. American forces captured the hill on Sept 26 1918
 
Killing fields: An image of rich farmland at the Somme from a photographic collection showing how the battlefields of the Great War still shape today's landscape
Killing fields: An image of rich farmland at the Somme from a photographic collection showing how the battlefields of the Great War still shape today's landscape
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Terrain through which the Canadian Corps advanced at Passchendaele in late 1917.
The British Fifth Army undertook minor operations 20–22 October to maintain pressure on the Germans while the Canadian Corps prepared for their assault, as well as supporting the French attack at Malmaison. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps had been transferred to the Ypres Salient to capture Passchendaele and the ridge. The Canadian Corps relieved II Anzac Corps on 18 October from their positions along the valley between Gravenstafel Ridge and the 1st Canadian Division in April 1915. The Canadian Corps operation was to be executed in a series of three attacks each with limited objectives, delivered at intervals of three or more days. The dates of the phases were tentatively given as 26 October, 30 October and 6 November. The first stage began on the morning of 26 October. The 3rd Canadian Division captured Wolf Copse and secured its objective line and then swung back its northern flank to link up with the adjacent division of the British Fifth Army. The 4th Canadian Division captured its objectives but gradually retreated from Decline Copse due to German counter-attacks and communication failures between the Canadian and Australian units to the south. The second stage began on 30 October and was intended to complete the previous stage and gain a base for the final assault on Passchendaele. The southern flank quickly captured Crest Farm and sent patrols beyond its objective line and into Passchendaele. The northern flank again met with exceptional German resistance. The 3rd Canadian Division captured Vapour Farm on the Corps boundary, Furst Farm to the west of Meetcheele and the crossroads at Meetcheele but remained short of its objective.[138] During a seven-day pause, the British Second Army took over a section of the British Fifth Army front adjoining the Canadian Corps. Three rainless days from 3–5 November eased preparation for the next stage, which began on the morning of 6 November with the1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions. In fewer than three hours, many units had reached their final objectives and the village of Passchendaele had been captured. The Canadian Corps launched a final action on 10 November to gain control of the remaining high ground north of the village, in the vicinity of Hill 52. The attack on 10 November brought an end to the campaign
Aerial bombardment: The scarred landscape of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme taken from the air shows the wartime topography preserved after almost 100 years
Aerial bombardment: The scarred landscape of Beaumont Hamel on the Somme taken from the air shows the wartime topography preserved after almost 100 years

 

The Somme Road near High Wood.

Somme 1.7.1916

 

Battle of the Somme, the Attack of the Ulster Division by J P Beadle. Beadle's painting is one of a number displayed in the Ulster Tower, a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division. The Tower is located near to the Schwaben Redoubt, which the Division attacked on July 1, 1916, and is also close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.


Arras War Memorial 3. Clear evidence of fighting around the area of the monument,note holes in the side of the memorial. The damage to the French soldier on the monument is out of proportion to the damage on the rest of the memorial. Did the Germans desecrate this in World War 2?


British Front line,Serre,1916. This stretch of dirt road ,between Serre Road Cemetery number 3 (out of shot,over right shoulder) and Mark Luke and John Copses,is just about on the British front line trench in 1916. The trench came in from bottom left,roughly followed the stretch of roag until it reached the copses (about a third of the way in from the left of the trees.
It then took a dog leg to the right and followed the line of the front of the trees.
Needless to say,there were no trees in 1916.
German lines ran on the right of this picture,parrallel to the Britsih lines.


The Battle Forevermore

While lying safe on my bed
I felt a passion come over me.
Passchendaele: the battle of the dead.
I longed to know the story of number three.
The third battle, which held no end.
The first battle for the free.
The battle in which the great neutral came to defend
The lands which could not be saved,
It was the battle that could never end.
It was the battle for nothing.  No ground to be claimed.
The propaganda machine of the east
Marched against life to the battle of shame.
Passchendaele…how sweet the name yet fierce the beast
That held its ground while the river Styx
Flooded with those whose existence ceased.
The warriors climbed over the wall while their leaders slept in brick.
The soldiers rushed upon a magic
That had never been seen before.  Those pricks!
Those leaders who let men meet death, tragically,
By cannon fire.  Bullets rusted by the tears of the dead.
A wall of enemy fire met them tragically.
Still, they followed the command of their heads.
They did not question the commands aloud,
But silently in their heads.  They could smell death.
The great power was like the hound
That will attack until its master,
Or itself, is dead and six feet underground.
They kept coming, faster and faster,
The bullets that took the young men.
The allies attacked; again disaster.
Never had anyone been
In a war like this that took the lives of so many.
So many eighteen year old men.
To their deaths they took over the hill
The story of their days at Passchendaele.
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The Somme The Thiepval Memorial

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Prisoners rolling in from Les Boefs on the 25th September showing a tank in the distance. German prisoners march down the road towards the photographer, probably John Warwick Brooke. Some of the Germans are wounded and are being helped by their comrades. They are led by a British soldier with his rifle at the ready and bayonet fixed. Other British soldiers watch in the foreground. Tanks had been used in the war for the first time only ten days earlier on 15 September, 1916. The early tanks were cumbersome and often got stuck.

THE SOMME

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From the Somme fought in 1916 where over a million lost their lives to El Alamein in 1942, Richard Holmes' top British military victories

1 THE SOMME 1916

The most costly battle ever fought by the British Army, the Somme (below) lasted from July to November 1916. Britain and her Empire suffered almost 420,000 casualties, the French 204,000 and the Germans over 500,000. The battle was marked by the courage and inexperience of Britain's volunteer 'New Armies', the unfamiliarity of commanders with fighting on this scale, and German professionalism. Its first day, July 1, remains the bloodiest in British history - and there was no breakthrough. Yet the Allied assault aided the French at Verdun, probably keeping them in the war, and provoked the Germans into waging unrestricted submarine warfare, thus bringing the U.S. into the conflict. The Somme was far from being perfectly conceived or flawlessly executed, but in all its anguish, squalor and endurance, it is Britain's greatest battle. 
The Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme was the mostly costly battle ever fought by the British Army
Somme Offensive, took place during the First World Warbetween 1 July and 18 November 1916 on either side of theriver Somme in France. The battle saw the British Army, supported by contingents from British imperial territories, including Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Canada, India and South Africa, mount a joint offensive with theFrench Army against the German Army, which had occupied large areas of France since its invasion of the country in August 1914. The Battle of the Somme was one of the largestbattles of the war; by the time fighting paused in late autumn 1916, the forces involved had suffered more than 1 million casualties, making it one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded.
The plan for the Somme offensive evolved out of Allied strategic discussions at Chantilly, Oise in December 1915. Chaired by GeneralJoseph Joffre, the commander-in-chief of the French Army, Allied representatives agreed on a concerted offensive against the Central Powers in 1916 by the French, British, Italian and Russian armies. The Somme offensive was to be the Anglo-French contribution to this general offensive and was intended to create a rupture in the German line which could then be exploited with a decisive blow. With the Germanattack on Verdun on the River Meuse in February 1916, the Allies were forced to adapt their plans. The British Army took the lead on the Somme, though the French contribution remained significant.
The opening day of the battle saw the British Army suffer the worst day in its history, sustaining nearly 60,000 casualties. Because of the composition of the British Army, at this point a volunteer force with many battalions comprising men from particular localities, these losses (and those of the campaign as a whole) had a profound social impact. The battle is also remembered for the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 6 miles (9.7 km) into German occupied territory, with the British Army still three miles (5 km) from Bapaume, a major objective. The German Army maintained its frontline over the winter of 1916-17, before withdrawing from the Somme battlefield in February 1917 to the fortified Hindenburg Line.
Australian soldier
The unidentified soldier (right) was part of the First Australian Imperial Force during WWI
The conduct of the battle has been a source of controversy: senior officers such as General Sir Douglas Haig, the commander of theBritish Expeditionary Force and Henry Rawlinson, the commander of Fourth Army, have been criticised for incurring very severe casualties while failing to achieve their territorial objectives. Other historians have portrayed the Somme as a preliminary to the defeat of the German Army and one which taught the British Army tactical and operational lessons.
The original British Expeditionary Force, six divisions strong at the start of the war, had been wiped out by the battles of 1914 and 1915. The bulk of the army was now made up of volunteers of theTerritorial Force and Lord Kitchener's New Army, which had begun forming in August 1914. The expansion demanded generals for the senior commands, so promotion came at a rapid pace and did not always reflect ability. Haig started the war as the commanding officer ofBritish I Corps, then was promoted to command the British First Army and then the BEF, an army group eventually comprising sixty divisions in five armies. This vast increase in numbers diluted troop quality and undermined the confidence inexperienced commanders had in their men; this was especially true of Rawlinson.
Allied war strategy before the Somme
The Allied war strategy for 1916 was largely formulated during a conference at Chantilly between 6–8 December 1915. It was decided that for the next year, simultaneous offensives would be mounted by the Russians in the east, the Italians(who had by now joined the Entente) in the Alps and the Anglo-French on the Western Front, thereby assailing theCentral Powers from all sides.

An overall view of the front in the region of the Somme before the battle.
By 19 December 1915, General Sir Douglas Haig had replaced General Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of theBritish Expeditionary Force(BEF). Haig favoured a British offensive in Flanders— it was close to BEF supply routes via the Channel ports and had a strategic goal of driving the Germans from the North Sea coast of Belgium, from which their U-boats were menacing Britain. Although there was no formal order of seniority, the British were still the "junior partner" on the Western Front and had to largely comply with French policy, even though Haig did not report to GeneralJoseph Joffre, the French Commander. In January 1916, Joffre had agreed to the BEF making their main effort in Flanders but after further discussions in February, the decision was reached to mount a combined offensive where the French and British armies were to launch their assault astride the Somme River in Picardy.
During February 1916, plans for the joint offensive on the Somme were still in the hands of the General Staff when the Germans began an offensive against the French at Verdun. As the French committed themselves to defending Verdun, their capacity to carry out their role on the Somme was significantly reduced and the burden shifted to the British. France would end up contributing three corps to the opening of the attack (the XX, I Colonial and XXXV Corps of the 6th Army). As the Battle of Verdun dragged on, the aim of the Somme offensive changed from delivering a decisive blow against Germany, to relieving the pressure on the French army, the balance of forces changing to 13 French and 20 British divisions at the Somme.
Strategic differences between Haig and Rawlinson
A disagreement over tactics arose between Sir Douglas Haig and his senior local commander, General Sir Henry Rawlinson, General Officer Commanding the British Fourth Army. Haig ordered that the objectives were "... relieving the pressure on the French at Verdun and inflicting loss on the enemy." ('G.H.Q. letter O.A.D. 12 to General Sir H. Rawlinson, 16 June 1916 Stating the Objectives')[13] and that preparations should be made for an advance of 7 miles (11 km) to Bapaume should German resistance crumble, "If the first attack goes well every effort must be made to develop the success to the utmost by firstly opening a way for our cavalry and then as quickly as possible pushing the cavalry through to seize Bapaume...." (Note O.A.D. 17, Dated 21 June 1916).[14] He prepared to do this by first bombarding the enemy relentlessly for a week with a million shells. Following up this massive display of artillery would be twenty-two British and French divisions, passing through the barriers and occupying the trenches filled with stunned German soldiers so that his divisions could head off into the open.[15] He wrote to the British General Staff that"the advance was to be pressed eastward far enough to enable our cavalry to push through into the open country beyond the enemy's prepared lines of defense."
Rawlinson anticipated an advance in the form of "bites" into the German defenses. This "bite and hold" method was based upon his experience, as in the Second Battle of Ypres where the Germans used 2,000 yards (1,800 m) worth of solid defence in the face of fire to achieve success.[18] He perceived this to be a sort of siege warfare that would be limited but positive as in action inMessines in 1915. Rawlinson would soon compromise with Haig's plan, despite his views on the matter. He gradually changed his mind over the tactical approach offered by Haig and even went so far as to tell his men that "the infantry would only have to walk over to take possession."
German preparation on the eve of battle
The German Army, on the defence, held the high ground and were aware of the intended attack; they had been practically unmolested since October 1914, which had allowed the time needed to construct extensive trench lines and deep shellproof bunkers. British intelligence had underestimated the strength of the German defences. The German bunkers were up to thirty feet deep and could resist artillery fire. Barbed wireobstacles in front of the German positions would require a lot more to break through and any shells that happened to strike the wire had merely tangled it more, making it even more dangerous. A report from a senior British officer in the field, General Aylmer Hunter-Weston of the VIII Corps, added to the myth that the wire could be cut by bombardment when he wrote that "the troops could walk in." This contradicted a junior officer who was serving under his command, who saw that the wire had not been removed effectively, that he"could see it standing strong and well." Uncut wire posed a severe hazard to attacking infantry.

Battle of Albert, 1–13 July

Battle of Albert (1916)
Before the infantry advanced, the artillery had been called into action. Barrages in the past had depended on surprise and poor German bunkers for success; however, these conditions did not exist in the area of the Somme. To add to the difficulties involved in penetrating the German defences, of 1,437 British guns, only 467 were heavies, and just 34 of those were of 9.2" (234 mm) or greater calibre. In the end, only 30 tons of explosive would fall per mile of British front. Of the 12,000 tons fired, two thirds of it was shrapnel and only 900 tons of it was capable of penetrating bunkers.[23] To make matters worse, British gunners lacked the accuracy to bring fire in on close German trenches, keeping a safe separation of 300 yards (270 m), compared to the French gunners' 60 yards (55 m)—and British troops were often less than 300 yd (270 m) away, meaning German fortifications were untouched by the barrage.[23] The infantry then crawled out into no man's land early so they could rush the front German trench as soon as the barrage lifted. Despite the heavy bombardment, many of the German defenders had survived, protected in deep dugouts and they were able to inflict a terrible toll on the infantry.
First day on the Somme: 1 July
Main article: First day on the Somme
"Before the blackness of their burst had thinned or fallen the hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme."
The Old Front LineJohn Masefield

Explosion of the Hawthorn Ridge mine, 7:20 am, 1 July 1916. Photo by Ernest Brooks.
Zero hour was officially set at 7:30 am for 1 July 1916 Ten minutes prior to zero hour, an officer detonated a 40,000-pound (18,000 kg) mine beneathHawthorn Ridge Redoubt. Originally the mine was supposed to be set off at zero hour but as the VIII Corps commander, Lt-Gen Hunter-Weston (who had wanted to detonate four hours earlier, a proposal which was vetoed by the Inspector of Mines at BEF GHQ), remembered, both the 29th Division commander and the Brigade commander that were involved in the planning fought for ten minutes prior to zero hour. He said that they were concerned about large pieces harming the advancing British infantry.[27] A Royal Engineer in the 252nd Tunnelling Company confirmed this, saying after the war that after he complained about the earlier time to the VIII Corps staff, they told him that the reason for the time was that they "feared the results of their men going across."[28] Soon after, the remaining mines were set off, with the exception of one mine at Kasino Point, which detonated at 7:27 a.m.[29]When zero hour came, there was a brief and unsettling silence as artillery shifted their aim to a new line of targets and the time of the infantry to advance had come. The attack was made by thirteen Britishdivisions- eleven from the Fourth Army and two from theThird Army) north of the Somme River and eleven divisions of the French Sixth Army just to the south of the river. They were opposed by the German Second Army of General Fritz von Below. The axis of the advance was centred on the Roman road that ran from Albert in the west to Bapaume 12 miles (19 km) to the northeast.[30]
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British infantry attack plan for 1 July. The only success came in the south at Mametzand Montauban and on the French sector.  North of the Albert-Bapaume road, the advance was almost a complete failure.[31] Communications were completely inadequate, as commanders were largely ignorant of the progress of the battle. A mistaken report by General Beauvoir De Lisle of the 29th Division proved to be fatal. By misinterpreting a German flare as success by the 87th Brigade at Beaumont Hamel, it led to the reserves being ordered forward.[32] The eight hundred and one men from the 1stNewfoundland Regiment marched onto the battlefield from the reserves and only 68 made it out unharmed with over 500 of 801 dead. This one day of fighting had snuffed out a major portion of an entire generation of Newfoundlanders. British attacks astride the Albert-Bapaume road also failed, despite the explosion of two mines at La Boisselle. Here another tragic advance was made by theTyneside Irish Brigade of the 34th Division, which started nearly one mile from the German front line, in full view of German machine-guns. The Irish Brigade was wiped out before it reached the front trench line.
In the sector south of the Albert-Bapaume road, the British and French divisions found greater success.[31] Here the German defences were relatively weak, and the French artillery, which was superior in numbers and experience to the British, was highly effective. From Mametz to Montauban and the Somme River, all the first-day objectives were reached.[35]Though the French XX Corps was to only act in a supporting role in this sector, in the event they would help lead the way. South of the Somme, French forces fared very well, surpassing their objectives.[35] The I Colonial Corps departed their trenches at 9:30 am as part of a feint meant to lure the Germans opposite into a false sense of security. The feint was successful as, like the French divisions to the north, they advanced 5 miles (8.0 km). They had stormed Fay, Dompierre and Becquincourt, extending the capture of German lines along a fourteen mile (21 km) front from Mametz to Fay.[36] To the right of the Colonial Corps, the XXXV Corps also attacked at 9:30 am but, having only one division in the first line, had made less progress.[36] The German trenches had been overwhelmed, and the enemy had been surprised by the attack. Over 3,000 German prisoners had been taken and the French had captured 80 German guns. The first day on the Somme achieved success for the southern Allied forces but suffered tactical disaster on 2/3 of the British front. Assessments of the success of the assault have been limited.
Middlebrook claims that 1 July was a British success, for the Germans immediately started closing down their attack at Verdun. The British assault had been on such a scale that success, in this limited sense, had been inevitable. The terrible losses made it a success hardly worth having.[38]


A wounded man of the Newfoundland Regiment is brought in at Beaumont Hamel
Edmonds refers to disastrous loss of the finest manhood of the United Kingdom and Ireland for only a small gain of ground to show.[39] He also writes that a substantial success had been won upon half the total frontage of the Allied attack; for the French astride the Somme, and the British between Maricourt and Fricourt had driven the enemy from his front position. In this area at least he had lost heavily in killed, wounded and prisoners, much of his artillery had been destroyed, and considerable disorganisation had set in.[40] It would have been in accordance with the tactical principles of "siege-warfare in the field" if Sir Douglas Haig had stopped his attacks after the limited success of 1 July and proceeded to try elsewhere. Unfortunately such a course was not possible.
Although the Allied armies had not achieved all that they had hoped and expected on 1 July 1916, Philpott asserts that they momentarily gained the upper hand. While the German defence had not been broken completely, it had all but collapsed on a large section of its front astride the Somme. By the early afternoon, a 'broad breach' existed north of the river.
'However clumsy the British offensive, it had wrested the initiative from the Germans and was inflicting punishing casualties on them. Allied strategy was working.'[43]
The British had suffered 19,240 dead, 35,493 wounded, 2,152 missing and 585 prisoners for a total loss of 57,470.[44] This meant that in one day of fighting, 20% of the entire British fighting force had been killed, in addition to the complete loss of the Newfoundland Regiment as a fighting unit. Haig and Rawlinson did not know the enormity of the casualties and injuries from the battle and actually considered resuming the offensive as soon as possible.[45] In fact, Haig, in his diary the next day, wrote that "...the total casualties are estimated at over 40,000 to date. This cannot be considered severe in view of the numbers engaged, and the length of front attacked."
Continuing the attack: 2–13 July
An aerial view of the Somme battlefield in July, taken from a British balloon nearBécourt
German reaction by the General Staff to the first day's events was one of surprise; they did not expect such a big attack by the British. General Erich von Falkenhayn, agitated by the additional losses in one sector of the Somme front, sacked the Chief of Staff of the Second Army and replaced him with Colonel Fritz von Lossberg, his operations officer.[47] Lossberg did not readily accept this promotion, as he vehemently disagreed with the conduct of the offensive at Verdun. He wanted it stopped and Falkenhayn agreed to this condition. He ultimately took control of the Second Army but Falkenhayn did not keep his promise and attacks in the Verdun sector went on.[47] Von Lossberg contributed greatly to the German defence in his part of the front, scrapping the old ideas of front line defence with a new 'defence in depth' idea. Lines of German defenders would be held in reserve, poised at the ready while the thin front line would ensure a much smaller amount of casualties.[47]
The decisive issue of the war depends on the victory of the Second Army on the Somme. We must win this battle in spite of the enemy's temporary superiority in artillery and infantry. The important ground lost in certain places will be recaptured by our attack after the arrival of reinforcements. The vital thing is to hold on to our present positions at all costs and to improve them. I forbid the voluntary evacuation of trenches. The will to stand firm must be impressed on every man in the army. The enemy should have to carve his way over heaps of corpses..."[48]
Assessments by Haig and Rawlinson on 2 July were lacking in the failure to secure objectives during the first day of the offensive. Despite this, planning for their next move was conducted between Haig, Rawlinson and Joffre. Haig felt that gains in the south should be exploited, Rawlinson wanted to stick to the original plan by pressing along the entire front and Joffre demanded that Haig aim to capture the heights of Thiepval Ridge[49] but Haig would not agree to this and Joffre then referred him to General Foch to settle the matter. Foch remembers that Haig was "upset with his losses... and that therefore he was not much inclined to attack again at Thiepval-Serre, but proposed to exploit the success farther south. This infuriated Joffre, who simply went for Haig, and was quite brutal."[50]
On the morning of 3 July, the northern part of the front bisected by the Albert-Bapaume road had been a problem for the British, as only a part of La Boisselle had been taken. The road to Contalmaison beyond La Boisselle was important to the British because the town of Contalmaison enjoyed a high position where the Germans protected their artillery, a focal point in the center of the front line.[51] The position south of the Albert-Bapaume road proved to be much more favourable to the advancing British, where they had achieved success. The line from Fricourt to Mametz Wood and on to Delville Woodnear Longueval was overrun in due course, however the line beyond was more difficult to navigate because of dense forests.[52]
As the British struggled to jump-start their offensive, the French continued their rapid advance south of the Somme. By 3 July, only three of the twelve original divisions of the British army slated for attack had been active since the first day. Since a period of stagnation had set in on the British part of the front, a simmering hostility rose up among the rank and file of the French army. Officers in the Sixth Army even went so far as to call the offensive that had taken place so far "for amateurs by amateurs."[53] Despite the negative feelings, the I Colonial Corps pressed on and by the end of the day, Méréaucourt Wood, Herbécourt, Buscourt, Chapitre Wood, Flaucourt and Asseviller were all in French hands. The first town to be captured was Frise which held a 77-gun battery, found intact by French soldiers. In so doing, 8,000 Germans had been made prisoner, while the taking of the Flaucourt plateau would allow Foch to move heavy artillery up to support the XX Corps on the north bank.[55]
The French continued their attack on 5 July as Hem was taken. On 8 July, Hardecourt-aux-Bois and Monacu Farm (a veritable fortress, surrounded by hidden machine-gun nests in the nearby marsh) both fell, followed by Biaches, Maisonnette and Fortress Biaches on 9 July and 10 July.

Rethondes, zoom on Maréchal Foch

Rethondes, Statue of Maréchal Foch who signed the end of the World War I on 11th November 1918.
Ferdinand Foch OM GCB (2 October 1851 – 20 March 1929) was a French soldier, military theorist, and writer credited with possessing "the most original and subtle mind in the French army" in the early 20th century.[1] He served as general in the French army during World War I and was made Marshal of France in its final year: 1918. Shortly after the start of the Spring Offensive, Germany's final attempt to win the war, Foch was chosen as supreme commander of the Allied armies, a position that he held until 11 November 1918, when he accepted the German request for an armistice. In 1923 he was made Marshal of Poland.
He advocated peace terms that would make Germany unable to pose a threat to France ever again. His words after the Treaty of Versailles, "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years" would prove exactly prophetic; World War II started almost twenty years later
Result of the battle
Thus, in ten days of fighting, on nearly a 1212 miles (20 kilometres) front, the French 6th Army had progressed as far as six miles (10 km) at points. It had occupied the entire Flaucourt plateau (which constituted the principal defence of Péronne) while taking 12,000 prisoners, 85 cannon, 26minenwerfers, 100 machine guns, and other assorted materials, all with relatively minimal losses.
For the British, the first two weeks of the battle had degenerated into a series of disjointed, small-scale actions, ostensibly in preparation for making a major push. From 3 to 13 July, Rawlinson's Fourth Army carried out 46 "actions" resulting in 25,000 casualties, but no significant advance. This demonstrated a difference in strategy between Haig and his French counterparts and was a source of friction. Haig's purpose was to maintain continual pressure on the enemy, while Joffre and Foch preferred to conserve their strength in preparation for a single, heavy blow.
The fact that the French and British lacked an overall commander was hardly a benefit for the Entente. British generals wouldn't accept that their soldiers should stand under French command, and the French generals argued in the same way for their soldiers. (It was first at the last winter of the war, in 1918, after strong pressure from the United States on the United Kingdom, that the French fieldmarshal Ferdinand Foch became supreme commander of the entire western front.)

Joffre and Pershing in the Governor's Gardens, Paris"Joffre and Pershing in Governor's Gardens, Paris"
"Joffre and Pershing! Here are two men who accepted responsibilities and made decisions which affected the lives of millions, which influenced the destinies of nations: "Papa" Joffre, as the French affectionately called him, Marshall of France and Commander-in-chief of her armies in those fateful early days of the war when everything hung upon the right decisions; and General Pershing, "Black Jack", as the American soldiers dubbed him in appreciation of his stern soldierly qualities, Commander-in-chief of our armies overseas.

"By winning the Battle of Marne, Marshal Joffre saved Paris and in saving Paris saved France and in all probability the world; by driving the Germans from St. Mihiel, that arrowhead thrust threateningly towards the heart of France. by his co-operation with Marshal Foch at Soissons, Chateau-Thierry and many other places, and by the terrific force of his drive in the Argonne, General Pershing arrested the march of the victorious German host and dealt the final blow which led to its defeat.

"The fame of these men will live secure in the hearts of their countrymen. Joffre was chosen a member of the French Academy, one of the greatest honors that France can bestow. Pershing, aside from the decorations given him by his own country, has received honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, in England, and the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor from France, the Grand Cross of the Bath from Great Britain, and a number of other Allied nations the highest military decorations within their power to bestow"

Once Fair Village of Coucy, near Reims, France

"Village of Coucy, Near Reims
"It seems like a city of the dead, this once fair French village, a city of days gone by, a replica of the ruins of Pompeii or the time-worn temples of Greece, exposed to modern eyes by th pick of an explorer. Not a living soul is visible, not a sign of animal life is to be seen! There is nothing but ruins and rubbish which the shells of heavy guns have churned over and over.

 

"The ground is pitted with shell holes, broken and lined with trenches. The inhabitants have fled, driven from their homes by a war that spared neither man, woman, nor child. Desolation has settled upon the place. Even the trees seem lifeless, scorched by the hot breath of war. What a scene for the villagers when those who survive return!

"The inhabitants of many French towns and villages experienced the same fate as those of this village. Caught between the contending armies, they were forced to flee for life while their homes were ground to fragments. At most they could carry with them but a small part of their possessions. Often they were forced to depart with almost nothing, to live upon the charity of strangers. After the war was over, returning with hope in their hearts-- for a Frenchman always returns to his home-- they found ruins. That is what this war brought to a large part of France, this war entirely unprovoked on her part. "No town in the neighborhood of Reims escaped unscathed. Reims, held for a few days by the Germans early in the war, became the object of their resentment. Since they could not retake it, they smashed it; it and the villages in the neighborhood. Coucy but shared the fate of others."


Trenches & bomb craters. Battle of the Somme. I World War.Canadian Battlefield Memorial Park. France.

Devasated [sic] Arras, "Grande Place" Section Visited by Peace Conference Delegates, France


Tanks attack on Thiepval

Tank moving across a battlefield at Thiepval, France. The tank appears to be moving over the top of a trench. In the trench there is a group of soldiers carefully watching it, they are all wearing steel helmets. There are also two soldiers standing next to the tank and some men visible further along the trench. The ground is extremely muddy and uneven, and strewn with debris.
The tank was developed and introduced by the British and French during World War I. It was first used at the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916, in a desperate bid to break the deadlock.

Trench mortar school mascot on a German trench mortar.Man standing next to a captured German trench mortar. There is a tiny monkey sitting on the barrel of the trench mortar. The man is holding the monkey's hand and is looking closely at the monkey's face. They are standing on an area bordered by trees and bushes. There is a duckboard path running across the ground directly behind them. It is a charming and sweet photograph offering a momentary escape from the madness of war.

Many soldiers adopted animals, often abandoned or left behind by their owners, and kept them as pets or mascots.
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Front view of a tank coming out of action

Front of a tank. According to the photograph's original caption it is returning from a battle. The caterpillar tracks are caked in mud from the battlefield. There are two viewing holes at the front of the tank and on the side there is a weapon, a machine gun or cannon. A soldier wearing an overcoat and leather boots is standing to the left of the tank.
Tanks were developed and introduced during World War I, by France and Britain. Initially Germans were scared by what they saw, however, it quickly became apparent that these large machines were rather unreliable and unwieldy. Throughout the war, tank design underwent further development and refinement.
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Drawing rations from the railhead

Soldiers unloading supply trains, France. This image shows a scene at a railhead, with the contents of two long lines of railway carriages being unloaded. Between two sets of railway tracks there are soldiers and horse-drawn carts milling around. Some of the carts are loaded with hay or straw, probably food supplies for the horses. It is a scene of much activity, with supplies being moved from the railway carriages onto the horse-drawn carts.
Railways were vital throughout the war for transporting large supplies of food, arms and equipment to the Front. In the transportation of food it was particularly important to get supplies to the troops quickly and efficiently
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Bringing in the wounded. Two soldiers carrying a wounded soldier on a stretcher, France. This is a rather disorientating picture as a lot of different backgrounds are portrayed. The soldiers are walking through what appears to be a field of corn. In the distance there are large grass embankments. Sandwiched between the two are large mounds of building rubble. The soldiers are uniformed and wearing their helmets. The soldier on the stretcher has had his helmet removed.

Sergeant Gilbert Feiro commented in a letter written in December 1918, that after a German air raid 'I got them [the wounded] fixed up and sent back for ten litter bearers and finally about daylight got them started back for the hospital.'
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When a train is signalled they all rush off to their ambulances

Ambulance drivers preparing to meet an incoming train, France, during World War I. There is a row of ambulances parked facing away from the camera, along the back of the photograph. They are canvas-covered trucks with crosses painted on them and a vent opening at the back. They are fenced in by tall trees. There are seven women running, fanned-out, across the muddy open ground in front. They are wearing long, heavy coats and leather helmets. Driving an ambulance, along with nursing, was one of the few callings which allowed women to participate in the war near the front line.

I heard the Ancre flow

Context: nearby where the D73 crosses the Ancre below Thiepval ridge lie these scenes. Are they the remains of the mill or bridge in Edmund Blunden's poem The Ancre at Hamel: Afterwards....
Where tongues were loud and hearts were light
I heard the Ancre flow:
Walking oft at the mid of night
I heard the Ancre flow.
I heard it crying, that sad rill,
Below the painful ridge
By the burnt unraftered mill
And the relic of a bridge


File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R05148, Westfront, deutscher Soldat.jpg"The Battle of the Somme is a 1916 British documentary and propaganda film. Shot by two official cinematographers, Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, the film depicts the British Army's preparations for, and the early stages of, the battle of the Somme.
Premiered in London on 10 August 1916 and released generally on 21 August, while the battle continued in France, the film gave a very graphic depiction of trench warfare, showing dead and wounded British and German soldiers. The film was a massive success, selling some twenty million tickets in its first six weeks of release in Britain and going on to be distributed in eighteen other countries. A second film, covering a later phase of the battle, was released in 1917 as The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks.
Preserved in the film archive of the Imperial War Museum since 1920, the film was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2005. The film has since been digitally restored and released on DVD in 2008.


File:Western Front Somme focus.jpg



 
Weary: A soldier is watched by his comrades as he sleeps in the trenches in France during WWI
A soldier is watched by his comrades as he sleeps in the trenches in France during WWI. The image reflects the basic conditions soldiers were forced to endure.


File:Battle of Albert.jpg

File:Somme battlefield aerial view July 1916.jpg


The British 21st Division attack on Bazentin le Petit, 14 July 1916. The area captured by 9.00 am is shown by the dashed red line.

The Somme, France. Peronne Historical Museum

During the battle of the Somme in 1916 Peronne lay in the French sector. In March 1917 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, leaving the town in ruins. In March 1918 the German army recaptured the town and held it until September 1918 when it was finally taken by the 2nd Australian Division. The Historical Museum was opened in 1995 and is housed in a restored medieval Chateau.

The Somme, France. Peronne Historical Museum

During the battle of the Somme in 1916 Peronne lay in the French sector. In March 1917 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, leaving the town in ruins. In March 1918 the German army recaptured the town and held it until September 1918 when it was finally taken by the 2nd Australian Division. The Historical Museum was opened in 1995 and is housed in a restored medieval Chateau.

The Somme, France. Peronne Historical Museum

During the battle of the Somme in 1916 Peronne lay in the French sector. In March 1917 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, leaving the town in ruins. In March 1918 the German army recaptured the town and held it until September 1918 when it was finally taken by the 2nd Australian Division. The Historical Museum was opened in 1995 and is housed in a restored medieval Chateau.

Somme Winter 1916-1917 Diorama

Sculpture: Wallace Anderson
Painting: Louis McCubbin, George Browning

Somme winter, 1916–17 depicts a trench located west of Gueudecourt. It shows the grim conditions Australians fought and lived in. The small funk hole, roofed by duckboard and covered with a waterproof sheet, is where the men mostly slept during winter.
Work began on the diorama in 1923. The work was previously referred to as Gueudecourt and Life in the trenches at Gueudecourt, Somme 1916–17. It was first displayed at the Memorial in Aeroplane Hall and relocated to the Western Front gallery in 1970.
During the Battle of Somme, the town of Gueudecourt had comprised one of the most distant objectives for the British drive that opened on 15 September 1916, a drive that has come to be known as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Although the British had not been able to take Gueudecourt during the battle’s commencement, continual fighting had brought the town within reach by September 25, when the Battle of Morval opened. The primary trench-lines that guarded the town, and through which the 21st Division of the XV Corps had to assault, were Goat Trench, Gird Trench, and Gird Support. The 10th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 1st East Yorks (64th Brigade) attacked Gird Trench, but could make no headway, while the 1st Lincolns were stopped by shellfire in the British frontline. The 8th and 9th Leicesters (110th Brigade) had greater success, taking Goat Trench, but machine-gun fire prevented them from taking Gird. On the morning of September 26, at 6:30 am, a tank came up Pilgrim’s way to assist in the capture of Gird trench—the Battle of Morval marked only the second use of tanks in war. Behind the tank, bombers of the 7th Leicesters followed, driving the Germans from Gird Trench. The tank moved towards the Southeast of Gueudecourt before retiring from the scene. A combined thrust of infantry (6th Leicesters) and cavalry (19th Lancers and South Irish Horse) occupied the town that evening. The final position in this sector, as of September 26, was a little short of the Gueudecourt—Le Transloy road.

Somme Winter 1916-1917 Diorama

Sculpture: Wallace Anderson
Painting: Louis McCubbin, George Browning

Somme winter, 1916–17 depicts a trench located west of Gueudecourt. It shows the grim conditions Australians fought and lived in. The small funk hole, roofed by duckboard and covered with a waterproof sheet, is where the men mostly slept during winter.
Work began on the diorama in 1923. The work was previously referred to as Gueudecourt and Life in the trenches at Gueudecourt, Somme 1916–17. It was first displayed at the Memorial in Aeroplane Hall and relocated to the Western Front gallery in 1970.
During the Battle of Somme, the town of Gueudecourt had comprised one of the most distant objectives for the British drive that opened on 15 September 1916, a drive that has come to be known as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Although the British had not been able to take Gueudecourt during the battle’s commencement, continual fighting had brought the town within reach by September 25, when the Battle of Morval opened. The primary trench-lines that guarded the town, and through which the 21st Division of the XV Corps had to assault, were Goat Trench, Gird Trench, and Gird Support. The 10th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 1st East Yorks (64th Brigade) attacked Gird Trench, but could make no headway, while the 1st Lincolns were stopped by shellfire in the British frontline. The 8th and 9th Leicesters (110th Brigade) had greater success, taking Goat Trench, but machine-gun fire prevented them from taking Gird. On the morning of September 26, at 6:30 am, a tank came up Pilgrim’s way to assist in the capture of Gird trench—the Battle of Morval marked only the second use of tanks in war. Behind the tank, bombers of the 7th Leicesters followed, driving the Germans from Gird Trench. The tank moved towards the Southeast of Gueudecourt before retiring from the scene. A combined thrust of infantry (6th Leicesters) and cavalry (19th Lancers and South Irish Horse) occupied the town that evening. The final position in this sector, as of September 26, was a little short of the Gueudecourt—Le Transloy road.

Thiepval Morning - The Somme

Another morning and the mist rises from the Ancre river valley.

Thiepval

Viewed from near the Ulster Tower, in the foreground the remains of a German machinegun post and in the background the Ancre CWGC, Newfoundland battlefield park on the Hawthorn Ridge and the village of Hamel.  

Tread lightly on the Somme

Seen near Pozieres, an unexploded German morter bomb and a shell.

Newfoundland on the Somme

Taken in the Newfoundland battlefield park above Beaumont Hamel, this earlier photo shows original battlefield debris still in the shellholes.

Leipzig Salient - The Somme

Looking back to Thiepval Memorial the area in the trees was the tip of the strong German defences in

Queens CWGC Serre - The Somme

In No-Mans-Land this is as far as most soldiers got on the 1st July 1916. The "Pals" battalions were decimated in the attack. The church spire of their objective, the village of Serre, is on the skyline.
THE PALS
"Two years in the making, ten minutes in destroying"


The "Sunken Lane" - Beaumont Hamel The Somme

This lane near Beaumont Hamel is located in no-mans-land and was used as a forward assembly point for the attack on the 1st July 1916. The attack took place from the lane towards the left of the photo. The Hawthorn Ridge and mine crater is in the rear centre-left.
Here is an authentic cip from the film "Battle of the Somme" showing soldiers in the lane most of whom would not survive the attack.

Near Wedge Wood - The Somme

"Elephant Iron" dugout roofing on the edge of the wood.


P9080227-2 Somme Canal, from the bridge at Gouy.

P9080215-2 Somme Canal, from the bridge at Pinchefalise. On the East side of St-Valery-sur-Somme, the start of a 17km stretch of straight tree lined canal.
 

Somme, France

Somme, France A church in Somme France


Somme mist, Delville Wood. Scene of bloody fighting during the battle of the Somme, 1916; now South Africa's memorial for its dead in all wars overseas.

Somme sunset. After a huge thunderstorm, a quiet sunset over the village of Longueval, destroyed during fighting for Delville Wood in 1916 and rebuilt in the '20s. Taken with a Cokin grey grad filter.

Poppies in the Somme Valley. The 1916 Battle of the Somme saw well over a million casualties. Today it is fields of grain, and children ride bicycles along the roads between the ubiquitous foreign-cemetery markers. And poppies grow there.


The Somme, France. Peronne Historical Museum
During the battle of the Somme in 1916 Peronne lay in the French sector. In March 1917 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, leaving the town in ruins. In March 1918 the German army recaptured the town and held it until September 1918 when it was finally taken by the 2nd Australian Division. The Historical Museum was opened in 1995 and is housed in a restored medieval Chateau.

The Somme, France. Peronne Historical Museum
During the battle of the Somme in 1916 Peronne lay in the French sector. In March 1917 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line, leaving the town in ruins. In March 1918 the German army recaptured the town and held it until September 1918 when it was finally taken by the 2nd Australian Division. The Historical Museum was opened in 1995 and is housed in a restored medieval Chateau.

The Somme river
Context: The river Somme marked the southern limit of the British sector at the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. This image is taken from the escarpment above the Somme near Vaux, looking south-east down the river to the French sector on the far escarpment near Frise.

Somme, Berny-en-Santerre This is around this little village probably in one of these flat (battle) fields

 

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

- Shakespeare. Henry V

 


Desolate Waste on Chemin des Dames Battlefield, France

What was once pretty countryside around the Belgian village that gave the battlefield its name was reduced to an infernal swamp where the ground oozed with foul-smelling slime, and mustard gas that blistered the skin and made the lungs bleed.
Today, the Queen will attend a Last Post ceremony in Passchendaele at the Menin Gate, where a memorial arch is engraved with the names of the 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who died with no known graves.
hell on earth
Slaughter: One of the 250,000 Allies killed in action
She will also visit the Tyne Cot cemetery, where 11,952 graves are laid out in neat concentric circles, their tombstones white against the green grass, in peaceful defiance of the brutal battle that took their lives. One of the major conflicts of World War I, it was conceived by British Commander-in-Chief Sir Douglas Haig as a "big push" that would, finally, bring a breakthrough in the stalemate in Flanders.
hell on earth
Another bleak day dawns: Allied soldiers take a breather before the next round of German bombardment. Officially named the Third Battle of Ypres, the hope was that by breaking through German lines at this point on the Western Front, the Allies could reach the Belgian coast and capture the German submarine bases there. The Allies prepared the way with a massive two-week bombardment in which 3,000 heavy guns sent more than four million shells pouring into the German lines.
hell on earth
Devastation: Canadian soldiers survey a smashed German bunker. Then, on July 31, the troops poured into a No Man's Land that within days and under torrential rain had become a sodden bog. It became so deep that men, horses and pack mules drowned in it. What was supposed to be a breakthrough became a battle of attrition. By November, the British and Empire forces had advanced just five miles at terrible cost, to take the village of Passchendaele - which at least provided an excuse for them to call a halt.

Repairing Field Telephone Lines During a Gas Attack at the Front


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German Tanker Armed with Flamethrower

A crewman from A7V 506 at San Quentin, March 21, 1918, the opening day of the Kaiser's Battle. Serving dismounted in a shock troop, he is armed with a Kar 98AZ and a ring-shaped portable flamethrower that is not the Wex M.1917. It may be an experimental model manufactured by the L. von Bremen Company specifically for the use of tank crewmen.
The flamethrower has been fitted with a cloth cover and is disconnected from the lance. Although A7V tanks were originally intended to carry flamethrowers on board, the idea was abandoned as too dangerous. Instead, infantry patrols carried the devices, which the dismounted tankers used when serving as shock troops.

WWI American Field Service. WWI American ambulance drivers serving with the American Field Service stationed in the Toul Sector of the Western Front, France.


WWI American Sailor 1918 photograph depicting an American sailor posing in front of his country's flag


WWI French Machine Gun Crew, detail from a WWI photograph depicting French machine gunners at the front.


German Model 1916 Portable Flamethrower

Captured Kleif M.1916, distinguishable form the 1917 model by the three metal legs and external propellant line on the left side. The igniter is live; however, the ball valve of the lance is in the "open position. It's likely that the flamethrower is therefore empty. The rubber hose is sleeved in linen and wrapped in steel wire to prevent folding or kinking.
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German Flamethrower Regiment Grenadier

Grenadier of the 12th Company, Guard Reserve Pioneer Regiment. He wears the M1915 blouse with regulation black shoulder straps piped in red and the death's-head sleeve badge awarded July 28, 1916. Equipment includes M1916 steel helmet, M1916 metal gas-mask container in the "alert" position, M1916 and M1917 stick grenades (Stielhandgranaten) and Kar 98AZ carbine.

Joseph Chambers Wounded at the Battle of the Somme. Killed 16th August 1917. 9th Battalion. Royal Irish Fusiliers. His cousin John was killed at the Battle of the Somme

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Flamethrower Pioneer of Assault Battalion Rohr

On the left is a Gefreiter of Infantry Regiment No. 382. His companion is an Unteroffizier of the flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion Rohr.
This photo is a mystery. The flamethrower platoon of Assault Battalion Rohr was awarded a Guard Pioneer Pickelhaube on June 6, 1916, a helmet that featured a Brunswick death's-head badge on the front. Assault Battalion Rohr became Assault Battalion No. 5 in December of 1916, five months after the flamethrower platoon was awarded the Prussian death's head-sleeve badge.
This Unteroffizier wears an M1915 blouse (Bluse) with field-gray shoulder straps that feature red piping and a red number "5." If still a member of the flamethrower platoon, he should also be wearing the death's head sleeve badge. However, he displays an unauthorized Brunswick death's head on his cap instead.
He may have transferred into the Assault Battalion proper before being awarded the death's-head sleeve badge but retained his Brunswick badge as a matter of pride.
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German Flamethrower Pioneer

Pionier of the 6th Company, Guard Reserve Pioneer Regiment. He wears the M1907/10 service jacket and the M1908 peaked cap.
This photo was likely taken between April 20, 1916, when the flamethrower regiment was established, and July 28, 1916, when the death's head sleeve badge was awarded.
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Fallen German Flamethrower Pioneer

Pionier Kurt Böhme, 2nd Company of the Guard Reserve Pioneer Regiment (Garde-Reserve-Pionier-Regiment), who died in hospital on July 18, 1916, of wounds received at Verdun. He was twenty years old.He wears the M1907/10 service jacket and is equipped with a pioneer shovel and Kar 98ZA carbine. Flamethrower pioneers were issued carbines instead of rifles.
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WWI French Railroad Gun at Night

WWI photograph depicting a French railroad gun firing on German positions at night. On the left hand side of the photo, the silhouetted figures of French soldiers are seen, the light from the muzzle flash outlines their Adrian helmets and uniforms

Lieutenant Robert Alexander Bougue MC

Lieutenant Bogue, (1888-1917) holder of the Military Cross, was an officer in A Company of the 16th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry - affectionately known as the ‘Boys’ Brigade’ Battalion. He was the son of John and Isabella McLaren Bogue, of 7 Radnor St. Glasgow and was the husband of Mary Risk Henderson Bogue, of 296 Bath St., Glasgow. Lieutenant Bogue MC is fondly remembered on this family headstone, although actually buried in Hillfoot, New Kilpatrick cemetery.
Half a million Scots fought in the First World War; sadly more than 125,000 were killed in action – one sixth of the British casualty list. Thiepval, mentioned on the headstone, is the region in France where The Battle of the River Somme took place.
At 7.30am on the morning of 1st July 1916, a fierce artillery attack on the Germans attempted to cut their barbed wire defences and destroy their long line of deeply dug trenches as a prelude to a British attack. Tragically, the bombardment had little impact; even the explosion of huge mines under the German front line did little to stop their machine-gunners slaughtering the waves of advancing British infantry.
The 15th, 16th and 17th Battalions of the HLI were known as the 'Glasgow pals' battalions, as the recruits shared work or social associations. Men of the 15th Battalion were with the Glasgow Tramways, the 16th were ex-members of the Boys Brigade, and the 17th with the City of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Within ten minutes of the attack at Thiepval, some 550 men of the 17th HLI ‘Chamber of Commerce’ Battalion lay dead - almost half of its complement. A further 500 members of the 16th HLI ‘Boys’ Brigade’ Battalion were also killed at the Somme. A monument to the 51st Highland Division looks to Beamont Hamel where many of the 16th died. Its Gaelic inscription translates poignantly as ‘Friends are good on the day of battle.’
Lieutenant Robert Alexander Bogue MC was so severely wounded during the dawn attack at Thiepval that he died fifteen months later on the 26th Sept. 1917. The 16th Battalion of the HLI received one DSO, two MCs, eleven DCMs and twenty-two MMs at the Somme - the highest number of awards to any one battalion.

Somme mist, Delville Wood

Scene of bloody fighting during the battle of the Somme, 1916; now South Africa's memorial for its dead in all wars overseas.

Red among the ranks


Grandcourt Church. Postcard view one of the villages on the Somme battlefield , Grandcourt


French memorial church, Rancourt


MONTAUBAN WINDMILL

Postcard view one of the villages on the Somme battlefield , Montauban windmill

Kemmel Tower PC

A postcard view of part of the Ypres battlefield, Kemmel observation Tower

The Thiepval Memorial

Context: The Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval has carved on it the names of 72,086 United Kingdom and South African soldiers who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have whose remains were never found....... Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. This image is taken looking north along the front line - over the Ancre with Beaumont Hamel and the Redan Ridge in the distance to the left.


P9080250_01-2 The Thiepval Monument on the Somme battlefields, #2. The names of each and every one of 72,000 British and French soldiers lost in battle, 'freres d'armes pour l'eternite', carved in Portland stone.
 

Devasated [sic] Arras, "Grande Place" Section Visited by Peace Conference Delegates, France


WWI US Army Signal Corps

WWI photograph depicting a group of soldiers serving their country in the US Army's Signal Corps. The soldier in the center of the photo seen posing with a morse code key.

WWI French Railroad Gun at Night, detail no.1

Detail from a WWI photograph depicting a French railroad gun firing on German positions at night. On the left hand side of the photo, the silhouetted figures of French soldiers are seen, the light from the muzzle flash outlines their Adrian helmets and uniforms.

WWI US Army Recuiters in Oakland California

WWI photograph dated 1919 depicting the soldiers of the Central Auxiliary Recruiting Station of Oakland, California. A major stroke of collectors luck was finding the names of these men typed on the back after I unframed the photograph. As typed on the back exactly:
" Reading from left to right. Standing: Sergeant Patrick Pepper in charge, Sergeant Lee S. Colgrave, member of Party, Private Joseph A. Walker, member of party, Sergeant Sam Rosen, member of party, Private Louis R. Lowd, member of party. DOWN. Private Bert Scales, Corporal George Murphy, Sergeant Ernest J. Lachance, Corporal William H. Williams, Sergeant Austin H. MacDonald, Private Vincent Rebeck


WWI German Artillery. WWI photograph depicting a German artillery position within a wooden area, a number of pine trees and large branches seen around the gun. More than likely these would be used for concealing the gun enplacement.


WWI German High Command. WWI photograph depicting the German high command exiting a church.


WWI US Soldiers in the Rhine, detail. A detail from a WWI photograph depicting American soldiers marching towards the old gateway in the Roman Wall of Ahrweiler, Germany. A magnificent photograph with the unusual aspect of the soldiers marching away from the viewer. The photo was taken just after the war in 1919 when these soldiers served with Army of Occupation


WWI German Soldiers gathered on English Tank. A photograph taken behind the front lines of the Western Front during World War One. Depicted are German soldiers and officers gathered around and on top of an abandoned British Army tank. In the background smoke rising from a fire. The tank has no visible damage and may have been abondoned due to mechanical failure. More than likely taken shortly after a failed offensive thrust into German lines.


Reconsructed Canadian Trench System,Vimy


P9080255_01-2-2 The Thiepval Monument on the Somme battlefields ...Commemorating 72,000 British and French soldiers missing in action during WW1, which cost the lives of 2.5 million ...This vast cathedral-like monument echoes with the bravery of past sacrifices.



The Somme Site of the Battle for Serre (1st July 1916). The British Front line was where the trees are today.


The Somme Cemetery at Serre.

The Somme Delville Wood.

Yanks in the trenches. Two American soldiers rest after taking a German machine-gun position.

Found in Bernafay Wood

Context: Bernafay Wood lies towards the southern end of the Somme battlefield, close by Trones Wood and south of Delville Wood. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 the British attack almost made it to Bernafay Wood.

Trenching tools from Bernafay Wood

Context: Bernafay Wood lies towards the southern end of the Somme battlefield, close by Trones Wood and south of Delville Wood. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 the British attack almost made it to Bernafay Wood. These picks and shovels were collected over the years in the wood.
Victorious: A group of British soldiers celebrate in this photograph from WWI called 'Tommy enjoys possession of newly captured Hun trench'
A group of British soldiers celebrate in this photograph from WWI called 'Tommy enjoys possession of newly captured Hun trench'

The Thiepval Memorial Context: The Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval has carved on it the names of 72,086 United Kingdom and South African soldiers who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have whose remains were never found....... Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.


The Battle Forevermore
While lying safe on my bed
I felt a passion come over me.
Passchendaele: the battle of the dead.
I longed to know the story of number three.
The third battle, which held no end.
The first battle for the free.
The battle in which the great neutral came to defend
The lands which could not be saved,
It was the battle that could never end.
It was the battle for nothing.  No ground to be claimed.
The propaganda machine of the east
Marched against life to the battle of shame.
Passchendaele…how sweet the name yet fierce the beast
That held its ground while the river Styx
Flooded with those whose existence ceased.
The warriors climbed over the wall while their leaders slept in brick.
The soldiers rushed upon a magic
That had never been seen before.  Those pricks!
Those leaders who let men meet death, tragically,
By cannon fire.  Bullets rusted by the tears of the dead.
A wall of enemy fire met them tragically.
Still, they followed the command of their heads.
They did not question the commands aloud,
But silently in their heads.  They could smell death.
The great power was like the hound
That will attack until its master,
Or itself, is dead and six feet underground.
They kept coming, faster and faster,
The bullets that took the young men.
The allies attacked; again disaster.
Never had anyone been
In a war like this that took the lives of so many.
So many eighteen year old men.
To their deaths they took over the hill
The story of their days at Passchendaele.

Thiepval from across the Ancre

Context: The Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval is oriented east-west on a ridge above the river Ancre. This image shows the ridge from about a mile away on the far (western) side of the Ancre. The commanding position of the location betrays its origin - as the site of the German Leipzig Redoubt. The scene of intense fighting from the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916, this day one objective was finally taken in September.

Battle of the Somme, the Attack of the Ulster Division by J P Beadle. Beadle's painting is one of a number displayed in the Ulster Tower, a memorial to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division. The Tower is located near to the Schwaben Redoubt, which the Division attacked on July 1, 1916, and is also close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.  James Princip Beadle (1863–1947), was an English painter of historical and military scenes. Born in Calcutta on 22 September 1863, his father was Major-General James Pattle Beadle.


Somme Poem

The Somme
The rise and fall of ground I walked shows nought of battles fought
a gentle wood where birds now sing is now as heaven thought
but souls remain their place unmarked where unknown stood so strong
their names now left to trees and a gentle breeze to whisper lists so long
with honour and the side of right first soldiers thought as games
your countries plight has need of you as propaganda claims
this won’t take long in sorting out we’ll all be back by tea
alas how wrong this would all turn out and home they’d never see
the Generals safe and far behind did plan by dated ways
as many died in no man's land as down they fell in swathes
they said again that hill must fall and the cost its worth to all
but a telegram is all they get for loss of sons that fall
and thoughts are now of widows who’s child will not be born
to carry forth his name and future, now all alas forlorn
friend and foe were family men and both will bear the scar
that war is hell so the fight for peace is a better way by far
when you leave this place of war and peace, look back with hope and pray
that war will have no need again to pass along this way.
poem by ironmonger

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