CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Monday, July 28, 2014

RUDYARD KIPLING’S BOY: WWI BRITISH, GERMAN, AUSTRALIAN, RUSSIAN BATTLE SCENES

 

 

 

       

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Kipling was 16 when war broke out in August 1914. His father was a keen imperialist patriot who was soon writing propaganda on behalf of the British government.[1] He sought to get his son John a Commission but John Kipling was rejected by the Royal Navy due to severe short-sightedness. He was also initially rejected from the British Army for similar reasons. However, his father was friends with Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, commander of the British Army, and Colonel of the Irish Guards, and through this influence, Kipling was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the Irish Guards having just turned 17 in August 1914.[2] After reports of the Rape of Belgium and the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915, Rudyard Kipling came to see the war as a crusade for civilization against barbarism.[3] and was even more keen that his son should see active service.

After completing his training, John Kipling was sent to France in August 1915 (his father was already there on a visit, serving as a war correspondent).[4]

The casualty rate amongst junior officers in the trenches was extremely high, much higher than NCOs or other ranks - on average, a junior officer leading from the front survived six weeks before becoming a casualty (killed or injured).[5]

Kipling was reported injured and missing in action in September 1915 during the Battle of Loos. A shell blast had apparently ripped off his face. With fighting continuing, his body was not identified.

His parents searched vainly for him in field hospitals and interviewed comrades to try to identify what had happened. A notice was published in The Times on 7 October 1915 confirming the known facts were that he was "wounded and missing".

The death of John inspired Rudyard Kipling to become involved with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and write a wartime history of the Irish Guards. The poem My Boy Jack also alludes to the wartime loss of a son, although its themes are rather nautical.

Men of the Hertfordshire Regiment at summer camp in late 1914. This is one of a number of old First World War photographs to be digitally coloured

Men of the Hertfordshire Regiment at summer camp in late 1914. This is one of a number of old First World War photographs to be digitally coloured

Rowland Hill posing for a photograph in 1914 - such photos were common at the outbreak of the war when patriotism and national fervour swept country Jack and Walter Satterwaite posing for a photo before Jack, on the left, was killed in battle two years later. Walter was seriously wounded and died in 1962

On the left, young Rowland Hill poses for a photograph in 1914 - such pictures were common at the outbreak of the war when patriotism and national fervour swept the country. On the right, Jack and Walter Satterthwaite pictured before Jack, on the left, was killed two years later. Walter was seriously wounded and died in 1962

This photograph shows in vivid detail a group of territorial soldiers leaving a train station in Letchworth, Hertfordshire

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This photograph shows in vivid detail a group of territorial soldiers leaving a train station in Letchworth, Hertfordshire

They include Sergeant Jack Satterthwaite who is pictured stood alongside his younger brother Walter in front of a green hedge in the summer of 1914. He was shot and killed at Festubert, north west France, two years later.

Another image in the gallery that has been reproduced in colour was shot in 1920 - two years after the war - and depicts a town’s first armistice day commemorations at the newly-built war memorial. The distinctive red, white and blue of the Union flag draped on top of the memorial provides a striking contrast to the solemn black and brown overcoats worn by those gathered.

Most of the men photographed served in the Hertfordshire Regiment at the start of the war.

The black and white photos have been given the 21st century colour makeover to mark the opening of an exhibition to be staged by the Herts at War project on August 4.

Dan Hill, who is leading the project, said: 'In applying new technology to historic images previously seen only in black and white we are able to cross the century long divide and bring individuals back to life, if only for that one moment in time.

Wounded servicemen in their 'hospital blues' pose for a photograph in one of the 38 private residences converted into convalescent homes in Hertfordshire

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Wounded servicemen in their 'hospital blues' pose for a photograph in one of the 38 private residences converted into convalescent homes in Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire Regiment Territorials rest during summer camp on the eve of the outbreak of war. The images were coloured using Photoshop software

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Hertfordshire Regiment Territorials rest during summer camp on the eve of the outbreak of war. The images were coloured using Photoshop software

A Belgian refugee at work in Kryn and Lahy factory in Letchworth, 1915. The images were reproduced by Doug Giles, who painstakingly coloured in the pixels of the original photos

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A Belgian refugee at work in Kryn and Lahy factory in Letchworth, 1915. The images were reproduced by Doug Giles, who painstakingly coloured in the pixels of the original photos

'We are used to seeing photographs and film in the grainy images of 100 years ago and to see them enhanced in this way is a fantastic window into a war that seems ever more real as a result.

'We are proud to work with projects like colourising history in furthering the story of Herts at War as the centenary of the conflict approaches ever closer.'

The photographs have been reproduced by Doug Banks, of Colouring History.

He used Photoshop software to painstakingly colour in the pixels in the original photos.

He said: 'There is a bit of guess work in terms of getting the colours absolutely right and a bit of artistic licence is required.

'For instance, most of these photos were at the very start of the war so the uniforms would have been brand new and all been the same shade of khaki.

A battalion of the Warwickshire Regiment pictured parading in Hitchin market square on the way to war in August, 1914

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A battalion of the Warwickshire Regiment pictured parading in Hitchin market square on the way to war in August, 1914

 

A young girl on horseback poses for a photo with a Canadian trooper in 1917. The photos can be viewed at the Herts at War exhibition on August 4 The first Armistice Day parade in Letchworth Garden City, 1920      

On the left, a young girl on horseback poses for a photo with a Canadian trooper in 1917. Pictured right is the first Armistice Day parade in Letchworth Garden City, 1920

'One has to respect the content and whoever is in it and put aside what you think might look good in colour for the sake of it.

'I always start with the flesh and skin tones and try and relate to the people in the picture.

'Then I work on the clothing. People say that they were taken in black and white and they should remain that way but the people who lived through the war didn’t experience it in black and white.

'If there is just one person in the picture it would usually take me two or three hours but others have taken me half a day to do.'

One of the photos that have been reproduced shows a young boy wearing an army uniform in honour of the British soldier, much like how a child would wear a replica football shirt today.

Two other images show a Belgian refugee at work in a munitions factory in Letchworth Garden City in 1915 and wounded servicemen wearing their ‘hospital blues’ at a convalescent home in 1918.

The photos can be viewed at the Herts at War exhibition at Letchworth Garden City from August 4.

 

Despite so many of Britain’s streets being packed with history, it can be hard to imagine what was happening on them 100 years ago.

But these composite images show how places across London and further afield looked during the First World War compared to now.

In one photo, German prisoners of war are seen being marched on their way to Southend Pier in Essex accompanied by guards in 1914.

This archive image from the war has been matched with a present-day photo of the seafront in the sunshine, taken earlier this month.

Further up the east coast, wartime bomb damage in Lowestoft, Suffolk, has been matched up with a modern-day view of the same street.

And a view of London’s Sloane Street shows US troops marching in 1918, compared to a photo of it as a present-day shopping metropolis.

The new photos by Getty Images photographer Peter Macdiarmid have been matched up with archive shots from various image banks.

Other composites include images of Brighton, Bournemouth, Bristol, Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent and Great Dixter in East Sussex.

Then and now: German prisoners of war during the First World War on their way to Southend Pier in Essex in 1914 accompanied by guards and watched by locals

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Then and now: German prisoners of war during the First World War on their way to Southend Pier in Essex in 1914 accompanied by guards and watched by locals

Attention: King George V inspects troops in Bristol circa 1915, and taxis are seen lining up at Bristol Temple Meads railway station earlier this month

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Attention: King George V inspects troops in Bristol circa 1915, and taxis are seen lining up at Bristol Temple Meads railway station earlier this month

Convalescent home for soldiers: The Great Hall at Great Dixter in East Sussex. Also pictured is a visitor looking around in the present-day

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Convalescent home for soldiers: The Great Hall at Great Dixter in East Sussex. Also pictured is a visitor looking around in the present-day

Old and new: A 'male' MKIV tank at the Lord Mayor's show in 1917 in London, and a man crossing the road outside the Bank of England earlier this month

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Old and new: A 'male' MKIV tank at the Lord Mayor's show in 1917 in London, and a man crossing the road outside the Bank of England earlier this month

Colour: Officers at the Lancing College Officer Training Corps in West Sussex  in 1917, and an employee walking at Lancing College in the present-day

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Colour: Officers at the Lancing College Officer Training Corps in West Sussex in 1917, and an employee walking at Lancing College in the present-day

Destruction: A vintage postcard featuring bomb damage following the German bombardment of Lowestoft in April 1916, and a modern-day view of the street in Suffolk

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Destruction: A vintage postcard featuring bomb damage following the German bombardment of Lowestoft in April 1916, and a modern-day view of the street in Suffolk

Sport: Wounded soldiers playing football outside Blenheim Palace around 1916 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, and visitors this month standing on the South Lawn

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Sport: Wounded soldiers playing football outside Blenheim Palace around 1916 in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, and visitors this month standing on the South Lawn

Flags held high: US troops march down London's Sloane Street in 1918, which is also seen as the present-day area of Knightsbridge wealth

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Flags held high: US troops march down London's Sloane Street in 1918, which is also seen as the present-day area of Knightsbridge wealth

Day out: Indian soldiers who were wounded fighting at Flanders recuperate on Bournemouth beach in 1917, while modern-day visitors are also seen there

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Day out: Indian soldiers who were wounded fighting at Flanders recuperate on Bournemouth beach in 1917, while modern-day visitors are also seen there

Helping hand: Injured Indian soldiers of the British Army at the Brighton Pavilion, converted into a military hospital around 1915. It is also seen earlier this month

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Helping hand: Injured Indian soldiers of the British Army at the Brighton Pavilion, converted into a military hospital around 1915. It is also seen earlier this month

Taking a look: British soldiers inspect a captured German place on Horse Guards Parade in London in 1915, which is also seen present-day with the London Eye

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Taking a look: British soldiers inspect a captured German place on Horse Guards Parade in London in 1915, which is also seen present-day with the London Eye

Posted: Australian soldiers outside Egypt House in London, where The Australian Bank is housed in 1917. Officer workers are also seen outside on July 11 this year

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Posted: Australian soldiers outside Egypt House in London, where The Australian Bank is housed in 1917. Officer workers are also seen outside on July 11 this year

Discussions: Wounded soldiers and cadets at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Empire Day in May 1918, with a present-day colour view also seen in the background

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Discussions: Wounded soldiers and cadets at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Empire Day in May 1918, with a present-day colour view also seen in the background

Off they go: Departure of the Liverpool Scottish Regiment for the front from Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent in 1914, and a modern-day road sign

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Off they go: Departure of the Liverpool Scottish Regiment for the front from Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent in 1914, and a modern-day road sign

Zebra crossing: Serbian soldiers march in the Lord Mayor's show in London on November 9, 1918, and people walk past the Royal Courts of Justice in the present day

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Zebra crossing: Serbian soldiers march in the Lord Mayor's show in London on November 9, 1918, and people walk past the Royal Courts of Justice in the present day

 

World War One battle which saw Germany inflict critical defeat on Tsarist Russian
  • Battle made national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces overcame Russians
  • Some 200 history enthusiasts gathered today on hilly area in Szkotowo, northern Poland, to reconstruct battle
  • Engagement between Russian Second Army and German Eighth Army took place in early days of First World War
  • Russians had more than 50,000 killed and 92,000 taken prisoner, but the Germans only suffered 13,000 casualties

It was the fight that made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians.

Now, 100 years on from the crucial Battle of Tannenberg, some 200 history enthusiasts gathered today on a hilly area in Poland for its reconstruction.

The critical engagement between the invading Russian Second Army and the German Eighth Army took place in the early days of the First World War.

Historic: Members of a military club participate in the reenactment of The Battle of Tannenberg on the battlefield at Szkotowo in northern Poland

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Historic: Members of a military club participate in the reenactment of The Battle of Tannenberg on the battlefield at Szkotowo in northern Poland

Fighting: Actors dressed as German and Russian soldiers take part in the reenactment ahead of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War

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Fighting: Actors dressed as German and Russian soldiers take part in the reenactment ahead of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War

Engagement: The battle was fought by the Russian Second Army against the German Eighth Army between August 26 and 30, 1914

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Engagement: The battle was fought by the Russian Second Army against the German Eighth Army between August 26 and 30, 1914

Location: The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, Poland

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Location: The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, Poland

Hats off: The reenactment took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the original battle took place in August 1914

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Hats off: The reenactment took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the original battle took place in August 1914

Problem: The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall

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Problem: The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall

The reenactment was held on the site of the original battle, which in 1914 was in eastern Prussia, but which now lies in Szkotowo, northern Poland.

It took place just one day before the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, although the battle itself took place from August 26 to 30, 1914.

That month, two Russian armies had invaded German East Prussia. The first was under Paul von Rennenkampf and the second Aleksandr Samsonov. Rennenkampf’s army defeated eight divisions of the German Eighth Army at Gumbinnen on August 20 - but did not make contact with Samsonov.

Then, German commanders Erich Ludendorff and Hindenburg launched a huge attack against Samsonov’s isolated army at Tannenberg on August 26.

The lack of effective communication between the two Russian armies - separated by the Masurian Lakes - greatly contributed to their downfall.

Surrender: History enthusiasts from across Europe gathered in northern Poland to reconstruct the Battle of Tannenberg

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Surrender: History enthusiasts from across Europe gathered in northern Poland to reconstruct the Battle of Tannenberg

Tactics: The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former's army with a strong attack

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Tactics: The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former's army with a strong attack

Riding: Samsonov lost half of his army during the first few days of the conflict and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners

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Riding: Samsonov lost half of his army during the first few days of the conflict and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners

Numbers: The Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.

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Numbers: The Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.

Dressed up: Actors dressed as Russian soldiers perform an attack, as another actor dressed as an orthodox priest, left, prays, during the reenactment

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Dressed up: Actors dressed as Russian soldiers perform an attack, as another actor dressed as an orthodox priest, left, prays, during the reenactment

Important moment: Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons

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Important moment: Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons

Helping hand: The battle made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians

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Helping hand: The battle made a national hero out of German commander Paul von Hindenburg, after his forces crushingly overcame the Russians

The Germans intercepted wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, and surprised the former’s army with a strong attack.

Samsonov lost half of his army over the next few days and shot himself on August 30. By the end the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners.

Meanwhile the Russians had had more than 50,000 killed, while the Germans only suffered a total of 13,000 casualties.

One of the next fights that took place was the Battle of the Marne, which saw British and French troops defeat Germans advancing towards Paris.

However, Tannenberg was a significant defeat for the Russians, who had lost almost an entire army along with 400 guns and other weapons.

The battle also saw Hindenburg first come under the national spotlight, before the highly-decorated field marshal became Germany's president in 1925.

Onwards: Russian soldiers charge at Tannenberg, during a First World War battle that they would eventually lose

Onwards: Russian soldiers charge at Tannenberg, during a First World War battle that they would eventually lose

Over the top: A memorial was later constructed on the site to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle. Here, Cossacks are pictured on the attack

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Over the top: A memorial was later constructed on the site to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle. Here, Cossacks are pictured on the attack

Looking out: German commanders Paul von Hindenburg (left) and Erich Ludendorff (second right) launched a huge attack against Samsonov's isolated army

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Looking out: German commanders Paul von Hindenburg (left) and Erich Ludendorff (second right) launched a huge attack against Samsonov's isolated army

Archive photograph: Russian soldiers drop their weapons and surrender at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914

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Archive photograph: Russian soldiers drop their weapons and surrender at the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914

Following the fighting: German General Hermann von Francois surveys the destruction on the scene of the Battle of Tannenberg

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Following the fighting: German General Hermann von Francois surveys the destruction on the scene of the Battle of Tannenberg

Destruction: Buildings lay in ruins following fighting during the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914

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Destruction: Buildings lay in ruins following fighting during the Battle of Tannenberg in 1914

Loot after the battle: The Second Russian army was beaten destructively by the Eighth German Army under Hindenburg

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Loot after the battle: The Second Russian army was beaten destructively by the Eighth German Army under Hindenburg

Directions: This map shows what happened up to and including the battle, with Rennenkampf's army defeating the Germans at Gumbinnen on August 20

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Directions: This map shows what happened up to and including the battle, with Rennenkampf's army defeating the Germans at Gumbinnen on August 20

Mapped out: The Battle of Tannenberg happened on ground in what is now the village of Szkotowo in northern Poland

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Mapped out: The Battle of Tannenberg happened on ground in what is now the village of Szkotowo in northern Poland

The victory also brought renown for Ludendorff, and saw him made quartermaster general when Hindenburg was appointed chief of staff in 1916.

The fight is also sometimes known as the second Battle of Tannenberg, with the first taking place in 1410 when the Poles defeated the Teutonic Knights.

A memorial was constructed on the site under the direction of Hindenburg in 1927 to honour the German soldiers who died during the 1914 battle.

When Hindenburg died in 1934, his coffin was placed there and Adolf Hitler ordered the monument to be redesigned and renamed.

Nature at war: the world wars have become enmeshed with tree trunks in Russia

Long after the dust from the last battle has settled, the dead have been laid to rest and the confetti from the victory parade has been swept into the gutter, the nature continues to bear the scars of human conflicts.

A remarkable series of photos taken in a Russian forest have been making the rounds on social media sites, showing what happens over time to instruments of carnage discarded in the woods.

The striking images depict rifles, artillery shells, grenades and sapper shovels embedded in tree trunks - essentially swallowed up by the natural surroundings.

Echo of war: Described by a web user as a Mannlicher Carcano rifle circa 1891, this rusted out weapon has embedded itself in the trunk of a tree growing in a Russian forest

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Echo of war: Described by a web user as a Mannlicher Carcano rifle circa 1891, this rusted out weapon has embedded itself in the trunk of a tree growing in a Russian forest

Deadly machine: This Maxim gun from the 1930s was likely used during World War II that raged in Europe between 1939 and 1945

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Deadly machine: This Maxim gun from the 1930s was likely used during World War II that raged in Europe between 1939 and 1945

I heard the Ancre flow

At the Somme River, a hundred miles northwest of Verdun, the British launched an assault in July 1916. When it was over in October, one million men on both sides had died.

With fighting on the western front deadlocked, action spread to other arenas. A British soldier and writer named T.H. Lawrence (better known as "Lawrence of Arabia"), organized revolts against the Ottoman territories in Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula. With Germany preoccupied in Europe, Japanese and British Commonwealth forces seized German islands in the Pacific, while British forces conquered German colonies in Africa.

The military stalemate produced political turmoil across Europe. On Easter Monday, 1916, some 1,500 Irish Catholics seized buildings in Dublin and declared Ireland an independent republic. Fighting raged for a week before British forces suppressed the rebellion. British reprisals created great sympathy for the rebels. A two-year guerrilla war followed, which reached a climax in November 1920 when British troops fired at a soccer crowd, killing a dozen people--an event that became known as "Bloody Sunday." In 1921, Britain was forced to agree to the creation of a self-governing Irish Free State.

 
   

In Czarist Russia, wartime casualties, popular discontent, and shortages of food, fuel, and housing touched off revolution and civil war. In March 1917, strikes and food riots erupted in the Russian capital of Petrograd. Soldiers called in to quell the strikes joined the uprising; and on March 15, Czar Nicholas II abdicated. The czarist regime was replaced by a succession of weak provisional governments, which tried to keep Russia in World War I. On November 7, communist Bolsheviks led by V.I. Lenin overthrew the provisional government. Lenin promised "Peace to the army, land to the peasants, ownership of the factories to the workers."

In 1917, after two-and-a-half years of fighting, 5 million troops were dead and the western front remained deadlocked. This was the grim situation that awaited the United States.

Germany was desperate to break the stalemate and to end the war of attrition. In January 1917, they launched unrestricted submarine warfare, hoping to cripple the British economy. German subs sank a half million tons of Allied shipping each month, leaving Britain with only a six week supply of grain. But these German U-boats risked bringing the United States into the war.

WWI French Railroad Gun at Night detail no.2

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. I have the overall of this photograph uploaded for viewing.

Dangerous exhibit: Even today, nearly seven decades after Victory Day, it is still possible to come across an old unexploded bomb or a granade, like this one that somehow became lodged inside a tree

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Dangerous exhibit: Even today, nearly seven decades after Victory Day, it is still possible to come across an old unexploded bomb or a granade, like this one that somehow became lodged inside a tree

 

A Red Army helmet with a tree growing through it This tree was a skinny sapling when this helmet landed on it, possibly in the heat of a firefight      

Nature's triumph: These trees were skinny saplings when the helmets landed on them, possibly in the heat of a firefight

Remember the fallen: According to some estimates, more than 14million Soviet solders and officers perished in the Great Patriotic War

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Remember the fallen: According to some estimates, more than 14million Soviet solders and officers perished in the Great Patriotic War

Some of the most powerful images in the sequence show slender trees growing through gaping holes in Soviet Army helmets.

The shape and condition of the protective gear suggest that the helmets belonged to Red Army servicemen during World War II.

Given that each of the hard-hats is damaged, their owners most likely had met a violent end.

While little is known about the exact location where the images were taken, it is likely that the helmets came to rest on young saplings during a battle.

Over time, the maturing trees widened the bullet holes, and the helmets essentially became impaled.

Some of the so-called exhibits in this outdoor military museum include a Maxim gun circa 1891; a Mannlicher Carcano rifle circa 1891, and a 75milimeter shell from a light field gun. 

According to some estimates, the Soviet Union lost some 20million people, both military and civilians, over the course of four years between 1941 and 1945. At least 14million of the casualties were soldiers and officers.

The poignant photos capturing the rusted out vestiges of World War II overwhelmed by trees drive home the message that in the end, after all the medals are handed out to heroes and all the peace treaties are signed, the only true victor is nature.

Resting place: A 75milimeter shell from a light field gun burrowed into a tree somewhere in Russia

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Resting place: A 75milimeter shell from a light field gun burrowed into a tree somewhere in Russia

Marker: A sapper shovel with its corroded metal blade wedged firmly in a tree and its rotting wooden handle sticking out

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Marker: A sapper shovel with its corroded metal blade wedged firmly in a tree and its rotting wooden handle sticking out

   
   



 
 

 

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It was a conflict which would engulf millions of lives, end empires and change the face of the world - and war itself - forever.

One hundred years ago today the first shots rang out of what would later be called the First World War - though at the time it would have been hard to predict that the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia would spread like wildfire across Europe and beyond.

Armies of the great powers - the British Empire, Germany, France and Russia - had been swelling their armed forces, still made up of cavalry units and gleaming bright uniforms, for years.

But a new era of trenches, artillery and machine-guns would consign these relics to the past as fighting men from across the globe dug in for years of protracted combat which would also see the birth of chemical weapons, tanks and fighter planes.

As these evocative archive pictures show, the Great War took a bleak and heavy toll from the lands it touched, both on its landscape, settlements and - most of all - the fighters who never returned or came back scarred and crippled, who are still remembered today.

No-man's land: This U.S. soldier, who lies dead, entangled in barbed wire between rival trenches in northern Europe, was one of millions whose lives were claimed by war

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No-man's land: This U.S. soldier, who lies dead, entangled in barbed wire between rival trenches in northern Europe, was one of millions whose lives were claimed by war

Ecstasy of fumbling: Crippling chemical weapons including chlorine and mustard gas were used in a military context for the first time in the First World War, leading to soldiers on the front being issued with masks to counter the effects. Here British Machine Gun Corps soldiers bunker down during the first Battle of the Somme 

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Ecstasy of fumbling: Crippling chemical weapons including chlorine and mustard gas were used in a military context for the first time in the First World War, leading to soldiers on the front being issued with masks to counter the effects. Here British Machine Gun Corps soldiers bunker down during the first Battle of the Somme

Blasted to smithereens: A pensive soldier stands in the ruins of a religious building in Verdun, France, which was a heavily-contested battlefield

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Blasted to smithereens: A pensive soldier stands in the ruins of a religious building in Verdun, France, which was a heavily-contested battlefield

Waste and ruin: Pictured above are food stores deliberately burned to the ground. The First World War impacted the lives of civilians directly and painfully

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Waste and ruin: Pictured above are food stores deliberately burned to the ground. The First World War impacted the lives of civilians directly and painfully

Poignant: A rifle and a helmet are the only memorial which can be seen to a French soldier who died in the trenches at Verdun

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Poignant: A rifle and a helmet are the only memorial which can be seen to a French soldier who died in the trenches at Verdun

Shelling: The war was dominated by artillery fire, which battered towns and trenches for years on end. Above is pictured a German Howitzer firing on Paris

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Shelling: The war was dominated by artillery fire, which battered towns and trenches for years on end. Above is pictured a German Howitzer firing on Paris

War effort: Pictured are women at a munitions factory in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, producing shells for artillery batteries on the front lines

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War effort: Pictured are women at a munitions factory in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, producing shells for artillery batteries on the front lines

Swamped: Soldiers spent years manning a network of trenches which snaked across Europe. Pictured above is an abandoned trench at Ypres in Belgium

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Swamped: Soldiers spent years manning a network of trenches which snaked across Europe. Pictured above is an abandoned trench at Ypres in Belgium

War in the skies: Fighter planes were deployed for the first time during the war. Above a dogfight can be seen between fighters branded with the RAF logo and members of the German Luftstreitkräfte

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War in the skies: Fighter planes were deployed for the first time during the war. Above a dogfight can be seen between fighters branded with the RAF logo and members of the German Luftstreitkräfte

Over the top: Pictured above are British soldiers leaping over a trench with bayonet rifles as they charge towards their enemy - probably lying in wait with machine guns

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Over the top: Pictured above are British soldiers leaping over a trench with bayonet rifles as they charge towards their enemy - probably lying in wait with machine guns

 

     
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 Minister Lloyd 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.

Enlarge Grim-faced relatives bid farewell at Waterloo Station to two soldiers from the Household Battalion in 1914

Off to the front: Grim-faced relatives bid farewell at Waterloo Station to two soldiers from the Household Battalion in 1914

Enlarge Christina Broom photographs

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?

Enlarge The Bermondsey B'hoys

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

Enlarge 1st Life Guards

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 Fleming 2nd Battalion Irish Guards      


 

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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

Enlarge Soldiers with bayonettes

With masks to protect their faces, two soldiers practice their skills with the bayonet

Enlarge Indian officers

Proud service: Indian officers return from the front and visit the Royal Mews in 1915

Enlarge Grenadier guards

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.

  • Butte de Warlencourt is one of the most iconic features of the Great War

  • Was position of strength for German forces, and 'obsession' for British

  • Now it has been saved from bulldozers by Great War historians

Fortified with barbed wire, and defended by machine guns and mortar, it was once a symbol of the bloody Battle of the Somme - fiercely fought over by British and German forces. Now, the Butte de Warlencourt - one of the most iconic features of the Great War - stands overlooking the landscape of Northern France, almost unrecognisable. Overgrown and unkempt, the mound, once a position of great strength for German forces, affording them clear views across the surrounding countryside and their opposition, was destined to be bulldozed to make way for housing by French developers.

Fortified with barbed wire, and defended by machine guns and mortar, the Butte de Warlencourt was once a symbol of the bloody Battle of the Somme - fiercely fought over by British and German forces

Fortified with barbed wire, and defended by machine guns and mortar, the Butte de Warlencourt was once a symbol of the bloody Battle of the Somme - fiercely fought over by British and German forces

Now thanks to a band of World War One enthusiasts, the Butte will be restored to its former glory in time for the centenary of the Great War, next year

Now thanks to a band of World War One enthusiasts, the Butte will be restored to its former glory in time for the centenary of the Great War, next year. But thanks to a band of World War One enthusiasts, the Butte will be restored to its former glory in time for the centenary of the Great War, next year. The Western Front Association bought the site 23 years ago from a local farmer for £7,500 in a bid to preserve it for future generations, the Express reports.  The group has now chosen to transform it into a 'must visit' location. They plan to restore the pathway to the summit, install new walkways and handrails, and also place memorial benches around the site.  They will mount information boards on the mound explaining its historical significance. The project will start in the autumn and the group aim to be finished in time for next year’s commemorations. During the Battle of the Somme the Butte became an obsession. In German possession throughout 1916 it only came into Allied possession in 1917, after the German retirement to the Hindenburg line in February, despite an earlier attempt by British forces to gain control of it.  At 250ft the Butte had given German commanders clear views across the battlefields and on enemy lines.

German weapons are dumped on the Butte. At 250ft the Butte had given German commanders clear views across the battlefields and on enemy lines. Many British soldiers attributed their misfortunes to it

German weapons are dumped on the Butte. At 250ft the Butte had given German commanders clear views across the battlefields and on enemy lines. Many British soldiers attributed their misfortunes to it

King George climbing the Bute in 1917 - the year it fell into Allied hands, after the German retirement to the Hindenburg line in February

King George climbing the Bute in 1917 - the year it fell into Allied hands, after the German retirement to the Hindenburg line in February

The Western Front Association bought the site 23 years ago from a local farmer for £7,500 in a bid to preserve it for future generations, and now plan to make it into a 'must visit' location

The Western Front Association bought the site 23 years ago from a local farmer for £7,500 in a bid to preserve it for future generations, and now plan to make it into a 'must visit' location

The Butte de Warlencourt became significant to many as the final hurdle before the strategically-important town of Bapaume

The Butte de Warlencourt became significant to many as the final hurdle before the strategically-important town of Bapaume. According to Lt Colonel Roland Boys Bradford -  who was awarded a Victoria Cross for his role in an attempt to scale the mound and seize it from the Germans -  it 'loomed large in the minds of soldiers' in a battle which has since come to symbolise the horrors of warfare in World War One. In an account, he said: 'The Butte de Warlencourt had become an obsession. 'Everybody wanted it. It loomed large in the minds of the soldiers in the forward area and they attributed many of their misfortunes to it. The newspaper correspondents talked about "that miniature Gibraltar".' The Battle of the Somme started in July 1st 1916 and lasted until November that year.

British Troops going over the top to support an attack by XIV Corps on Morval during the Battle of the Somme. The battle has since come to symbolise the horrors of warfare in World War One

British Troops going over the top to support an attack by XIV Corps on Morval during the Battle of the Somme. The battle has since come to symbolise the horrors of warfare in World War One

The date of July 1, 1916, is remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. The Battle of the Somme began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died

The date of July 1, 1916, is remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. The Battle of the Somme began at 7.30am that day, and by the following morning 19,240 British soldiers had died

German prisoners helping to carry wounded British soldiers back to their trenches after an attack near Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme. The bloody fighting led to 420,000 British Army casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone

German prisoners helping to carry wounded British soldiers back to their trenches after an attack near Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme. The bloody fighting led to 420,000 British Army casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone. The bloody fighting led to 420,000 British Army casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone. The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000. But the Butte de Warlencourt became significant to many as the final hurdle before the strategically-important town of Bapaume. WFA's Bob Paterson told the paper the Butte was the 'jewel in our crown'. He said: 'Having saved it from destruction this piece of France will continue to be preserved as a fitting memorial to those of all nations who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fields that surround it. The WFA is appealing for sponsorship and donations towards the Butte de Warlencourt restoration project.

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

Second Battle of Passchendaele

File:Second Battle of Passchendaele - Barbed wire and Mud.jpg

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 the 1st 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

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