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#4402252 - 01/28/18 05:40 PM OT - visit to the front UPDATED 29/3 WITH BEAUMONT-HAMEL  
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Many years ago when I was just beginning my working life, I received a paper from my employer outlining the terms of my pension. It said I could retire on full pension at the end of the month in which I turned 65, on 30 June 2018. My boss remarked with a laugh that 2018 sounded like ^$%##@ science fiction.

Well, I'm pretty much there, although the company I worked for back in the 1970s -- and its pension plan -- have long ago ceased to be. I'm celebrating the milestone starting next week by visiting my older son in England, where he is the head of History and Politics at an independent school north of London. A fellow WW1 buff, he and I have planned a military history tour.

Our plans are to take the Eurostar to Brussels, then

Day 1: Quatre Bras and Waterloo (Mont St Jean). I'm a bit of a Wellington fan. Then drive to Verdun in late afternoon (possible side trip to Bastogne).
Day 2: Verdun all day. Drive to Amiens in evening.
Day 3: Cambrai sector aerodromes, Somme
Day 4: Vert Galand, Filescamp Farm, Arras
Day 5: Arras, tunnels, Vimy, and Ypres
Day 6: Channel area to Ghistelles and Ostend. Evening in Bruges
Day 7: Sightseeing in Bruges. Beer could be involved. Return to Brussels.
Day 8: Back to London.

If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, I'd welcome them. My son has a number of connections and ideas up his sleeve, having done this several times. I'll post some WW1 related photos here if you're interested.


#4402256 - 01/28/18 05:50 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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https://www.halvemaan.be/

Sante
shredward

ps. and Frituur Peter if his stand is in the market - best fries on the planet. He also has a shop. And, there's mussels to be had in the pub or at the Halve Maan - I forget which


We will remember them.
#4402257 - 01/28/18 05:54 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Shredward]  
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Shredward: Too great. It's officially on the agenda. Thank you!

#4402261 - 01/28/18 06:14 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Photos? By all means!


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.
#4402271 - 01/28/18 06:48 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Oh, have fun Raine! I did a tour of the key Canadian battlefields back in 2008. Arras was one of my favourite towns. Please, please share some photos when you return.

#4402288 - 01/28/18 09:30 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, if you don't post the pics I will be very very disappointed! Oh, and manage to sneak in a pic of you and your son quaffing a pint at a local bar or sidewalk cafe!

Have a great trip mate!


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#4402293 - 01/28/18 09:54 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, your trip sounds great! I've not been to those parts in 40 years, would love to get back. And you certainly better post pictures here of your travels. yep

.

#4402336 - 01/29/18 02:13 AM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Jealous!


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The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain,
From out of my arse take the camshaft,
And assemble the engine again."
#4402342 - 01/29/18 03:12 AM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome near Maldon, Essex

http://www.stowmaries.org.uk/


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#4402430 - 01/29/18 05:04 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Stache, thanks. Stow Maries has been on my list for a little while, but I can't make it on this trip. I arrive on a Thursday and we leave for Brussels on Saturday morning, so Friday is the only possibility and my son is working that day. Plus it's nearly four hours round trip and I want to spend some time with my grandson. I think we're heading for the Natural History museum later Friday afternoon to give the little fellow his biweekly dinosaur fix. I'll save Stow Maries for next trip, though.

#4405168 - 02/14/18 05:34 PM Re: OT - Suggestions for visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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I'm more than halfway through my week at the front. Unfortunately I can't seem to access my photos at day's end to post them. Next week I'll share the most interesting ones.

The agenda has been great. Sunday was Napoleonic day. We walked Quatre Bras and Waterloo. Monday we toured the hills around Verdun, and took a great tour of Fort Vaux. Tuesday was air war day. We began by walking Bertangles East and West, and visited the site of Richthofen's first grave. Then we went to Vert Galant, where the old farm still stands. Then we found Filescamp Farm, and discovered that the operator of the old Titus farm seems to have cannibalized an old Nissen as a tractor shed. Stopped at the town hall in Doullens where the Entente settled on a unified command under Foch. We ended the day by going to Vimy Ridge, where we toured the tunnels. Today we did the Somme fields, beginning at Lochnagar Crater, then I walked the path of my grandfather's advance with 7/8 KOSB on 1 July 1916 from Carney to Montauban, then we visited the Australian war memorial at Posieres. After that I found the site of Bertincourt - Velu aerodrome where Boelke built KEK North, after which we went to Thiepval and Beaumont-Hamel.

More to follow. Tomorrow we head for Ypres.

#4405217 - 02/14/18 10:52 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Can't wait to see the photos Raine, and get all the details! Enjoy the rest of your tour Sir.

#4405220 - 02/14/18 11:05 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Originally Posted by Raine
I'm more than halfway through my week at the front. Unfortunately I can't seem to access my photos at day's end to post them. Next week I'll share the most interesting ones.

The agenda has been great. Sunday was Napoleonic day. We walked Quatre Bras and Waterloo. Monday we toured the hills around Verdun, and took a great tour of Fort Vaux. Tuesday was air war day. We began by walking Bertangles East and West, and visited the site of Richthofen's first grave. Then we went to Vert Galant, where the old farm still stands. Then we found Filescamp Farm, and discovered that the operator of the old Titus farm seems to have cannibalized an old Nissen as a tractor shed. Stopped at the town hall in Doullens where the Entente settled on a unified command under Foch. We ended the day by going to Vimy Ridge, where we toured the tunnels. Today we did the Somme fields, beginning at Lochnagar Crater, then I walked the path of my grandfather's advance with 7/8 KOSB on 1 July 1916 from Carney to Montauban, then we visited the Australian war memorial at Posieres. After that I found the site of Bertincourt - Velu aerodrome where Boelke built KEK North, after which we went to Thiepval and Beaumont-Hamel.

More to follow. Tomorrow we head for Ypres.


You make me jealous Raine! I can't wait to see all those wonderful photos and when opportunity presents itself, chat with you about the adventure. Keep having a great vacation and personal time with your son.


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#4405565 - 02/17/18 12:54 AM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Well, Raine, I hope you're having a wonderful time! Truly I do! Not jealous a bit, why would you think that?

Seriously hope you are having a great time! You can "figger out" this pics when you get back! pilot


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#4406860 - 02/23/18 12:43 AM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Not quite the Western Front: Quatre Bras, 16 June 1815

Our first day was spent on two battlefields of Napoleon's last campaign: Quatre Bras and Waterloo. Having escaped from his first exile on the Isle of Elba and landed in the south of France, the Emperor marched on Paris and the armies sent by King Louis XVIII to stop him largely defected to their old commander. Over the spring of 1815, Napoleon -- once again the ruler of France -- set about building and equipping a new army. He was surrounded by enemies. To the east, Russia and Austria were scrambling to reestablish their armies. To the north, the Prussians under Bluecher and the Anglo-Dutch forces under Wellington were bivouacked in Belgium, Bluecher in the east of the country and Wellington in and to the west of Brussels.

On 15 June 1815, the French army crossed the Sambre at Charleroi and took the most direct route to Brussels. The Emperor hoped to shatter the Prussian army before it could join with Wellington, and then turn of Wellington and take Brussels. This, he hoped, would bring the enemy coalition to the peace table and secure France for him and his son.

He split his forces, attacking Bluecher at Ligny with two corps plus the Imperial Guard and much of his cavalry. He dispatched Marshal Ney, who had joined him only a couple of days before, to probe up the Brussels road as far as the crossroads hamlet of Quatre Bras. If Ney took and held Quatre Bras, Wellington's British, Dutch, Belgian, Hanoverian, and Brunswick troops could not move to assist the Prussians, and the plan to defeat the enemy in detail would be secured.

[Linked Image]
Looking south along the Brussels road. This is the view the first allied troops on the field had. The farm just left of the road is Gemioncourt, which was held by Dutch-Belgian light troops. In 1815 there was a substantial wood about 800 metres to the right of this road, the Bois du Bossu. It was held by other Dutch-Belgian troops and is, unfortunately, gone today.

[Linked Image]
Gemioncourt. It has not changed much in 202 years.

[Linked Image]
Looking north towards the direction from which allied units arrived as the day's battle proceeded. Quatre Bras is in the distance. Picton's 5th Division deployed to the right of the crossroads. Eventually the Guards' Division approached Quatre Bras from the left of the town. By late afternoon both sides had exhausted themselves and Quatre Bras remained in allied hands. The Prussians were defeated at Ligny, and Wellington had been unable to reinforce Bluecher, but the Prussians were able to avoid a rout and fell back to the north (not to the east, as Napoleon intended). This preserved the possibility of allied cooperation farther up the road towards Brussels. A tactical draw, the battle was a strategic victory for the allies, although a narrow one.




Attached Files Brussels road south.jpgGemioncourt.jpgBrussel road north.jpg
Last edited by Raine; 02/23/18 12:52 AM.
#4406863 - 02/23/18 01:06 AM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Le Caillou, north of Genappe and south of the field of Waterloo. 17 June 1815

The day after Quatre Bras saw the allies trudging north in an apocalyptic downpour, the Prussians falling back on Wavre and ineffectively pursued by a third of Napoleon's army under Marshal Grouchy, which the Anglo-Dutch forces withdrew to Mont-St-Jean, a ridge astride the Brussels road just south of the village of Waterloo. The British fought a gallant rear guard action all day, with cavalry clashes and dashing horse artillery action holding back the French pursuit.

Napoleon made his headquarters on the night of 17 June 1815 at the farmhouse of Le Caillou, just north of the village of Genappe and several kilometres south of the Mont-St-Jean field. At breakfast on the 18th he met his commanders, laid a carpet over the breakfast tables and spread his maps, and then spelled out his plans to destroy Wellington's army and seize Brussels. Cautioned by Marshal Reille, Marshal Soult, and others who had faced Wellington in Spain and Portugal, he snapped ""Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad troops, and this affair is nothing more than eating breakfast."

[Linked Image]
Le Caillou, Napoleon's last headquarters

[Linked Image]
The tables where Napoleon ate breakfast and where he laid out his maps to brief his generals on the morning of Waterloo

[Linked Image]
The orchard of Le Caillou, where the Foot Guards of the Imperial Guard, the Emperor's personal guard, spent the night before Waterloo in driving rain.

More to follow next week -- don't worry, after Waterloo comes the Western Front!

Attached Files Le Caillou.jpgThe breakfast table.jpgLe Caillou field.jpg
#4406924 - 02/23/18 01:10 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Those are some fine pictures. Looks like an enjoyable time was had!

#4407153 - 02/24/18 03:22 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, those are some gorgeous photos, thanks for sharing. And I must admit, I am more than a bit jealous at this point. smile2

.

#4407400 - 02/25/18 07:01 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Waterloo, 18 June 1815: The opening phase at Hougoumont

The retreat from Quatre Bras to the ridge of Mont-St-Jean, the field of Waterloo, continued throughout the day of 17 June 1815. Violent thunderstorms and sheeting rain soaked the exhausted soldiers of both sides. There was no shelter to be had and men shivered in the open fields all night, huddled together for warmth. The British commissary wagons were still struggling down the road from Brussels. Wellington's men were tired and hungry. Across the shallow valley, Napoleon's army of the North struggled through cloying mud and rye the height of a man to find their positions. Many French cavalrymen slept in their saddles, which did no favours to their horses.

The sun began to break through after dawn on Sunday, 18 June. Peninsular veterans told their unblooded comrades that British victories seemed always to come after a good soaking. At Le Caillou Farm, Napoleon explained his plan to his generals. The Brussels road and the farm of La Belle Alliance would form his centre. Reille's 2d Corps would form left of the road, the western side. D'Erlon's 1st Corps, which saw no substantial action on the 16th, would form to the right of the road. Lobau's 4th Corps would be in Reserve to the right of the road, together with the cavalry. The Imperial Guard would be in reserve astride the road. More than 80 guns would form a Grand Battery right of the road, on a shelf in the shallow slope down from La Belle Alliance towards the Anglo-Dutch lines. Reille was to attack the walled chateau and farm of Hougoumont, which anchored the allied right. Wellngton would be forced to reinforce his right, weakening the centre, where the walled farm of La Haie Sainte formed a forward position on the Brussels road. The breakthrough would come in the centre, between Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte. With the forest of Soignes at his back, Wellington's army would be routed. Napoleon planned to spend the night in Brussels.

Off to the east, Marshal Grouchy was pursuing the defeated Prussians, keeping them from supporting Wellington's army. The ground was waterlogged, making it very difficult to move the heavy guns. Napoleon delayed the attack, waiting for the ground to dry. Shortly after 11 am, a gun sounded, signalling the start of the most significant day of the 19th century. Jerome Bonaparte's division of Reille's corps marched down the slopes to Hougoumont, the critical feint that would draw away Wellington's reserves, weakening his centre.

[Linked Image]
Jerome Bonaparte's men drove the Dutch-Belgians and British from the woods south of Hougoumont, and from the surrounding gardens and orchard, but the light companies of the British Guards regiment held onto the walled farm itself despite a succession of assaults. Hougoumont became a battle within a battle. Despite its importance to the allies' ability to hold their position, Wellington resisted the temptation to reinforce it to any great degree, trusting that the Guards would hold.

[Linked Image]
A particularly unattractive fellow contemplating the same scene. Must have been here for the past 202 years from all appearances. Interestingly, there are still a couple of very old chestnut trees that were once part of a more substantial small wood on the south side of the farm, closer to the French lines. The trees are still peppered with holes from musket balls.

[Linked Image]
The interior of Hougoumont. The chateau is gone, but the other buildings remain. The chapel at centre housed the wounded during the battle, many of who burned to death when howitzers set fire to the roofs of the buildings.


[Linked Image]
During the afternoon the French were able at times to complete surround the farm. A giant officer, nicknamed Le Gros, smashed open the north gate with an axe. Colonel MacDonnell of the Guards and a group of guardsmen counterattacked and were able to force the gates closed again and bar them once more. A British corporal grabbed a young French drummer boy and pulled him to safety inside where he would become the only survivor of the breaching party.

[Linked Image]
The north gate today. The sculpture was added for the bicentennial of the battle in 2015, when the British Government financed a large restoration project at Hougoumont. The casual visitor to Waterloo today would be forgiven for assuming that it was a great French victory with some vague Belgian involvement. The Emperor's name and face seem to be everywhere and Belgian monuments abound, while Wellington references are scarcely seen.










Attached Files Hougoumont.jpg20180211_152923 (Large).jpg20180211_152041 (Large).jpg20180211_144917 (Large).jpgNorth gate at Hougoumont.jpg
#4407408 - 02/25/18 07:56 PM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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18 June 1815: Waterloo -- the second phase -- D'Erlon's attack

Jerome's "feint" at Hougoumont drew in ever greater numbers of men. Napoleon sensed that the time had come for the main blow at the centre. At the Grand Battery pounded the opposing ridgeline, D'Erlon's 1st Corps of infantry stepped off. Their objective was the fortified farmhouse of La Haie Sainte and the sunken Ohain road that ran along the top of the ridge on the British side of the valley. Most British troops were in a reverse slope position, vulnerable only to shot rebounding over the crest. Wellington commanded his men to lie down, and many of the shots passed over them. One Dutch-Belgian battalion (they were soldiers of the recently unified Kingdom of the Netherland) had formed on the front slope. Torn apart by French shot, they routed.

[Linked Image]
The view loooking south from the Ohain road at the top of the British ridge. The tree-lined road on the right is the Brussels road. In 1815 there were no houses along the road in the valley, save for La Haie Sainte, which is out of the scene on the right. The white building on the road at skyline (above the left side of the light-coloured field) is a recent extension to La Belle Alliance (the original building is still there - it's a nightclub), where Napoleon set up a table and watched the battle unfold. You can see the fold, or shelf, in the far slope, just at the back of the large ploughed field at centre. This was where the 80-gun grand battery was set up. Plancenoit lies just to the left of this view, about 2 km away over the far ridge.

La Haie Sainte was held by the King's German Legion, German soldiers in British service. Its south-facing gate was gone (someone had unwisely burned it to keep warm during the night) and was barricade with farm carts and debris. The French surrounded the farm, but the KGL troops inside held the position. Riflemen of the 95th (remember Sharpe?) occupied a gravel pit across the road from the farm. They were forced back. The French pushed through the holly hedges that then lined the Ohain road and emerged onto the open fields of the reverse slope. British General Thomas Picton (dressed in civilian clothes and carpet slippers since his luggage had gone missing) pushed his Highlanders forward to exchange volleys. Then, at the pivotal moment, General Uxbridge ordered the British heavy cavalry forward. The heavy horses of the Blues and Royals, the Enniskillings, and the Scots Greys advanced at the trot, passing through the hedge and down the slopes into the mass of French infantry, turning D'Erlon's corp into a fleeing mass. Carried away by their success, the British horse ignore the Rally calls and continued as far as the French Grand Battery. Their horses blown and men exhausted, they milled about in the mud of the valley. Then it was the turn of the French light cavalry, the dreaded Lancers, together with several battalions of heavy cuirassiers. The French shattered the British survivors.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
La Haie Sainte is today a working farm in private hands. Just behind me as I took this shot there is a small copse and a dip in the ground among the trees. This is the gravel pit where companies of the 95th, the Rifles, kept up a killing fire until forced back across the Ohain road. We wandered down the Ohain road to the east (Wellington's extreme left flank), where a convent now stands. There the view is similar to 1815. The lane is still slightly sunken and bordered with holly hedges as it was during the battle.


By this time, men in dark uniforms were emerging from the woods to the east of the battlefield. It soon became clear to Napoleon that Grouchy had failed and the new arrivals were men of two corps of the Prussian army. He dispatched Lobau's corps and the Young Guard from his reserve to hold his right flank, near the village of Plancenoit, against the Prussians.

A later second French attack took La Haie Sainte and pushed up to the sunken road, but advanced no farther. The crisis of the battle was at hand.

[Linked Image]
Here we are walking westward along the Ohain road, the top of the British ridge. On this side of the Brussels road, the ridge is no long as dominant as it was in 1815. In 1820, the Belgians sent a small army of workmen to dig up much of the ridge and build the massive Lion Mound, seen here in the centre of the picture. The Mound marks the place where the 20 year old Prince of Orange fell to a French sharpshooter. The Prince was nominally in command of the Anglo-British forces, but actual command was passed to Wellington since the Prince lacked any real experience. Wellington's comment when he first saw the Lion Mound was "They have ruined my battlefield."

Attached Files 20180211_132923 (Large).jpg20180211_135414 (Large).jpgKnotel_-_The_storming_of_La_Haye_Sainte.jpg20180211_132921 (Large).jpg
#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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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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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.

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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.

#4408397 - 03/02/18 02:32 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED WITH BERTANGLES 28/2 [Re: Raine]  
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Deej, did you get farther north along the front? This was a bit of a bucket list trip. My son is a history teacher and a great First War buff. I played tour guide for the air war stuff and he played tour guide for everything else.

#4408813 - 03/04/18 12:12 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 1/3 WITH VERT GALANT AND CANDAS [Re: Raine]  
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L'Etoile du Nord
.

Raine, a giant sincere "Thank You" for sharing all these photos and info from you're fantastic trip. Makes me want to get back over there again so very much. I can't quite believe that it's been 40 years since I was tramping around England and Europe. Where the hell does time go?!

.

#4409019 - 03/05/18 07:32 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 1/3 WITH VERT GALANT AND CANDAS [Re: Raine]  
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Filescamp Farm

After watching Robert's progress with his excellent Izel / Filescamp mod, and after researching Filescamp for my DiD campaign stories, I was very excited to see the place. Really very little has changed over the past century. Fielscamp is still a working farm (I'd love to know if it's owned by the descendants of M. Titus, so we weren't able to go traipsing around the fellow's fields, but these shots show as much as I could see.

[Linked Image]
Key to the photos below

[Linked Image]
Fig.1: The turnoff in the village of Izel-les-Hameaux onto Rue de Filescamps.

[Linked Image]
Fig 2: Filescamp Farm viewed from the embankment beside Rue de Filescamps, a slighly sunken lane, looking ENE.

[Linked Image]
Fig 3: Looking north along the tree line at the western edge of Filescamp Farm. This is the location of the row of Bessoneau hangars. There were huts flanking the northwestern edge of the farm at the top end of this slight rise. The orchard is no longer as full as described in 1917. It, too, would have been at the top of this rise, right of the tree line. Or perhaps Mother Nature has simply turned down the tree density for a better frame rate. None of the trees at left were there during the war. That area was all airfield.

[Linked Image]
Fig 4: Looking into the farm today. Unfortunately, the oldest buildings can't be seen clearly from the road because of the more recent outbuildings. We speculated whether the shed in the foreground is a repurposed wartime Nissen, but I think it's probably in far too decent shape for that.

[Linked Image]
Fig 5: Looking east along the field north of the farm (The trees at left are the farm perimeter). Here you see clearly that the field had a distinct hump north of the farm (the contour lines on wartime maps show a clear rise here).

Next posts: Doulens, Duisan Cemetery, Albert, the Somme (Pt 1)





Attached Files 20180213_122843.jpg20180213_123137.jpg20180213_124413.jpg20180213_123742.jpg20180213_124829.jpgFilescamp Farm map.jpg
#4409037 - 03/05/18 08:52 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 1/3 WITH VERT GALANT AND CANDAS [Re: Raine]  
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Raine;

Much delighted to see your pics of Filescamp, and the accompanying map makes it easy to relate the photos. Thanks mate!

It is interesting to note your comments below photo #5 about the distinct hump of land. Interestingly this is also evident in the Filescamp mod I built for WOFF. I guess my position was bang on or I just got lucky on that one.


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#4409051 - 03/05/18 09:33 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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Robert,

After flying from Filescamp with your mod, I felt right at home there! notworthy pilot

#4409055 - 03/05/18 09:41 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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Thanks for the acknowledge Raine. There are some aspects I would still like to Polish but that will be in a later update.


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#4410245 - 03/12/18 05:27 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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Raine Offline
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Vimy and Doullens

After leaving Filescamp, we drove to Arras with brief stops at a CWGC cemetery at Duisan. We had planned to visit the Wellington tunnels, but time was running out so we headed straight to Vimy instead, as both the Vimy Memorial site and the Wellington tunnels closed at five o'clock.

[Linked Image]
The Vimy memorial, designed by Canadian sculptor / architect Walter Seymour Allward, is built from limestone brought from a Roman-era quarry in Croatia. The names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose final resting place is unknown are carved around its base. The memorial was built between 1925 and 1936.

[Linked Image]
The figure of "Canada Bereft", one of a number of large sculptures on the memorial, was carved from a single 30-tonne block. She looks east over the Douai Plain.


[Linked Image]
One of the young Canadian guides at Vimy realised that my son and I were real history buffs (the poor girl asked me what I thought of Bishop's claims and got a 20 minute dissertation on statistics in response). She graciously said that since the weather was cold and it was late in the day, they could probably release her to give us a much more detailed tour than normal. This shot is taken in the tunnels under the ridge that were built to allow the first waves to emerge close to the German lines. The tunnels have, however, been greatly enlarged and sanitised for visitors, and do not give a real picture of what they were like in 1917.

[Linked Image]
On our return to Amiens from Vimy, we paused in Doullens. This is the town hall, where on 26 March 1918, French and British commanders met to coordinate their defence against the German spring offensive. General Foch emerged as the choice for supreme commander, and this appointment was confirmed shortly afterwards.

Next up: Somme Pt 1.

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Last edited by Raine; 03/12/18 05:50 PM.
#4410267 - 03/12/18 08:04 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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Raine, thanks again for sharing your pictures and experiences. I suspect that you and your son are considered valuable assets now to the tour guide!!


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#4410285 - 03/12/18 09:40 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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High over the Front
Indeed. Many thanks!
This thread would go along nicely with Olhams old threads he did about various historical locations using Google maps and Street View.

#4410286 - 03/12/18 09:53 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 5/3 WITH FILESCAMP FARM [Re: Raine]  
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Hey Raine.

Isn’t that whole area very solemn!! My wife and I were there last June and I was totally blown away at the Vimy monument, trenches, tunnels-the whole area really. We had gone Ypres first and went to the Menin Gate; my great uncle served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and was KIA 03/1916 near St. Eloi. I located his name on the monument. Anyhow glad you made it there to visit and share your experiences. Very nice pics too! Cheers!

#4410586 - 03/14/18 11:56 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 12/3 WITH VIMY AND DOULLENS [Re: Raine]  
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Lochnagar Crater, Posieres

Our first stop on the Somme battlefield was Lochnagar Crater, near the village of La Boisselle, just a kilometre or two SW of Posieres, on the Albert-Bapaume road. On 1 July 1916, it fell to III Corps of the BEF to advance NE in line with the Albert-Bapaume road and seize La Boisselle. The village sits on a low spur with shallow valleys to the west and east ( called Mash valley and Sausage valley respectively). The Germans fortified the village heavily, and their front line trenches ran SE of Boisselle across Sausage Valley to Fricourt Farm and Fricourt Spur, flanking the British advance. Across the Albert-Bapaume road, the German lines ran due north through the fortified hamlet of Ovillers across the road, and continued towards Thiepval.

At 0730 on 1 July, the attack began with the advance of the 34th Division along Fricourt Spur. Although they enjoyed some initial success, heavy enfilade fire from La Boiselle and the German trenches in Sausage Valley stalled the lead units. Facing La Boiselle, the attacking brigades had a wide area to cross to reach the enemy lines. Just southwest of La Boisselle, a German strongpoint called the Schwabenhoehe commanded the open ground. But since the preceding November, tunneling companies of the Royal Engineers had been mining for nearly 300 metres across the valley and had placed 30 tons of ammonal below the Schwabenhoehe. At 0728 the mine was sprung, creating a crater 70-90 meters (300 ft) across on the interior and 20 metres (66 ft) deep. Heavy fighting ensued around the lips of the crater, inside of which an entire company of German defenders had perished. Prior to Messines, this was the largest man-made explosion in history.

If you've read Cecil Lewis's Sagittarius Rising, you'll recall his description of the explosion of this mine and the "Y Sap" mine, another giant mine on the opposite side of La Boisselle: "We were over Thiepval and turned south to watch the mines. As we sailed down above all, came the final moment. Zero! At Boisselle the earth heaved and flashed, a tremendous and magnificent column rose up into the sky. There was an ear-splitting roar, drowning all the guns, flinging the machine sideways in the repercussing air. The earthly column rose, higher and higher to almost four thousand feet. There it hung, or seemed to hang, for a moment in the air, like a silhouette of some great cypress tree, then fell away in a widening cone of dust and debris. A moment later came the second mine. Again the roar, the upflung machine, the strange gaunt silhouette invading the sky. Then the dust cleared and we saw the two white eyes of the craters. The barrage had lifted to the second-line trenches, the infantry were over the top, the attack had begun."

By day's end, III Corps had suffered 11000 casualties. La Boiselle was still held by the Germans.

[Linked Image]
The Cathedral of Albert with its famous golden Madonna and Child, so well modelled in WOFF

[Linked Image]
Lochnagar Crater

[Linked Image]
Looking east from Lochnagar Crater to Fricourt Spur. In the Somme area, lighter soil is an indicator of former trench lines, in this case German. The underlying chalk disturbed by digging still whitewashes the surrounding clay.

[Linked Image]
A model tank on the Tank Corps monument about 700 m NE of Posieres on the Albert-Bapaume road. This is where, on 15 September 1916, tanks first went into action. In 1944, this model tank was accidentally hit by a US fighter which was strafing a German column on the road. The hole (and bullet) are visible in this picture.

[Linked Image]
The Tank Corps Monument

[Linked Image]
Across from the Tank Corps Monument on the north side of the road is the Australian War Memorial, commemorating the many losses they suffered in capturing Posieres on 23 July 1916. The Australian attack came under enfilading fire from a German strongpoint around Posieres Windmill. The windmill, smashed by artillery, was not captured until 5 August 1916. This view of the remains of the windmill is adjacent to the Australian Memorial.



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#4410588 - 03/15/18 12:08 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 12/3 WITH VIMY AND DOULLENS [Re: Raine]  
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Brilliant! Thanks for sharing Raine.


"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."
#4410589 - 03/15/18 12:10 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 12/3 WITH VIMY AND DOULLENS [Re: Raine]  
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Thanks for sharing Raine. The overcast day you took the photos does add to the somber scene. Can't begin to imagine what it would have looked and felt like for Lewis when he observed the explosive moment. His description can't truly convey the experience.


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#4412673 - 03/25/18 06:25 AM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Originally Posted by Raine
Le Caillou, north of Genappe and south of the field of Waterloo. 17 June 1815

The day after Quatre Bras saw the allies trudging north in an apocalyptic downpour, the Prussians falling back on Wavre and ineffectively pursued by a third of Napoleon's army under Marshal Grouchy, which the Anglo-Dutch forces withdrew to Mont-St-Jean, a ridge astride the Brussels road just south of the village of Waterloo. The British fought a gallant rear guard action all day, with cavalry clashes and dashing horse artillery action holding back the French pursuit.

Napoleon made his headquarters on the night of 17 June 1815 at the farmhouse of Le Caillou, just north of the village of Genappe and several kilometres south of the Mont-St-Jean field. At breakfast on the 18th he met his commanders, laid a carpet over the breakfast tables and spread his maps, and then spelled out his plans to destroy Wellington's army and seize Brussels. Cautioned by Marshal Reille, Marshal Soult, and others who had faced Wellington in Spain and Portugal, he snapped ""Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad troops, and this affair is nothing more than eating breakfast."

[Linked Image]
Le Caillou, Napoleon's last headquarters

[Linked Image]
The tables where Napoleon ate breakfast and where he laid out his maps to brief his generals on the morning of Waterloo

[Linked Image]
The orchard of Le Caillou, where the Foot Guards of the Imperial Guard, the Emperor's personal guard, spent the night before Waterloo in driving rain.

More to follow next week -- don't worry, after Waterloo comes the Western Front!

Awesome! Napoleonic era is another favorite period of mine. I even have a Napoleon Total war campaign waiting for me to come back at some point lol. Just too hooked on Woff atm.=)

#4412674 - 03/25/18 06:29 AM Re: OT - visit to the front [Re: Raine]  
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Awesome pics!

#4413209 - 03/28/18 12:42 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 14/3 WITH LOCHNAGAR CRATER AND POSIERES [Re: Raine]  
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Montauban, Thiepal, Bertincourt-Vélu aerodrome

[Linked Image]
The road from Carnoy to Montauban on the south flank of the 1 July 1916 push. These are the fields over which my grandfather's regiment advanced that day. I have a piece of shrapnel picked up here on my desk. The objectives were taken in this sector due to the effective and concentrated fire plan and the good support received from the French on the right flank.

[Linked Image]
The British Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, inscribed with the names of 72,085 soldiers with no known grave. On 1 July 1916, British X Corp advanced here into uncut wire and the fire of 30 machine guns -- with predictable results.

[Linked Image]
Remnants of a German OP and the Ulster Memorial, just north of Thiepval. The memorial tower is built on the site of the Schwaben Reboubt, eventually taken by the 36th (Ulster) Division. I picked up a rusty section of German barbed wire a few feet from this place.

[Linked Image]
Site of Bertincourt-Vélu aerodrome, where Jasta 2 was founded under Boelke on 10 August 1916, Von Richthofen reported here when he joined the unit at the beginning of September. We are looking south towards the village of Bertincourt where the pilots were billeted

[Linked Image]
The aerodrome was to the right of this road on the near side of the woods. We are now looking in the opposite direction from the previous shot, north towards the village of Vélu, just out of sight over the far ridge.

[Linked Image]
This shot is taken from the field close to where I stood for the previous photo, but looking 45 degrees to the right (i.e. northeast). As you can see, the ground sloped down to the road. Although hangars and sheds were built all along the tree line, the main flying field was on the high ground to the right.



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#4413214 - 03/28/18 01:27 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 14/3 WITH LOCHNAGAR CRATER AND POSIERES [Re: Raine]  
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Thanks again Raine. Great pictures. It’s like being there, when reading your descriptions.


"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."
#4413261 - 03/28/18 11:49 AM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 14/3 WITH LOCHNAGAR CRATER AND POSIERES [Re: Raine]  
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Raine fantastic experience you had! I really appreciate your sharing the photos.


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#4413267 - 03/28/18 12:17 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 14/3 WITH LOCHNAGAR CRATER AND POSIERES [Re: Raine]  
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Thanks a lot for this fantastic tours and your explanations, Raine.

#4413565 - 03/29/18 07:48 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 27/3 WITH MONTAUBAN AND THIEPVAL (SOMME) AND BERTINCOURT-VELU AERODROME [Re: Raine]  
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Beaumont-Hamel

Beaumont-Hamel holds a special place in the soul of Newfoundlanders. Newfoundland was a British colony in 1916, and did not join Canada until 1949. The Newfoundland Regiment, now the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, was part of the British 29th Division at the Somme. On 1 July 1916, its 800 men were part of a third wave. After the first two waves HQ were confused and thought the German front line trenches were at least partially taken. They therefore released the 1 Nfld and 1 Essex battalions. The communications trenches from the Newfoundlanders' second-line trench to the British front-line trenches were clogged with dead and wounded and under intense bombardment, so the men had to advance an extra 200 metres above ground just to reach their jumping-off point. The objectives were a further 500 m. The land here is flanked by higher ground on both sides and the German machine-gunners had excellent enfilading positions.

Eight hundred Newfoundlanders began the advance on the morning of 1 June 1916. That night, only 68 men answered the roll call. Few made it to the objective, being pinned down well short. Later in the day an officer of the KOSBs (from the first wave) gathered about 40 men from the shellholes and pushed up to the objective, but could not hold it.

[Linked Image]
The caribou is the regimental symbol. This is one of five identical statues that mark battle sites of the Newfoundland Regiment. A sixth identical bronze statue can be seen in St. John's, NL. When I saw it there I was told that the St. John's statue is facing east to Beaumont-Hamel, where an identical statue faces west to Newfoundland. Romantic, but false. The Beaumont-Hamel statue fittingly faces east towards the objective. The base of the statue is covered in rocks and plants from Newfoundland.

[Linked Image]
Looking east to the objective from a position close to the British front-line trenches. The German lines were close to the cemetery in the distance.

[Linked Image]
Not far from the start line stood a small and shattered plum tree where, for the most part, the attack faltered amidst uncut wire and intense machine gun fire. The men christened it the "Danger Tree." The original tree did not survive. This is a replica.

Next posts: Ypres salient


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Last edited by Raine; 03/29/18 07:59 PM.
#4413572 - 03/29/18 08:17 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 27/3 WITH MONTAUBAN AND THIEPVAL (SOMME) AND BERTINCOURT-VELU AERODROME [Re: Raine]  
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And to add to Raines account of the attack. not only did they jump off from the reserve trenches, but if you stand where the German trenches were, you can see that anyone approaching from the British trenches, because of the lay of the land, is silhouetted against the skyline. The Germans picked their ground well.
Cheers,
shredward


We will remember them.
#4413573 - 03/29/18 08:23 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 27/3 WITH MONTAUBAN AND THIEPVAL (SOMME) AND BERTINCOURT-VELU AERODROME [Re: Raine]  
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Thx for sharing, Raine. You can feel the mood and terror of the past.

#4413677 - 03/30/18 12:04 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 27/3 WITH MONTAUBAN AND THIEPVAL (SOMME) AND BERTINCOURT-VELU AERODROME [Re: Raine]  
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My visit to Verdun in 1983 changed my perspective on being a soldier. After that I made our unofficial motto "Prepared To Fight, But No Too Proud To Hide!", which was quite suitable for a Special Weapons Ordnance/MP unit at the time.


Service To The Line,
On The Line,
On Time

US Army Ordnance Corps.
#4413723 - 03/30/18 02:44 PM Re: OT - visit to the front UPDATED 27/3 WITH MONTAUBAN AND THIEPVAL (SOMME) AND BERTINCOURT-VELU AERODROME [Re: MajorMagee]  
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Originally Posted by MajorMagee
My visit to Verdun in 1983 changed my perspective on being a soldier. After that I made our unofficial motto "Prepared To Fight, But No Too Proud To Hide!", which was quite suitable for a Special Weapons Ordnance/MP unit at the time.
i

I love it! I've noticed a difference in leadership ethos between army (especially infantry) and navy. Naval officers who say "follow me" to their crew don't need to worry about checking over their shoulder a bit later to see if anyone is actually there.

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