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#4407409 - 02/25/18 08:10 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, as others have stated, jealous to the core. Being on the ground at historical places makes the hair on my neck stand up. Enjoy my friend.


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#4407416 - 02/25/18 08:43 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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18 June 1815: Waterloo Phase 3 -- the crisis

Napoleon was getting desperate. Observing British artillery repositioning along the opposing ridgeline, the French staff thought the allies were retreating. The Emperor ordered Marshal Ney to advance the cavalry. Squeezed between La Haie Sainte and Hougoumont, still in British hands, Ney advanced his masses of heavy cavalry through the tangled, five foot high rye and deep mud, aiming for the British lines west of the Brussels road. They crested the hill into batteries of artillery firing canister and grape. Behind them were formed squares of redcoats, half hidden in the tall grass. The cavalry fell in masses and could not break the squares. They fell back and reformed, repeating their attacks at least half a dozen times. The slopes were a morass, and mounds of dead and dying men and horses obstructed their way. As the afternoon slipped away towards evening, the Prussians now moved on Plancenoit in force. Napoleon, hoping to keep his men's morale up, spread the story that the men arriving on the French right were Grouchy's forces. He then played his last card, the Imperial Guard.

[Linked Image]
The slope up which Ney's many cavalry advances waded through the mud and tangled rye. Contrary to so many paintings, they advanced at an unsteady walk. The slope was more pronounced before being dug up to build the Lion Mound. That's an unfortunately placed natural gas installation in the foreground.

The men of the Old and Middle Guard were the Invincibles. For twenty years they had been the Emperor's final battering ram, and no one had stood up to them. They advanced to the pas de charge, struggling over the tangled bog and through the screaming horses and men. Cresting the ridge, they were shocked to find the British Guards in line, pouring volleys of disciplined fire into the dense French columns. Other battalions, including the 52nd, swept around to the right of the French advance. The Imperial Guard stalled, milled about, attempted return fire, and broke. The cry "La Guarde récule!" echoed down the valley. Wellington signalled the general advance.

[Linked Image]
This farm road climbs northwards up the British ridge between Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte. It marks the route of the Imperial Guard's advance -- and retreat. We are looking eastward across the valley here. The French lines are up the hill to our right, and the allied lines are farther along and up the hill to our left

[Linked Image]
Walking back eastwards along the ridge towards the centre of the allied lines. The fields off to the left are where the British squares held against Ney's cavalry. The Imperial Guard advanced from our right, cresting about where the roadway is. Of course, the ridge was smoothed out by the construction of the Lion Mound.


The Prussians pressed from Plancenoit to the Brussels road, where a little past La Belle Alliance Bluecher and Wellington met. The Prussians took over the pursuit. French attempts to rally were thrown aside. The Emperor's fate was sealed.

NEXT STOP: VERDUN



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#4407431 - 02/25/18 09:41 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Great photographs and interesting travel reports accompanying them!

I look forward to seeing and reading more. smile


"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."

James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps
#4407730 - 02/27/18 02:44 AM Re: OT - visit to the front (updated 26 Feb) [Re: Raine]  
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Verdun


[Linked Image] [Linked Image] [Linked Image]
The hills around Verdun have returned to forest, but the trenches and shell craters are everywhere. More than 80000 dead still lie where they fell beneath the forest floor. In many places here, no trees will grow because the land has been so poisoned with arsenic from explosives and with the residue of poison gas.

[Linked Image]
The ossuary near Fort Douaumont houses the bones of 130000 men of both the French and German armies. The crosses outside mark the graves of nearly 20000 more. Across the street there is a Moslem cemetery with 600 graves of members of the French colonial forces. The ossuary stands near the site of the destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont, which changed hands 16 times during the battle.

[Linked Image]
Monument to the destroyed village of Vaux. The inscription bears the words of President Poincare: "Passer-by, go tell others that this village died to save Verdun so that Verdun could save the world."

Next post: Fort Vaux

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#4407736 - 02/27/18 03:34 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Fort Vaux and the Trench of Bayonets

Fort Vaux fell shortly after Fort Douaumont. Built in the 1880s and updated shortly before the war, this fort was built to house about 150 men During the battle 250 men defended it, led by the redoubtable Major Reynal. The attack on the fort began on 2 June 1916. By 5 June, the Germans controlled the surface and had cut the fort off from assistant. Major Reynal asked for French artillery to shell his position so that some men could attempt a breakout. By the sixth, conditions inside were impossible. The Germans had poured fuel oil into the vents and ignited it, poisoning the air and destroying what little water remained. Breach parties attacked with flamethrowers. For two more days Reynal and his men held out. With phone communication cut, on 7 June Reynal sent a message by pigeon asking for relief. It ended with the words: "This is my last pigeon."

[Linked Image]
Rear of the fort

[Linked Image]
The land above the fort. You can see why Lou's 1918 model of the fort appears as a mere outline against the ground.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]
Interior galleries. The red paint on the walls indicated "bomb-proof" galleries. The collapse roof sections indicate otherwise.

[Linked Image]
The dressing station

The Trench of Bayonets

In June 1916, near the village of Fleury, the Germans launched an attack to take a salient west of Fort Douaumont. The attack began with a sudden, devastating barrage. At this location, men of the 3rd Company of the 137th Regiment stood in their trench, bayonets fixed. After the war, the former colonel of the 137th toured his former position and found the trench completely filled in by the shelling. Only a line of bayonets protruded from the earth, each still attached to its rifle, and each rifle accompanied by a body. Touched by the story of the trench of bayonets, American architect George Rand raised the funds to build the monument over the trench.

[Linked Image]
The Trench of Bayonets. Although it's difficult to make out, there are 12 inch square concrete slabs around each bayonet point that protrudes from the soil.

NEXT: Airfield tour!


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#4407743 - 02/27/18 07:54 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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ahhh Verdun. We have a local tour bus with a brilliant guide here. As I stood on top of the Fort. and looked at all the craters still visible, I had to wonder just what
these poor fellows had to go through. And in my minds eye, I could picture a Pfalz or Marane L flying nearby.

Last edited by lederhosen; 02/27/18 07:55 AM.

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#4407747 - 02/27/18 08:53 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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A patriotic movie from the 20's, not too cheesy and well made with great and very realistic combat scenes .


"Anyone can shoot you down if you don't see him coming but it takes a wonderfully good Hun to bag a Camel if you're expecting him."
Tom Cundall.
#4407764 - 02/27/18 11:56 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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French countryside
Verdun is probably the best region of the Western front to have an idea of what was WWI. The rest of the front in France is by far more agricultural, so the farmers did their job again after the war and erased a lot of war's scares. Verdun is a region of forest, so the shell holes, and trenches are visible everywhere in the forests.

About the Trench of Bayonets, rifles and bayonets were clearly visible 50 or 60 years ago, it was probably a more powerfull view at this time. Unfortunately, it suffered the "souvenirs raiders".

There is a tremendeous testimony of the war of the mines near Verdun also, la butte du Vauquois or hill of Vauquois. A village on the top of a hill that has been completly destroyed by large underground explosions. After the war, the village has been rebuild at another location nearby the hill.

Nice pictures Raine, I hope you enjoyed your trip.

#4407769 - 02/27/18 12:33 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Thanks for posting Raine.The story of the trench of bayonets was new ro me. It's hard to imagine that many men buried at one time while standing!


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#4407814 - 02/27/18 04:10 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Roudou,

I totally agree. Verdun is certainly the most evocative memorial to the horrors of the war, the most untouched area by far. It was also my first visit to Lorraine. I'm sorry I missed the butte de Vauquois. In one of my future posts I will share pictures of the Lochnagar crater near La Boiselle, which was breathtaking and very moving.

#4407860 - 02/27/18 06:23 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Kaa,

When we were at Fort Vaux, I saw several still photos from this film, and was told (as the movie itself says in the opening script) that many of the men in the film were veterans of Verdun, some even veterans of the defence of Fort Vaux.

#4408135 - 02/28/18 08:50 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Bertangles,

I remember reading a passage in which Arthur Gould Lee speaks of walking back to Bertangles from Amiens after a night on the town. The distance is truly not great, less than 9 km. The village of Bertangles is a pretty place, dominated by the chateau and its many outbuildings. The airfield straddles an east-west country road and is bisected by an north-south rail line running in a sunken way, with the east and west Bertangles fields diagonally across from one another. The southern part of the east field is likely the field sometimes called Poulainville (a village only about a kilometre off to the southeast). Bertangles was at different times home to more than a dozen squadrons. It was from Bertangles West that Lanoe Hawker took off for his final scrap with Richthofen, and it was from the same field that Roy Brown also went to meet the Baron. The east field was the home to 3 AFC, and Richtofen's body and shattered Tripe were brought here in April 1918. The communal cemetery in Bertangles was the site of von Richthofen's first burial, before he was moved to Berlin's Invalidenhof (where I saw his grave in 1970), and later to his family plot.

[Linked Image]
The chapel behind the Chateau of Bertangles

[Linked Image]
Plan of Bertangles fields, from Michael O'Connor's Airfield and Airmen: Somme

[Linked Image]
Looking east from the northern part of the West aerodrome to the southern part of the East aerodrome. Richthofen's funeral cortege left the AFC field across the rail line, moving right to left up to the road, and then turning up the road towards the village of Bertangles in the distance.

[Linked Image]
View looking to the west across the northern part of Bertangles West field. A plant making and recycling wooden pallets is situated near the rail line on the West field, north of the road on the spot where hangars once stood near the rail line. The concrete pad in the foreground appears to be the floor of a planned expansion of the plant.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]
The communal cemetery of Bertangles, where von Richthofen was interred in April 1918.

[Linked Image]
The only pilot's grave in the communal cemetery is that of 2Lt J.A. Miller of 24 Sqn RFC, who died 28 March 1918 when his SE5a crashed and burned while taking off from Bertangles. He was an American who had been born in Hawaii and who lived in Pasadena, California.

[Linked Image]
The front of the Chateau of Bertangles. It was used as HQ and mess for 14th (Army) Wing and 13th (Corps) Wing, and MGen Trenchard made it his forward HQ during the Somme battle. It later became the HQ for General Sir John Monash, commander of the Australian Corps. The King knighted him there in 1918.



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#4408140 - 02/28/18 09:32 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, thank you for these amazing photos.


"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys,
The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4408155 - 02/28/18 10:59 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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I second Fullofit's comments and I wonder if you know the reason why Miller's grave was left in the Cemetery since no other pilots graves remain.


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#4408168 - 02/28/18 11:35 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Robert_Wiggins]  
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Originally Posted by Robert_Wiggins
I second Fullofit's comments and I wonder if you know the reason why Miller's grave was left in the Cemetery since no other pilots graves remain.

Robert, I'm not 100% sure, but I think that many pilots were naturally buried where they fell, and those who returned injured but died later would have been buried near the CCS where they died. Most of the CWGC cemeteries are located next to former CCS or hospital sites. Miller, poor guy, crashed and burned right at Bertangles.

#4408203 - 03/01/18 02:31 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 26/2 [Re: Raine]  
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High over the Front
Thanks for taking the time to post the shots plus the research you did behind them.

#4408346 - 03/01/18 08:46 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED WITH BERTANGLES 28/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Vert Galant

It's a skip and a jump up the N25 toward Doullens to get from Bertangles to Vert Galant. The crossroad here has changed little in a hundred years, except that the Nissens and Bessoneaus and Armstrongs are gone.

[Linked Image]
This excellent map appeared on this forum a few years ago, and was (I believe) done by Olham. Ignore the note "photo view." My picture of the farm is taken looking north across the road from the field, just where is is note about tents and later Nissens.

[Linked Image] [Linked Image]

The L-Shaped farm at the northeast corner of the crossroads stands out in many of the period photos of the aerodrome, as it does here in this 1916 shot of 56 Squadron's Moranes. The farm building still stands (there was a chalkboard sign on the pavement outside advertising potatoes), but the roof at the two ends of the building are beginning to fall apart. I pray that the building is restored before some Philistine tears it down.

[Linked Image]
Even the buildings along the northwest side of the crossroads retain their wartime appearance.

[Linked Image]
View looking southwest from the eastern part of the aerodrome. Although it doesn't show here, the western field is marred by several wind turbines close to the crossroads.

[Linked Image]
View south from the crossroads.

[Linked Image]
View east towards the farm of Le Rosel. The hamlet around the farm has grown, but many of the original farm buildings remain.

Attached Files 20180213_111318.jpg20180213_111140.jpg20180213_111431.jpg20180213_111441.jpg20180213_112335.jpgVert Galant map.pngMoranes of 56 at Vert Galant.png
Last edited by Raine; 03/01/18 09:08 PM.
#4408351 - 03/01/18 09:13 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED WITH BERTANGLES 28/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Candas

As it was close to Vert Galant, I hunted down the site of No 2 AD at Candas. I believe it was Lee who complained about the grim, dull time spent there in the pilot pool, and the bad food that one got for high messing fees. It was a bit surprising how all the ground south of the village of Candas where the Depot was situated is a bit hilly, rising steadily to the south for a few kilometres.

[Linked Image]
This area seems, from the descriptions I could find, to be the most likely site for the depot. We drove about the village while I looked for a house which matched Baring's description of the one that served as RFC HQ during the Somme battles. I didn't find it, and realised only after returning home that the place I was looking for was in nearby Fienvillers.

It was here in Candas where the first Fokker Eindecker to fall into British hands was sent for testing. William Kennedy-Cochrane-Patrick took off from the aircraft park here, but soon found himself being chased over the countryside by four bloodthirsty British machines before he could put the Fokker down safely at a French aerodrome.

Attached Files 20180213_114520.jpg
Last edited by Raine; 03/01/18 09:22 PM.
#4408357 - 03/01/18 09:50 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED WITH BERTANGLES 28/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Wonderful photos and accompanying historic notes Raine and the aerial photo by Olham really helps with orienting your photos in ones mind. Thanks for taking the time to put this all together, it is much appreciated, and the next best thing to being there.


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#4408392 - 03/02/18 01:55 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED WITH BERTANGLES 28/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Great pics Raine!!
I should have looked for Vert Gallant when I was in France last June. I was at the Verdun, Fort Douamont &it’s cemetery, saw the monument to Vaux, trench of Bayonnets and like you the old trenches and scars of the old battlefield. Very solemn.

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