Photos of First World War Trench Network

Hooge Trench
Hooge Trench

This is what remains of the Hooge Chateau trench network a few kilometres outside Ypres/Ieper.

The trench is in the grounds of the Hotel Kasteelhof’t Hooghe.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the chateau and its stables were the scene of fierce fighting throughout the First World War.

Hotel Kasteelhof’t Hooghe (Hotel's photo)
Hotel Kasteelhof’t Hooghe (Hotel’s photo)

The staff of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were wiped out when the chateau was shelled on October 31, 1914.

From May 24 to June 3, 1915, the chateau was defended against German attacks and in July 1915, the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division.

Shells uncovered near the trench network.
Shells uncovered near the trench network.

On July 30, the Germans took the chateau, and on August 9, it and the crater were regained by the 6th Division.

Trench at Hooge
Trench at Hooge

The Germans retook Hooge on June 6, 1916 and on July 31, 1917, the 8th Division advanced 1.6km beyond it. It was lost for the last time in April 1918, but regained by the 9th (Scottish) and 29th Divisions on September 28.

Pictures from the Hooge Cemetery, Ypres (WW1)

Hooge Crater Cemetery
Hooge Crater Cemetery

I recently visited the Hooge Crater Cemetery just east of Ypres/Ieper.

Almost 6,000 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated in this cemetery – with more than 3,500 of the burials unidentified.

Graves marked as mass burials.
Graves marked as mass burials.

Special memorials record the names of a number of casualties either known or believed to be buried among them, or whose graves in other cemeteries were destroyed by shell fire.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is situated near the site of the Hooge Chateau.

Hooge, near Ypres.
Hooge, near Ypres.

The chateau and its stables were the scene of fierce fighting throughout the First World War.

I will post more about the trench network still visible in the chateau grounds tomorrow.

Two graves.
Two graves.

This Day In History: the battle of Mametz Wood

The Welsh Dragon memorial at Mametz Wood
The Welsh Dragon memorial at Mametz Wood

At 8.30am on July 7, 1916, the 38th (Welsh) Division began its attack on Mametz Wood.

The capture of the wood was key to a successful attack on the German second line in this area of the Somme battlefield.

The first advance floundered in chaos 200-300 yards short of the wood, and a further attack at 11am met with the same fate.

The Germans were well dug in and to approach the wood the attacker had to cross an open field.

After 15 hours of continuous fighting the Welsh were forced to regroup.

During the afternoon of July 11, the decision was taken to withdraw the Welsh Division from the battle area.

The 38th Division was relieved by the 21st Division, which cleared the remainder of Mametz Wood by midday on July 12, encountering little resistance.

The Welsh Division did not have the satisfaction of seeing the job through and witnessing the total capture of Mametz Wood.

As this detailed article by Dr Robin Barlow, of Aberystwyth University, notes: “The human toll at the battle of Mametz was a high one.

“Between 7-12 July, 911 NCOs and other ranks from the Welsh Division lost their lives, plus 37 officers. In addition, many hundreds more men would have been posted missing, their bodies never recovered. The 16th (CardiffCity) Battalion, Welsh Regiment suffered the greatest loss with 153 men and five officers killed, 129 of whom (and three officers) died on July 7.

“The 14th (Swansea) Battalion, Welsh Regiment had entered its first major engagement of the First World War on July 10 with 676 men; by nightfall, 75 men and one officer had died, with a further 376 casualties. More than half the Battalion was lost in one day.

“The attacking strength of the 17th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers was recorded as ‘950 bayonets’; on July 12 Emlyn Davies transmitted a message to 115th Brigade headquarters, ‘strength 5 Officers, 142 Other Ranks’.”

the mametz dragon 2The battle has gained an iconic status in Wales.

Dr Barlow writes: “Although the name of Mametz Wood has come to symbolise the sacrifice and commitment of Welsh troops in the First World War, their actual contribution – and even their bravery – is wreathed in controversy and debate. Was it a glorious success or a chaotic failure?

“In the words of the officers of a neighbouring division, the advance of the Welsh Division on July 10 was ‘one of the most magnificent sights of the war’, as wave after wave of men were seen ‘advancing without hesitation’.”

History: the Welsh National War Memorial, Cardiff

Welsh National War Memorial
Welsh National War Memorial

The sun shines on the Welsh National War Memorial in Cardiff.

It commemorates the servicemen who died during the First World War. A plaque to those who died during the Second World War was added in 1949.

The memorial takes the form of a circular colonnade surrounding a sunken court and was unveiled in June 1928 by the then Prince of Wales.

It features inscriptions in Welsh and in English, and was designed by Sir Ninian Comper, the Scottish architect who mostly worked on designs for churches.

At the centre of the court is a group of bronze sculptures by Alfred Bertram Pegram, arranged around a stone pylon.

Around the base stand three figures, a soldier, sailor and airman, holding wreaths aloft.

CATHAYS PARK 2

It is situated in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park, and is made from the same stone as the civic buildings which surround the gardens.

The graves of Abbeville (WW1)

Abbeville cemetery
Abbeville cemetery

Abbeville was an important town for the Allied armies throughout much of the First World War.

It housed the headquarters of the lines of communication and three army hospitals.

Its cemetery contains more than 2,500 World War 1 graves and several hundred from World War 2.

The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves
The cemetery contains around 3,000 graves

The cemetery consists of the communal section and an extension which was begun in September 1916.

I took these photographs during a visit there a few years ago.

Here are a few of those buried there. Private Charles Leslie Bibby, of the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

Charles Leslie Bibby
Charles Leslie Bibby

Private E Edwards, of the 9th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

E Edwards
E Edwards

William Sheehan, of New Ross, County Wexford, who served in the Royal Irish Regiment.

William Sheehan
William Sheehan

The town also played an important role in the Second World War.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission notes: “Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.”

This memorial is in the town.

Abbeville memorial
Abbeville memorial