Peronne, after and way after

Fellow blogger Sommecourt has a very nice photo of post-war Peronne, a village on the Somme that was nearly destroyed as it changed hands during the war.

Here’s what it looks like today.


Peronne Historial museum and church. Photo by Marcus3, Wikimedia Commons


Front of the Historial, taken by Bodoklecksel, posted at Wiki Commons.


Air raid on London

June 13 is the anniversary of the first daylight bombing of London in 1917, by German Gothas. Fourteen of the huge planes took off from their base in Belgium and dropped bombs on Britain’s capital city.They killed 162 people and injured 432 others. Among the dead were 16 little children killed by a bomb falling on a primary school. Most of the children were under 5 years old.

It was actually the Gothas’ third attack. A fleet of 22 bombers headed for London in May, got diverted by bad weather and bombed Folkestone, leaving 95 dead and 195 injured. They came back June 7 and bombed the coastal towns of Shoeburyness and Sheerness.

Their successful attack on London had no tactical value that I can see. They didn’t manage to blow up any war materiel, troops or aircraft, though a few British planes did get shot down (so did some of the Gothas). They were a terror weapon. So killing little children was productive from that standpoint.

Here’s a detailed description of the planes and their attacks:

This photo, from the Imperial War Museum’s collection AIR RAID DAMAGE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR, shows damage to a printing business where 38 people were killed.


The ruins of Messrs Odhams Printing Works, 93 Long Acre, London, which was bombed by two giant Gothas in the worst bombing incident of the war.

Belleau Wood now and then

Lovely photos from the site of the battle on Michael St. Maur Shiel’s website, Western Front Photography:

Also, here’s a post at blog History & Lore of the old World War about an unexpected memoir: “At Belleau Wood with Rifle and Sketchpad” by Louis Linn, a Marine who fought in that iconic battle and at Soissons and St. Mihiel, where he was gravely wounded.


Ruins in Belleau, France.

And there were still two years to go.

Great War Photos

Aerial imagery of the Great War gives a fascinating insight into the battlefields of WW1 and this week on the site we will feature three German images showing different locations on the Western Front. While it is likely they were originally taken for intelligence purposes these images had been transferred to postcard as souvenirs for soldiers at the front. Some of these were later re-sold to British soldiers during the occupation of the Rhineland from 1919.

This image dates from 1915 and shows the city of Ypres from above. By this stage of the war Ypres had seen two major battles – First and Second Ypres – and the buildings come under a terrible hail of shells of every calibre up to 420mm: one account of a commander based at nearby Potijze in early 1915 recalled watching 420mm shells descend on the Cloth Hall and St Martin’s Cathedral and take…

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Bike to Brussels

Here’s a challenge: Bike from Calais to Ieper — the terrain is flat as a pancake — visit battlefields and cemeteries, experience the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.

Then you ride on to Brussels, where the terrain is more like a waffle.

It sounds like an awesome adventure.  And it’s in June, so you have plenty of time to work on your quads.

Hey, this could be you! (Bombed-out village not included.)

British cyclists resting in a ruined village.

Week 8: “The Great War: Perspectives on the First World War”

This review is a bit belated, but my dawdling is not meant to be a reflection on my reading material. “The Great War,” edited by Robert Cowley, is an excellent book. Its essays cross the war from start to finish, touching on various topics that will be more or less interesting to you — I read the pieces on Sgt. York and Kathe Kollwitz, by John Bowers and Cowley, respectively, nodding my head, yes, yes, yes.

You might read the chapter on the naval war nodding your head and be astonished by York’s adventures and their aftermath. There is something for everyone to learn here.

I was most intrigued by Cowley’s discussion of the Massacre of the Innocents. You remember them, right? The German college students who marched into the fray near the Belgian village of Langemark, singing “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles,” and were cut down like daisies (but not before afflicting heavy losses on the heartless French)? Hitler loved the story, as an illustration of how evil the French were.

But, Cowley says, it was just a story. It’s true that Germany threw thousands of green troops, poorly trained and equipped, into the First Battle of Ypres. First Ypres was a disaster: Germany lost 80,000 to 100,000 men between mid-October and mid-November. But less than 20% of them were students, Cowley says, and they didn’t sing as they died.

It was just a myth, when the country most needed one to bolster another, larger myth: The war was winnable and Germany would win it.

This is Langemark during the war:


And this is a contemporary photo, from the Langemark German Military Cemetery.


The little town of Noyon took quite a beating.

Brushed With Mystery

I almost lost the trail on this photo. The name is written so badly on the back (sorry great-granddad) that I almost gave up.  I originally thought it said ‘Lyon,’ and then ‘Nayon’.

Now that I have found the accurate name, I have found a myriad of resources that I would love to research.  There are quite a few of you that look here for new resources, and I don’t want to delay in sharing something to whet your appetite.

Noyon was captured by the Germans in 1914, and held until 1918, when the Allies recaptured it. Most of the sources I have found are primary resources: diaries and letters-  they are amazing in their own detail.  I could spend weeks just researching them to get a better feel of the location and the people that lived- and died there.

There is one, and possibly two resources I would love…

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