There are some places which have seen a lot of history. This is the case of Amiens and the Somme. The purpose of this post is to remember what has happend during the Great World War in those apparently peaceful locations.
At the start of the war, in August 1914, Amiens had been the Advance Base for the British Expeditionary Force. It was captured by the German Army on 31 August 1914, but recaptured by the French on 28 September. The proximity of Amiens to the Western Front and its importance as a rail hub, made it a vital British logistic centre, especially during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
Amiens was one of the key objectives of the German Spring Offensive which was launched on 27 March 1918. The German 2nd Army pushed back the British 5th Army, who fought a series of defensive actions. Eventually, on 4 April, the Germans succeeded in capturing Villers-Bretonneux which overlooked Amiens, only for it to be retaken by an Australian counterattack that night. During the fighting, Amiens was bombarded by German artillery and aircraft; more than 2,000 buildings were destroyed. On 8 August 1918, a successful Allied counter stroke, the Battle of Amiens, was the opening phase of the Hundred Days Offensive, which led directly to the Armistice with Germany that ended the war.
Their name liveth for evermore
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), British author, poet. Inscription carved over lists of the dead in the Commonwealth war cemeteries. From the Echoing Ecclesiasticus 44:14:
“Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore.”
These are only some of the many war cementeries in a 100km radius around Amiens. Australian, English, Canadian and more.
At Boisselle the earth heaved and flashed, a tremendous and magnificent column rose up in the sky. There was an ear-splitting roar drowning all the guns, flinging the machine sideways in the repercussing air. The earth column rose higher and higher to almost 4,000 feet (1,200 m). There it hung, or seemed to hang, for a moment in the air, like the 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.(Cecil Lewis – Sagittarius Rising, 1936)
The Lochnagar mine was laid by the British Army’s 179th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers underneath a German strongpoint called “Schwaben Höhe”. The mine was detonated at 7:28 am on 1 July 1916, the first day on the Somme. The Lochnagar mine, along with the Y Sap mine, were the largest mines ever detonated. The sound of the blast was considered the loudest man-made noise in history up to that point, with reports suggesting it was heard in London.
To be remembered. We shall not repeat this.
The title of this paragraph is telling everything.
In conclusion I would like to share with you some photos I’ve made on the track. A curiosity: the pic with the 2 trees, it is exactly like the Big Fish (movie) ad (check it here)!
Source for the historical text: Wikipedia.