PIERRE's PHOTO IMPRESSIONS of the WESTERN FRONT
1914-1918
QUICK LINKS to part 1 of a FRONT SECTOR
    CATEGORIES - BATTLEFIELDS
    LAST REACTIONS
    SEARCH ENGINE
      NAVIGATION TIPS
        SITE MAP
          GREAT WAR for ROOKIES
            ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS - SOURCES
              Some of P.'s DUTCH WW1 ARTICLES
              VIEW TIPS
              Attention!
               
               
              VIEW TIPS 
              * "Lees meer" = 
                                    READ MORE 
              * "Volgende" =
                                    NEXT
              * Scroll down and down
                 in this left column for a
                 COMPLETE LIST  of
                 ALL English   
                 Photo Impressions
                 and Dutch articles!
              * Use Pierre's
                 SEARCH ENGINE! Also
                 on top of your screen.
              * Zoom in with
                 Control - Plus
              * Reset screen
                 with
                 Control - 0
              * This site is best
                  viewed on a screen
                  of 1024x768 pixels,
                  or larger, type F11,
                  to get the largest
                  screen, possible
                  in your browser. 
              ---------------------------------
              Recently Released

              Photo Impressions?

              Visit my

              Front Page

               
              Pierre Grande Guerre
              shows his
              photo impressions
              of his trips along
              the Western Front
              with his selfmade photo's,
              historic pictures,
              and maps.
              Few words,
              many pictures,
              and many links.
               
              Pierre
               
               
              Warning: Sometimes on the battlefield
              you will still find relics of explosives.
              All these shells, hand grenades, and
              mortar rounds can even nowadays still
              be very dangerous.
              Some of the artillery bombs may contain
              poison gas, which can cause severe
              blistering or worse injuries.
              In France it is by law forbidden to
              remove relics from the battlefield.
              So, it is for your own safety:
              take a picture of the steel harvest,
              but leave these relics untouched!
              ----------------------------------------------

              Follow daily Pierre's 

              World War I News

              Links Service on

              Facebook

              Reactions are welcome

              on Facebook or via

              pierregrandeguerre@hotmail.nl

              ---------------------------------------------

               
              Pierre is a Dutch member
              of the Canadian
              Central Ontario Branch
              of the Western Front
              Association,
              In 2015 awarded with
              a lifetime membership!
               
              And a member of:
               
               
              The Western Front
              Association Nederland
              -------------------------------------------
              This website is and
              intends to remain free
              of any commercial
              advertisements!
              It has no financial benefit at
              all for its webmaster!
               
               
              Are you not familiar with
              the backgrounds & causes
              of the First World War?
               
              Read my 5 illustrated pages:
               
              ______________________
              Got lost? Click HERE!
              _______________________
               
               
              Dutch Readers!
              Nederlandstalige lezers,
               
              Lees Pierre's artikelen
              en columns over
              de Grote Oorlog
              en klik op
              of ga verder naar onderaan
              deze kolom.
               
               
              Read also:
              Pierre's BOOK REVIEWS !
                
               
              Pierre is the author
              of the Dutch book,  
              "De Rode Duivels in de
              Vogezen - 1914-1915 -
              Een geïllustreerde
              reconstructie van de
              krijgsverrichtingen
              van het 152e
              Régiment d'Infanterie" 
               
               
               
              Klik  voor de details
              Prijs: € 15,- pdf-versie
              ------------------------------
              -------------------------------------------
              LINKS TO THE SPECIAL

              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS

              NEW! Pierre's Illustrated

              Lecture "Verdun 1916" - (Dutch)

              Pierre's illustrated

              WFA-NL lectures:

              The Tactical Significance 

               of General Gaede - (Bilingual)

              The Difficult Start

              of the L.I.R. 123 - (Eng)

              De Moeizame Start van

              het L.I.R. 123 - (Dutch)

              De Rode Duivels

              op de Hartmannswillerkopf (Dutch)

              De Blauwe Duivels

              in de Vogezen (Dutch)

              Botchkareva en haar

              Vrouwenbataljon (Dutch)

              Mata Hari -

              Het Spionagedossier (Dutch)

              More Special

              Photo Impressions

              of the Western Front (English) 

              Armistice Clearing Compiègne

              Kaiser's Exile Huis Doorn

              Cambrai

              Fort de Mutzig - Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II

              Colmar and Hansi, the Illustrator 

              The Red Baron's Crash Site

              Canadian National Vimy Memorial

              SOMME 1918 The Australians

              Fricourt Archeological Excavations

              Traces of Bairnsfather  - Xmas Truce

              Yorkshire Trench and Dugout

              Bayernwald Trenches Inside 

              LINKS TO ALL
              BATTLEFIELD
              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS
              in the CORRECT SEQUENCE

              AISNE 

              Chemin des Dames part 1 

              Chemin des Dames part 2 - Dragon's Cave

              Chemin des Dames part 3     

              ALSACE LORRAINE

              The Gap of Charmes - La Trouée de C.

              Avricourt - Leintrey - Reillon - Montreux - Parux 

              Montreux German Front Walk

              The Battle of Morhange - 1914

              French Bunkers - Mnt. Grand Couronné 

              South of Metz - German Bunkers -

              Feste Wagner 

              ALSACE VOSGES NORTH

              Tête du Violu - Bernhardstein

              Chaume de Lusse - Haute de Faîte

              Bertrimoutier - Frapelle  

              Ban de Sapt - La Fontenelle

              Senones - la Roche Mère Henry

              Col de la Chipotte - de la Chapelotte

              The Donon - Bunkers - Dug-outs

              ALSACE VOSGES  

              Col du Bonhomme Col de Mandray

              Tête de Faux - Buchenkopf 

              Col du Wettstein - Schratzmännele

              Lingekopf - le Linge  

              Kleinkopf - Barrenkopf 

              Hohrodberg-Giragoutte-Trois Epis  

              Reichackerkopf  

              Munster Valley Petit Ballon  

              Le Tanet - Bichtstein - Villa Sidi-Brahim

              Route des Crêtes - Hohneck -

              Gr. Ballon - Sudelkopf 

              Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand  

              Guebwiller - Rimbach - Hirzstein  

              Moosch Nécropole Nationale  

              ALSACE SUNDGAU  

              Zillisheim Illfurth Largitzen Pfetterhouse 

              Burnhaupt-le-Bas Bunker Path     

              ARGONNE

              Mort Homme Côte 304

              Montfaucon- Romagne s/s Montfaucon

              Butte de Vauquois

              Haute Chevauchée

              The Bunker of the German Crownprince

              ARTOIS

              Illies - Wicres    

              Neuve Chapelle - Richebourg

              Aubers - 1915 

              Fromelles - 1916  

              Neuville-St. Vaast - Souchez

              Notre Dame de Lorette 

              Loos

              Arras Wellington Quarry

              Vimy Ridge

              Lichfield Crater

              CHAMPAGNE

              St. Hilaire le Grand Russian Cmty  Mont Navarin

              Sommepy Mont de Blanc Mont

              La Main des Massiges

              MARNE 

              Verberie Néry Villers Cotterêts  

              First Battle of the Marne   

              Belleau Wood - Château Thierry  

              Second Battle of the Marne

              SAINT MIHIEL

              Les Eparges Ridge

              Calonne Trenches Tranchée

              Fort de Troyon

              Apremont Forest Trenches

              Butte de Montsec

              Rémenauville Destroyed Village

              le Bois le Prêtre / das Priesterwald 

              SOMME British Sector

              SOMME INTRODUCTION

              Auchonvillers Trench

              Mine Craters Lochnagar Hawthorn

              Thiepval Memorial Mouquet Farm  

              Thiepval Wood - Ulster Tower

              Ovillers La Boiselle

              Hawthorn Ridge Beaumont Hamel

              Redan Ridge 

              Newfoundland Memorial Park  

              Serre Hébuterne 

              Sheffield Memorial Park Serre

              Gommecourt 

              Fricourt Deutsche Kriegsgräberstatte 

              Contalmaison 

              Mametz Wood 

              Trones Wood Montauban Guillemont

              Caterpillar Valley Longueval 

              High Wood Longueval

              Delville Wood Longueval

              Pozières  

              Martinpuich

              le Sars Butte de Warlencourt

              Flers Gueudecourt

              Adanac Canadian Cmty. Mireaumont

              SOMME French Sector 

              Bouchavesnes

              Rancourt Cimetière National

              Rancourt Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof

              Dompierre - Becquincourt Fay Soyécourt

              Flaucourt Biaches

              VERDUN

              VERDUN Citadel 

              Thiaumont - PC 118 & 119 - A 320

              Road To Fort Douaumont       

              Fort de Douaumont

              Douaumont Nécropole Nationale  

              Côte Froideterre - Les 4 Chéminées 

              Fort de Souville 

              Fort de Vaux 

              Tunnel de Tavannes Fort

              La Voie Sacrée

              Bois des Caures - Col. Driant's C.P. 

              Flabas German Reprisals Camp

              The German Camp Marguerre 

              Duzey German 380mm Artillery Base

              Destroyed Villages Bezonvaux - Ornes

              Azannes - Damvillers - La Grande Montagne 

              YPRES

              Menin Road Railway Wood

              Maple Copse - Hill 62 - Hooge

              Clapham Junction Zandvoorde Bunker

              Polygon Wood Zonnebeke

              Hill 60 - Hollebeke -

              St. Elooi - Lankhof Farm

              Messines Ridge

              Pilkem Ridge

              Boezinge Essex Farm Ziegler Bunker

              Langemark Poelkapelle St. Juliaan

              Passchendaele Ridge

              Mount Kemmel Lettenberg Bunkers

              Ploegsteert Wood

              YZER

              Nieuport Ramskapelle

              Pervijze  Stuijvekenskerke

              Diksmuide Trench of Death 

              Leke Vladslo Houthulst

              OTHER GREAT WAR LINKS

              Pierre's Nederlandstalige
              artikelen en columns
              over de Grote Oorlog
               
              (Copy & Paste de titel in de
              zoekmachine!) 
               
              Bochkareva en haar Vrouwenbataljon
              Bretonse Bécassine tijdens de Oorlog
              De Vanceboro Bridge Bomaanslag
              Beneath Hill 60
              Tijdreizen Op Internet
              Leutnant Von Forstner Koopt Chocolade
              Duitslands Oudste Oorlogsvrijwilliger
              Marcel's Bajonet
              Souvenir de Bezonvaux
              Namibië-Etnische Zuivering-1904-1908
              Het Beleg van Fort de Vaux
              Explosiecatastrofe In Fort Douaumont 
              Franse Aas der Azen: René Fonck
              Chasseurs Alpins, Franse Alpenjagers
              Prowse Point Cemetery
              Hoe Sgt. Kunze Fort Douaumont
                 veroverde op 25-02-1916.
              Frank Hurley: Fotoshoppen In 1917
              De Kaiserschlacht,
                 een beknopte samenvatting.
              Herdenking Op Douaumont 2008
              Wapenstilstand 1918 -90 Jaar Geleden
              Vijfde Lustrum WFA Nederland,
                 11-10-2008.
              Geur van Drukinkt
              De Vallei van Munster
              Der Rote Baron Versus Flyboys 
              De Fantomen van Landowski
              Louise de Bettignies -
                 Queen of English Spies
              Monument Op Vimy Ridge
              De Erewacht van
                 Notre Dame de Lorette
              Tank Tegen Tank 90 Jaar Terug
              Von Richthofen's Laatste Noodlanding
              Generaal Von Lettow Vorbeck
              Grafschennis Notre Dame de Lorette
              Google Earth 
              De Kaiserschlacht 90 Jaar Geleden 
              De Wolfsberg - le Hamel
              Overleden Veteranen
              Franse Sector Aan De Somme
              Kerstbestand 1914
              Raadselachtig Graf
              Caporetto; Kiem Van Fascisme
              Lenin's Treinreis
              Tsjechen Aan Het Westelijk Front
              Mata Hari
              325 Miljoen Voor 12 Zeppelins
              Slagvelden Van de Somme
              Schroot
              Op de Lingekopf
              Weinig Duitse Monumenten
                  Somme
              Soldaten Standbeelden
              Mosterdgas 1917
              Schwaben Redoubt
              Oogst Van Roest
              Mortier
              De Tekenaar Hansi
              Gifgas Bij Vancouver Corner
              Nationaliteit Kwijt?
              Beloond Geduld
              Prins Harry Naar Irak
              Thiepval
              De Arm Van De Kaiser
              Artilleriebunkers Nabij Duzey
              Kamp Flabas
              Eerherstel voor "Deserteurs"
              Vredig plekje?
              Moslimmonument in Verdun 
              Bayernwald
              De Slag aan de Somme
              De Tunnel van Tavannes
              Kapitein Joost van Vollenhoven
              Huis Doorn
              Update
                 “Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje II
              Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje I 

               

               












              Neuville-St. Vaast - Souchez
               
              Artois: 
               
              Neuville-St. Vaast - La Targette -
               
              Mont St. Eloi -  Cabaret Rouge -
               
              Souchez - Ablain-St. Nazaire
               
              years of visit: 2008 - 2014. 
               
               

              With some exceptions this route focuses on the Route de Béthune,  the D 937, between Arras and Souchez. The Route de Béthune formed the axis of the battlefield of the Second and Third Battle of Artois. North of Arras and west of Ecurie we start this route on the D 49e1 with a visit to the Leuregans Monument standing on the former site of the  “Labyrinth”, south of Neuville-St.Vaast. From there we continue our route via the D 937 with a visit to the “Neuville-St.Vaast Deutsche Kriegsgräberstätte”. Next we continue northward to the la Targette memorials, with a short detour westward to the hill of Mont St. Eloi. From there we return to la Targette to continue northward visiting the la Targette Czechoslovakian War Cemetery, the Polish War Memorial, the former location of the Cabaret Rouge tavern, the Cabaret Rouge British War Cemetery, and the General Sabot Memorial at Souchez. We finish this route at the foot of the hill of Notre Dame de Lorette, at the ruins of the St. Nazaire church in Ablain-St. Nazaire. In between I will explain briefly in several frames the background of these sites during the Second and Third Battle of Artois.

              We start at the D 49e1, west of Ecurie, following the hollow road northward to Neuville-St. Vaast. After some 500 m. we enter the location of “The Labyrinth”. Some 500 m. farther we stop at …

               
              ... a modest monument for a young war hero, Augustin Leuregans, with an interesting inscription:
               
              "AUGUSTIN LEUREGANS
              JUNIOR of the 236th INFANTRY REGIMENT
              FELL HERE GLORIOUSLY
              in his 19th YEAR
              WHILE CALLING THIS APPEAL TO HIS COUNTRYMEN
              COME ON MY OLD DADDIES
              YOU WILL NOT ALLOW
              YOUR CHILD TO DIE ALL ALONE  
               
              HERE
              THE 53RD DIVISION OF  XX CORPS
              OF GENERAL BERTHELOT
              AND THE SUPERIOR COMMANDER GENERAL BALFOURIER
              HAS FOUGHT ENERGETICALLY IN MAY AND JUNE 1915
              FOR THE CONQUEST OF THE LABYRINTH "
               
              In the frame below I explain the background to this site of the memorial.
               

              The Second Battle of Artois and "The Labyrinth"

              The Second Battle of Artois, 9 May - 18 June 1915

              During the Great War there have been three Battles of Artois. This frame focuses on the Second Battle of Artois and the French contribution to these battles.

              The French Commander-in-Chief, Général Joffre, requested support for his Artois offensive from British units under Field Marshal Sir John French, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force. On 9 May 1915 the British launched in their front sector, more to the north, a pincer attack on  Festubert, Neuve Chapelle, and Aubers Ridge.

              Five Army Corps of the 10th Army of Général d'Urbal launched an offensive at Notre Dame de Lorette, Neuville-St.Vaast and Vimy Ridge.

              Crown Prince Rupprecht Von Bayern 's 6th Army defended this front sector. Remarkably: Rupprecht (1869-1955) was on average 15 years younger than the French generals.

              At 6.00 AM, the French artillery began a preliminary bombardment of 4 hours. After this bombardment the French infantry attacked. The German positions along the "Route de Béthune", the D 937, Notre Dame de Lorette Hill and Vimy Ridge were the main targets of the offensive.

              Géneral Pétain's XXXIII Army Corps made a fast progress in the sector between Souchez and Neuville-St. Vaast.

              Général Balfourier's XX Army Corps attacked Neuville-St. Vaast.

              The Moroccan Division, part of the XXXIII Corps, reached almost the upper heights of Vimy Ridge.

              (Memorial for the Moroccan Division at Vimy Ridge)

              Pétain however had gone too fast and too far to the east, and his troops were pushed back by the 1st Bavarian Reserve Division.

              At Notre Dame de Lorette XXI Corps of Géneral Maistre attacked again upward the 165 m. high hill.

              Maistre knew to conquer the summit of the hill at 12 May. But it would take another 10 days before the hill was cleared of Germans.

              On 18 June 1915 the Second Battle of Artois came to an end. The French conquered Notre Dame de Lorette, Ablain-St. Nazaire, and Neuville-St. Vaast. A large part of Souchez and Vimy Ridge, however, including the surrounding lower levels, would stay in German possession until 9 April 1917.

              "The Labyrinth"

              "The Labyrinth" was the French name for a German trench network south and south-west of Neuville-St Vaast. The Labyrinth was a maze of barbed wire obstacles, trenches, underground tunnels and dug-outs, all fortified with machine-gun posts.

              On the first day of the Second Battle of Artois, on 9 May 1915, Général Berthelot's 53rd Infantry Division of XX Corps attacked the Labyrinth.

               

              The situation of the Labyrinth during the day A. Leuregans fell

               

              The day that the young Leuregans fell, 30 May 1915, was perhaps the bloodiest day for the 53rd Division during the 5 weeks of battle for the possession of the Labyrinth. On the 30th the 236th Infantry Regiment (236e R.I.) deployed its troops for a new attack on the Labyrinth.

              On its left flank the 319e R.I. attacked and on its right flank the 136e R.I. The main target of the attack was the German trenches of “Triangle Z”, between the road to Ecurie and the Route de Béthune, and the German trenches, called “Boyeau d'Haubourg” and “ Boyeau d'Eulembourg”.   
               

              One of the centre points of the fights was a mine crater near Trench Z, which the 19th Company attacked. The 17th Company attacked Trench Z from trench A3, A4, and A5.

              At about 16.00 hrs, the 21st and 24th Companies attacked the “Boyeau d’Eulembourg” or Trench C, east of the Ecurie-Neuville road.  The companies “seemed to have reached the German barbed wire and perhaps the trenches”, but including all officers “none of them reappeared”.

              During the attack the 236 R.I. lost more men, a.o. 3 Captains, of whom two were mortally wounded, and one severely wounded.

              To offer you a modest impression of these bloody fights I translated this fragment from the 4 and a half pages of the war diary of 30 May of the 236e R.I.:

              “The Platoon of the 19th, they too attacked the defenders of the mine crater, occupied by the Germans and the bunker on the crossroads of the hollow road Ecurie-Neuville and it could not advance. Simultaneously some men of the 21st (Company), grenadiers, arrived on the east side of the mine crater and engaged in fighting launching hand grenades, during which, after having experienced significant losses caused by the enemy, they succumbed.

              Here should be noted the fine audacity of the German soldiers and (Company) Viart, who, after this fight, have succeeded, after having fought like lions, to escape the German fire and who have returned next to our lines thanks to the night and who have departed again on their own initiative to search for wounded men on the terrain.” 

              The Fate of Augustin Leuregans
               

              Being the commander of his section, mainly composed by older men of around 40 years old, the 19 year old Aspirant Officer Leuregans and his men were stuck in a semi-underground shelter under German fire. His older soldiers were reluctant to launch a counter-attack. To convince them to attack Leuregans turned to his men, speaking his last words: “COME ON, MY OLD DADDIES, YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO DIE ALL ALONE!” After this appeal Leuregans was immediately killed. His act of bravery dissuaded his men from going on with the fight!    

              The Capture of the Labyrinth

              Finally, after a preliminary artillery bombardment of 300.000 shells the 53e D.I. captured the Labyrinth and the village of Neuville-St. Vaast on 17 June 1915. The Bavarians however still occupied a similar maze of trenches north and north-east of Neuville-St. Vaast.

               
              View from the Leuregans Memorial northward at the outskirts of Neuville-St. Vaast.
               
               
              To avoid an unpaved road we make a short detour through the village of Neuville-St. Vaast, to continue south over the Route de Béthune , the D 937, passing the French and British war cemeteries on the west side of the road, to a location called Maison Blanche.
               

              We stop for a visit to the largest German war cemetery of the Great War, the Deutsche Kriegsgräberstätte Neuville-St. Vaast.

              “IN THIS MILITARY CEMETERY REST 44,833 GERMAN SOLDIERS 1914-1918"
               

              The Deutsche Kriegsgräberstätte Neuville-St. Vaast (also called La Maison Blanche, after a farm opposite the road) was built by the French military authorities in 1919 to 1923 as a collective cemetery for German war dead from the area north and east of Arras. It is the largest German military cemetery of the Great War in France! From more than 110 municipalities in the department of Calais the reburial was performed of the German dead who had hitherto been buried in field graves or in small cemeteries. A high number of remains were found over the years of clearing and re-cultivation of the former battlefield. Even in this day and age the dead are found during construction works, often in larger quantities such as during the construction of the A 26 motorway (Autoroute des Anglais) on the battlefield of Vimy Ridge. The French military authorities buried the majority of the found but unidentified dead in a large communal grave on the second major German military cemetery in the area of Arras, St. Laurent-Blangy. From the former cemetery in Boiry-Ste. Rictrude the authorities transported the monument to the fallen of the Hannover Infanterie Regiment 164 to Neuville-St. Vaast. The memorial was created during the war by serving German army sculptors and stonemasons. Today the men resting in the cemetery belonged to more than 100 different divisions of infantry and artillery regiments and many other units as pioneers, airmen, mortar launchers etc. The soldiers and officers, buried here, lost their lives during the heavy fighting around Artois and the hill of Notre Dame de Lorette during the period of August 1914 until the end of 1915, the Vimy Ridge Easter Battle of 1917, and in the autumn of 1918, as well as by the struggle of "normal" days of trench warfare. The troops involved were from all countries and provinces of the former German Reich.

              588 Of the 36,848 dead in individual graves remain unknown. 8,040 Fallen rest in a communal grave. The 842 names of fallen soldiers buried in the communal grave are mentioned on metal panels.

              Source: Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge

               

              The memorial of the Hannover Infanterie Regiment 164.

              “THE 4th HANNOVER INFANTRY REGIMENT NR. 164 – TO THE COMRADES FALLEN HERE FOR THE FATHERLAND”

              A silent witness of modern reconciliation, a British wreath of poppies, and a wreath of mixed flowers with a ribbon: “FRENCH-GERMAN FRIENDSHIP”. 

              “BE LOYAL TO DEATH”

              “I HAD A COMRADE – YOU WILL NEVER FIND A BETTER ONE”

              A last view over the vast cemetery.

              From the cemetery we turn around and follow the D 937 northward for a stop at the crossroads of la Targette.

              On the east side of the crossroads we find a modest park with three memorials. The largest memorial is called “Le Flambeau de la Paix”, the Torch of Peace.   

              “TO THE LIVING WHO PASS THIS TORCH, WHICH OFFERS A SYMBOL OF THE MASSACRES, DIRECT YOUR SIGHT TO THE SOIL FULL OF GRAVES, AND CONTEMPLATE OUR DEAD, OF WHOM THE HEART WAS BEAUTIFUL”

              The second memorial honours Lieutenant Millevoy of the 74e R.I., ...

              ... who fell in the Neuville-St. Vaast front sector on the first day of the Third Battle of Artois, on 25 September 1915, during an attack on the "Plateau de Folie" and Folie Farm near Pétit Vimy.

              The Third Battle of Artois - 25 September – 4 November 1915

              The Third Battle of Artois was meant to complement the Second Battle of Champagne, a last attempt by the French commander-in-chief Joffre to exploit the Allied numerical advantage over Germany before the next winter would come. Joffre's plan consisted of simultaneous offensives in Champagne-Ardenne and Artois, with the goal to capture German railways and supply centres and to force the Germans to withdraw.

              Joffre's plan to attack the Sixth Army of the Bavarian Kronprinz Rupprecht involved the British Expeditionary Force launching simultaneously the Battle of Loos.  At first, Field Marshal French and General Haig were reluctant about such an offensive, invoking arguments like a lack of heavy artillery, ammunition and troop reserves. Pressure from the British Minister of War, Lord Kitchener, made French and Haig agree to Joffre’s plan and to a British military operation at Loos-en-Gohelle.

              Following a four-day artillery bombardment starting on 21 September 1915, the French Tenth Army of Général d’Urbal initiated its advance on 25 September.

              On 26 September the infantry of XXXIII and XXI Corps attacked and captured the village of Souchez. But suffering several severe German counter-attacks III and XII Corps had made little progress around Neuville-St. Vaast. The French failed to breach the German second line of defence and they did not achieve a breakthrough nor a forced withdrawal.

              German historians of the “Reichsarchiv” recorded German casualties to the end of October as 51,100 men. Historians estimate the French casualties until 4 November to be 48,230 casualties.

              The third memorial is dedicated to 2nd Lieutenant Nouette-d’Andrezel of the 36e R.I., who was also killed on the 25th near Neuville-St. Vaast.

              That day the 36e R.I. and the 274e R.I. were also involved in the attack at Folie Farm. Because of numerous German counter-attacks all three French regiments, involved in the Folie Farm attack, counted severe casualties, soldiers and an impressive number of officers.

              "HERE IS FALLEN FOR FRANCE HENRY NOUETTE D'ANDREZEL SECOND LIEUTENANT OF THE 36 R.I. ON 25 SEPT. 1915 - PRAY FOR HIM"

              From the memorials at la Targette we pass the la Targette Military Museum opposite the park to continue westward via the D 49 to Mont St. Eloi.

              On the northern side of the road were the jump-off lines of the 77e Division d’Infanterie with Berthonval Farm as its war-time headquarters. On the southern side of the road were the jump-off lines of the 53e and the Moroccan Division.
               
               
              We visit the ruins of the Mont St. Eloi Abbey.
               
               
              During the Great War the hill of Mont St. Eloi served to house French staff and artillery observation posts. Of course this fact was also known to the German artillery, which fired thousands of shells on the hill.
               
               

              Mont St. Eloi Abbey

              The ruins are originally from the 14th century abbey, partly destroyed during the French Revolution. Although the abbey ruins, and especially the towers, were at first more or less intact after the revolutionary damage, during the Great War German shells damaged further the towers and the rest of the main abbey building.

               

               

              We finish our visit to Mont St. Eloi with a panorama north-east and eastward from the civilian cemetery near the ruins. From left to right in 4 overlapping steps:  views over the landscape of the former French jump-off lines.

              From Mont St. Eloi we return to la Targette to continue northward via the D 937.
               
               
              Some 2 km. north of La Targette we park our car to find on both sides of the road: a war memorial and a war cemetery.
               
               
              First we visit the Memorial for the Polish Volunteers, who fell on 9 May 1915 near this spot, in the area of la Targette and Neuville St. Vaast. The German positions were on the east side of the road.
               
               
              Motivated by the occupation of Galicia by the Russian Imperial Army, these Polish volunteered in 1914 for the Polish Legion, "Le Légion de Galicie".
              They were also involved in the attack on 9 May at the German stronghold, Hill 140, Thélus Mill, at Vimy Ridge.
               
               
              On the other side of the road we visit:
              the La Targette Czechoslovakian Military Cemetery.
               

              The la Targette Czechoslovakian Military Cemetery contains the graves of 206 Czechoslovak soldiers: 70 soldiers of the Great War, and 136 soldiers of the Second World War, including 29 Airmen.
              Source: “Mémoires de Pierre

                
               
              The Czechoslovakian Légions
               
              The Czechoslovakian soldiers, who are buried here, volunteered in the French Czechoslovakian Légions. These Czechs and Slovaks were inspired and motivated by their craving for their own Independence from Austria - Hungary. These Czechoslovakian Légions would finally grow into a force of 15.000 Czech volunteers, living in France and abroad.
               
              The Nazdar Company
               
               
              The first unit to fight under the French flag, was the Nazdar Company of 250 men, who enlisted already on 22 August 1914. The Nazdar company, originally named "Zdar", got its name from  the original Czech greeting, "zdrobněle nazdárek", shortened in "Nazdar!". Nazdar developed to be a nationalistic equivalent of "Hello!"
              On 9 May 1915, the Nazdar Company took part in the attack by the Moroccan Division at Vimy Ridge. The Company lost 50 men killed and 150 wounded out of a strength of 250. 

              In the Nazdar Company were two leading members of the "Sokol". The Sokol was a worldwide Czechoslovakian nationalist movement, members of which greeted one another with "Nazdar!" Among the fallen soldiers were the chief Instructor of the “Sokol of Paris”, Joseph Pultr, and the President of the “Paris Rovnost Socialist Association”, Josef Sibal.

              The Czechoslovak National Council
               

              In February 1916 Milan Stefanik, a Czechoslovakian aviator in the French Army, Thomas Masaryk and Eduard Benesj founded in Paris the Czechoslovak National Council. They lobbied and pressed for the foundation of an independent Czechoslovak Army in France. On 19 December 1916 Président Poincaré issued a decree to organize an independent Czechoslovak Army.

              On 29 June 1918 France recognized officially the Czechoslovak National Council as the first basis of the future Czechoslovak government. After the war Masaryk became the first President of the First Czechoslovak Republic. Later Benesj succeeded him as the second President. Stefanik became the first Minister of War of Czechoslovakia.

              In 1918  an independent Czechoslovak Brigade was formed in France. The Brigade returned to its own country in the autumn of 1919. It counted 9,600 soldiers. Some 650 Czech and Slovak legionnaires perished in France during the Great War. 

              Source a.o.:Czech Out”, Michael Cox & Dr Graham Watson: "Pour la France - A Guide to the formations & units of French land forces 1914-18" and Rian van Meeteren, the Netherlands.

               
              In the cemetery stands a Memorial with this French inscription:
               
              "THEY HAVE CHOSEN TO DIE FOR LIBERTY"
               

              This monument is made by the sculptor Jaroslav Hrvska. The dying figure represents the legendary standard bearer of the "Nazdar Company", soldier Karel Bezdicek, originated from the town of Sezemice u Pardubic, who was killed on the first day of fighting. Karel Bezdicek fell, struck by a bullet in a German trench, his body wrapped in the Czech flag.  He was remembered by his comrades as the first free Czech soldier to carry the standard of the Czech lion with the double tails.

              Source a.o.:Czech Out

               
              At the rear side of the Memorial:
               
              "HERE ON 9 MAY 1915 CZECHOSLOVAKIAN VOLUNTEERS HAVE FOUGHT FOR THEIR FATHERLAND AND FOR FRANCE"
               
              The same text in Czech and a list of names of soldiers without a known grave.
               
               
              The Memorial commemorating the Nazdar Company.
               
               
              From this area the Nazdar Company went over the top to find the first German trenches on the other side of the road. A plaque commemorates the Nazdar Company.
               
               
              On their return the Czechoslovakian units had 80% casualties.
              Vimy Ridge would stay in German hands until April 1917.
               
               
              Some 2 km. more to the north, at the southern outskirts of Souchez, we visit the former location of the tavern of Le Cabaret Rouge.
               
               
              Only four flower boxes and a modest monument along the side of the road remind us of the site of this important landmark during the battles of Artois.  
               
               

              The Cabaret Rouge Tavern

              Le Cabaret Rouge, just outside Souchez, was a small tavern with red bricks and a red-tiled roof. Being an important landmark, it gave its name to this front sector and a communication trench. The café was destroyed by shelling in May 1915.

              A translation of the inscription:

              "ON THIS SPOT WAS LOCATED LE CABARET ROUGE -
              SO OFTEN CITED IN THE DAY ORDERS OF THE YEAR 1915
              COUNTLESS FRENCH AND GERMAN SOLDIERS HAVE FALLEN IN THIS SECTOR
              PASSER-BY DO NOT FORGET"
               
              The tavern gave its name also to the Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery opposite the road.
               
               

              Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery  - On 26 September 1915, Souchez was taken from the Germans by French troops, who handed the sector over to Commonwealth forces the following March. The Cemetery was begun by Commonwealth troops in March 1916, used until August 1917 (largely by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Corps) and - at intervals - until September 1918. It was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when more than 7.000 graves were brought in from the battlefields of Arras and from 103 other, smaller burial grounds in the Nord and the Pas-de-Calais. The cemetery now contains 7.655 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, more than half of them unidentified. There is also one Second World War burial. The Canadian, Frank Higginson, designed the cemetery.

              Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

               
               
              Soldier graves of many different units: Members of the Leicester Regiment, killed in 1915.
               
               
              But also many graves of soldiers from Indian units: 10th Ghurka Rifles, the 84th Punjabis, ...
               
               
              ... 69th Punjabis, 4th P.A.V. Rajputs, ...
               
               
              ... and 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, killed in May 1915, during the Battle of Aubers Ridge.
               
               
              In this cemetery there are 3,500 Canadian graves ... 
               
               
              ... mainly of the period of 9-12 April 1917, and the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
               
               
              Or even a short time before.
               
               
              On 25 May 2000, the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier were entrusted to Canada at a ceremony held at the Vimy Memorial, France.
               
              The remains had been exhumed by staff of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission from Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Plot 8, Row E, Grave 7.
               
              The remains were laid to rest within the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in a sarcophagus placed at the foot of the National War Memorial, Confederation Square, Ottawa, Canada.
               
               
              I walked up to the Cross of Sacrifice to photograph the landscape southward.
               
               
              View over the fields northward to the hill of Notre Dame de Lorette, only 2,5 km. away from here.
               
               
              The rain is pouring down heavily now, but I could not resist this teleview.
               
               
              From the cemetery we continue northward along the D 937.
                
               
              At the entrance of the town of Souchez we pass the large memorial for the soldiers fallen during the more recent wars in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. We stop at the memorial next to it: ... 
               
              ... the memorial for Général Barbot and his 77e Division d’Infanterie.
               
               
              "TO THE GLORY OF THE BARBOT DIVISION - 77TH INFANTRY DIVISION"
               
               
              Besides 2 Companies of the Génie (Engineers) and the 6e Régiment d’Artillerie, the 77e D.I., consisted solely of alpine regiments and battalions!
               
               

              The 77e Division d'Infanterie

              Although a large part of Souchez would finally be captured on 26 September 1915, during the first 7 days of the Second Battle of Artois, the 77e Division d’Infanterie of Général Barbot suffered severe losses.

              From the jump-off lines at Berthonval the 77e Division d’Infanterie attacked on 9 May 1915 the sector of Cabaret Rouge, Souchez and Hill 119, north-east of Souchez.

              Especially during the first week of the offensive, 9 – 16 May 1915, the 77e Division d'Infanterie lost most of its men:  3,222 casualties!

              Within 48 hours the 77th Infantry Division lost even two Generals!

              Général Barbot was severely wounded on 10 May 1915 around 14.00 hrs. in his command post at the crossroads "G", some 100 metres from the memorial site. Barbot died in the evening in the military hospital at Villers- Chatel.

              On 12 May, around 14.00 hrs., his successor, Colonel Stirn, temporarily promoted to Général, fell by a direct hit on his Command Post in the Bois de Berthonval, south of Souchez. Général Delmotte took over the command of the division temporarily, until Général Pillot succeeded Général Stirn. During the Great War France lost 42 Generals on the battlefield.

              The statue represents a full size image of Général Barbot, Commander of the 77e D.I.

              A bronze bas-relief on the memorial shows a portrait of Général Stirn.

              A list of battlefields, where the 77e D.I. fought during the war.

              From the site a view northward at the hill of Notre Dame de Lorette, where Général Barbot is buried in the Notre Dame de Lorette Nécropole Nationale, …

              … with its typical Basilica and Lantern Tower.

              From the Barbot memorial we continue northward to the last site of our route.

              At the centre of Souchez we turn left to continue via the D 57 eastward to the centre of Ablain-St. Nazaire.

              Here we visit the 1915 ruins of the St. Nazaire church, at the foot of the Notre Dame de Lorette Hill.

              The former St. Nazaire church originated from the 15th century, but it was destroyed by German fire during the period October 1914 – October 1915.

              View from the ruins of the church of Ablain-St. Nazaire to the cupola of the Basilica on the Mont de Notre Dame de Lorette.

              The scars of war are clearly visible.

              From Ablain-St. Nazaire we continue to the Hill of Notre Dame de Lorette on the next page.

               

               Continue to the next chapter:
              Dutch Readers! Lees ook: "Tsjechen aan het Westelijk Front".


              Domeinregistratie en hosting via mijndomein.nl