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YPRES TO VERDUN ***




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YPRES TO VERDUN




COUNTRY

[Illustration]

LIFE

_First published in 1921._




YPRES TO VERDUN

A Collection of Photographs of

THE WAR AREAS IN
FRANCE & FLANDERS

Specially taken by

SIR ALEXANDER B. W. KENNEDY

LL.D., F.R.S.

Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Associate Member of the Ordnance Committee, etc.

LONDON:
Published at the Offices of "Country Life," Ltd., Tavistock Street,
Covent Garden, W.C. 2, and by George Newnes, Ltd., Southampton Street,
Strand, W.C. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons




"Quand pensez-vous que la guerre sera finie?" dit le Docteur.
"Quand nous serons vainqueurs," coupa le Général.

"_Les Silences du Col. Bramble._" - MAUROIS.




PREFACE


An official visit to the Front during the great days of October,
1918, when our chief difficulty and our great object was to keep up
with the retreating Germans, gave me some first-hand knowledge of the
devastation of the country which had been the result of four years
of war. Familiar - too familiar - as this was to our soldiers, we at
home - if I may take myself as a fair example of the average man - could
really form no idea, even from the most vivid of the correspondents'
descriptions, of what the ruined country was actually like. Roads,
fields, orchards, were a featureless waste of shell-holes, often
already covered with rank herbage altogether disguising their original
nature. Villages were only recognisable by painted notices, "This is
Givenchy," or sometimes "This _was_ Givenchy"; not a house, not a wall,
not a gate-post to show where they had been. Large towns like Ypres
or Lens or Albert were little more than piles of brick, stone, and
timber rubbish, through which roads were being cleared between immense
piles of débris. In Rheims nearly as many houses were destroyed as the
13,000 said to have been burnt in the Great Fire of London, and smaller
places like Soissons or Cambrai or Arras had suffered terribly. It
was forbidden in our Army Areas at that time, no doubt for excellent
reasons, to use a camera, but I made up my mind that when permission
could be obtained I would do my best to secure some permanent record of
what had happened.

It was only in September of 1919 that I was able, with my friend,
Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Gill, D.S.O., R.A., to make a first
photographic visit to the War Areas, and to get over a hundred
views from Ypres to Verdun. At this time Major-General P. G. Grant
was in charge of affairs at Headquarters at Wimereux. It was not
without pardonable professional pride that I remembered that it was
General Grant, a Royal Engineer Officer, who had on the 25th-26th
of March, 1918, been chosen to organise the wonderfully constituted
Company which General Haig's despatch euphemistically called, in
enumerating the elements of which it consisted, a "mixed force." The
days were critical, the French reserves had far to come and had not
reached us, and the "mixed force," brought together in a few hours,
proved sufficient addition to enable us to hold on, until the enemy,
exhausted, could get no farther. General Grant was kind enough to give
a brother Engineer every help, especially through his Area Commanders,
Colonel Falcon, Colonel Carey, and Colonel Russell Brown, to all of
whom we were much indebted. The result of this visit, and a second a
few months later, has been that I have been able to take nearly 250
negatives of the places which were so much in our news and in our minds
during the terrible four years of the war. I have thought that it might
be interesting, both to the soldiers who fought for us all over France
and Flanders and to their friends at home who heard from day to day
of the places where they were fighting, to have something which would
show what these places were really like, to turn the too familiar
names into recognisable pictures, and this is my reason for publishing
these photographs. In 1919 very little had as yet been done by way of
reconstruction. In the spring of 1920, happily, a great deal had been
done. But the photographs which follow indicate really - as well as the
imperfections of a photograph allow - the condition of the places and
of the country previous to reconstruction, and I am glad to be able to
show my countrymen something of the condition to which our neighbour's
country was brought by the war. Some realisation of this may enable us
to understand better how keenly and overpoweringly the French desire
that the terms of Peace with our common enemies should be such as will
definitely prevent for ever the recurrence of these horrors.

In addition to my own photographs I have to acknowledge, with many
thanks, permission from Sir Martin Conway to use Plates 43, 64, 68,
and 73, which were taken officially at a time when outsiders were not
allowed to photograph. I have also to thank Mr. Basil Mott for the use
of his two picturesque views (Plates 49 and 69) of Lens and Albert
under snow, Colonel Douglas Gill for the view on Kemmel Hill (Plate
32), and Mr. R. Godai for the photograph (Plate 18) of a destroyed
pillbox.

ALEXANDER B. W. KENNEDY.

ALBANY,
_August, 1921_.




CONTENTS


PAGE PLATES

I. INTRODUCTORY 1 1-4
II. THE YPRES SALIENT 5 5-18
III. ZEEBRUGGE 18 19-23
IV. THE LYS SALIENT 20 24-34
V. BETHUNE, LA BASSÉE, AND LOOS 25 35-42
VI. ARRAS, VIMY, AND LENS 31 43-50
VII. THE SOMME 38 51-66
VIII. ALBERT AND THE ANCRE 49 67-73
IX. THE OISE AND THE AVRE 52 74-78
X. CAMBRAI TO ST. QUENTIN 55 79-87
XI. RHEIMS, THE AISNE, SOISSONS 61 88-97
XII. VERDUN, THE MEUSE, THE ARGONNE 68 98-106
XIII. THE MARNE TO MONS 76 107-124




LIST OF PLATES


I. INTRODUCTORY

Innsbruck: the Declaration
of War 1

École Militaire, Montreuil 2

Hôtel de Ville, Doullens 3

In the Compiègne Forest 4


II. THE YPRES SALIENT

The Menin Gate, Ypres 5

Dugouts in the Ypres Walls 6

Ypres from the Lille Gate 7

The Belfry Tower, Ypres 8

The "Tank Cemetery," Hooge 9

At Gheluvelt 10

"Stirling Castle" 11

"Clapham Junction" 12

The Becelaere Road 13

"Hill 60" 14, 15

At St. Julien 16

The Passchendaele Ridge 17

A "Pillbox" 18


III. ZEEBRUGGE

The Bruges Canal 19

Lock Gate at Zeebrugge 20

The Guns on the Mole 21

The Mole at Zeebrugge 22

"C 3" 23


IV. THE LYS SALIENT

Neuve Chapelle 24

On the Aubers Ridge
(Schultze Turm) 25

A Double O.P. 26

Merville 27

Estaires 28

Bailleul 29

Armentières 30

Kemmel Hill 31

Kemmel Hill 32

"Plug Street" Wood 33

A Cemetery in "Plug
Street" Wood 34


V. BETHUNE, LA BASSÉE, AND
LOOS

Bethune 35

Givenchy 36

La Bassée 37

The Canal at La Bassée 38

A Pithead 39

The Double Crassier 40

A Communication Trench
near Loos 41

"No Man's Land" 42


VI. ARRAS, VIMY, AND LENS

Arras 43

Arras Cathedral 44

On the Vimy Ridge 45

A Mine Crater on the
Ridge 46

German Gun Emplacement
at Thelus 47

The Road to Lens 48

Lens under Snow 49

Lens 50


VII. THE SOMME

The Somme Road 51

Foucaucourt 52

Mametz 53

Trones Wood 54

Delville Wood 55

Combles 56

The Bapaume Road (Butte
de Warlencourt) 57

Mont St. Quentin 58

Péronne 59

Warfusée (Lamotte) 60

Villers Bretonneux 61

The Chipilly Spur 62

Cappy 63

Villers Carbonnel 64

The Somme at Cléry 65

Brie Château 66


VIII. ALBERT AND THE ANCRE

On the Amiens-Albert Road 67

Albert on Evacuation 68

Albert in Winter 69

Albert Cathedral 70

In the Ancre Valley 71

Aveluy 72

Beaumont-Hamel 73


IX. THE OISE AND THE AVRE

The "Big Bertha" Emplacement 74

The St. Gobain Forest 75

Noyon 76

Montdidier 77

The Avre Valley 78


X. CAMBRAI TO ST. QUENTIN

Cambrai (Place d'Armes) 79

Cambrai Cathedral 80

Bourlon Wood 81

Bellicourt 82

The St. Quentin Canal 83

The Riqueval Bridge 84

Bellenglise 85

St. Quentin Cathedral 86

Ribécourt 87


XI. RHEIMS, THE AISNE, SOISSONS

Rheims 88

Rheims Cathedral (West
End) 89

Rheims Cathedral (East
End) 90

The Chemin des Dames 91

Cerny 92

Caves above Soissons 93

The Oise and Aisne Canal 94

Fismes 95

Soissons - St. Jean des
Vignes 96

Soissons Cathedral 97


XII. VERDUN, THE MEUSE, THE
ARGONNE

St. Mihiel 98

Verdun 99

Vaux Fort - North Fosse 100

Vaux Village 101

Douaumont Fort 102

The Mort Homme 103

The Mort Homme - French
Front Lines 104

The Argonne Forest 105

Varennes 106


XIII. THE MARNE TO MONS

The Mons-Condé Canal 107

Slag Heaps at Mons 108

The Mormal Forest 109

Landrecies 110

Le Cateau 111

The Marne (near La Ferté) 112

Dormans 113

Epernay 114

The Vesle at Sillery 115

Buzancy Château 116

Monument at Buzancy 117

Le Quesnoy 118

In the German Retreat,
1917 119

Hirson 120

A Pile Bridge 121

Sedan 122

Maubeuge 123

Mons 124




YPRES TO VERDUN




I. - INTRODUCTORY

(PLATES 1 TO 4.)


On the 26th of July, 1914, on my return from a pleasant motor
excursion through the Dolomites, I arrived at Innsbruck, and found the
picturesquely situated old city in a state of unsuppressed excitement
owing to the proclamation of war made on that day between Austria and
Serbia. The crowds in the Maria Theresien Strasse were reading and
discussing the proclamation (Plate 1), and were obviously in excellent
spirits, with no premonition of what would be the unhappy fate of
their country when at length the fire which they had kindled should be
finally extinguished. Among the mountains we had seen no newspapers
for weeks, so that the news of the outbreak of war came as a complete
surprise, but still as something not at all affecting ourselves. It was
not until some days later (on the 30th of July) that we found ourselves
in the thick of German mobilisation at the Kehl bridge, and were told
that we must find our way home either by Belgium or by Switzerland, for
all roads into France were closed. After some exciting days, and many
interviews with high German authorities, civil, military and police, we
happily succeeded in getting safely into Switzerland, and so eventually
back to England by way of Genoa, Gibraltar, and the Bay of Biscay.

* * * * *

The École Militaire at Montreuil (Plate 2), a sufficiently
uninteresting building in appearance, is notable for us as
constituting, after the removal from St. Omer in March, 1916, the
offices of our G.H.Q. in France. Here the schemes were prepared,
and from here the orders were issued, which - after so long a time
of suspense and anxiety - resulted finally in the Allied victory of
1918. It is interesting, and perhaps not uninstructive, to compare
the account of the manner of life at Montreuil, as described by the
author of "G.H.Q. (Montreuil)," with that which prevailed at the German
headquarters in Charleville, of which Mr. Domelier (an eyewitness
throughout the occupation) gives very interesting, if sometimes
scandalous, particulars.[1]

[1] Domelier, "Behind the Scenes at German Headquarters."

Life at Montreuil is described as "serious enough ... monkish in its
denial of some pleasures, rigid in discipline, exacting in work....
Like a college where everyone was a 'swotter.'" The precautions for
safety taken at Charleville differed as much from ours as its manner of
life. We hear of cellars reinforced with concrete in walls and roof,
of bombproof casemates with several exits and underground passages, of
netted elastic buffer mattresses overhead to intercept bombs, of felted
door joints to keep out gas. And yet the two places were about the same
distance from the enemy's lines and were equally exposed to the enemy's
air raids. The differences seem to be due to the same difference in
mentality as that which showed itself in so many other matters.

And farther north the King - and the Queen - of the Belgians "occupied
a little villa within range of the German guns, and in a district
incessantly attacked by the enemy's bombing aeroplanes."[2]

[2] Maurice, "The Last Four Months," p. 158.

* * * * *

It was at 3.30 a.m. on the 21st of March, 1918, that the great German
attack westwards over the old Somme battlefields commenced. The events
of the four following days - the days of the greatest anxiety to most
of us since the commencement of the war - are remembered only too well
and too painfully. Our armies, unavoidably thinned and for days out of
reach of reserves, were, with the French beside them, continuously
driven back, until the Germans were close to Villers Bretonneux (ten
miles from Amiens), had crossed the Avre to the south, and had taken
Albert and crossed the Ancre on the north, wiping out in a few days all
our gains of 1917. At least one benefit, the greatest of all possible
benefits, resulted from the extreme urgency of the situation. On the
26th of March a special conference was held at Doullens, which in 1914
had been General Foch's H.Q. The Hôtel de Ville of that town (Plate
3), otherwise a commonplace and uninteresting building - in which the
conference met - became at once a building notable for ever in history.
Lord Milner and General Sir Henry Wilson, who were fortunately in
France, attended, with President Poincaré, M. Clemenceau, and M.
Loucheur, as well as Sir Douglas Haig, with our four Army Commanders,
and General Pétain and General Foch. As an immediate result, arrived
at unanimously by the conference,[3] General Foch was made _de
facto_ - and a few days later _de jure_ - Generalissimo of the Allied
Armies in France. It was immediately after this decision (on the 28th
of March) that General Pershing nobly offered to General Foch, for
serving under his authority in any way which he thought most useful,
every man whom he had available of the Americans who had arrived.
From the moment when, under such conditions, unity of command was at
length achieved, and in spite of the further set-backs in Flanders in
April - Ludendorff's last despairing efforts - the ultimate issue of the
war was no longer in doubt.

[3] See Lord Milner's account in the _New Statesman_ of the 23rd of
April, 1921.

* * * * *

Just within the forest of Compiègne, about four miles from the town,
is a certain little knot of railway tracks (Plate 4), close to the
main Compiègne-Soissons road, on which took place, on the 8th of
November, 1918, surely the most memorable conference since 1870. There
were present General Foch and his Chief of Staff, General Weygand,
Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, and Admiral Sims in their saloon on the
rails to the left, the German representatives being brought up on the
farther track and crossing over to General Foch's carriage. An account
of the interview which has been published states that Herr Erzberger
said in the first instance that he had come to receive proposals for
an armistice, and that General Foch refused altogether to discuss
matters on any such basis, and until Erzberger had admitted that he had
come "to beg for an armistice."[4] The now well-known terms by which
an armistice would be granted, on conditions equivalent to absolute
surrender, were then given to the Germans under the obligation of their
acceptance within three days. With their final acceptance hostilities
ended at 11 o'clock on the forenoon of the 11th of November.

[4] Buchan, "History of the War," vol. xxiv., p. 78.

[Illustration: _PLATE I._

THE DECLARATION OF WAR.

_The principal street in Innsbruck, the capital of Southern Austria, on
the 30th of July, 1914, when crowds were reading the Declaration of War
between Austria and Serbia._]

[Illustration: _PLATE II._

G.H.Q.

_The École Militaire at Montreuil, which was used as the offices of our
G.H.Q. during the greater part of the war._]

[Illustration: _PLATE III._

DOULLENS.

_The Hôtel de Ville at Doullens, where, on the 26th of March, 1918,
General Foch was appointed as de facto Generalissimo of the Allied
Armies in France._]

[Illustration: _PLATE IV._

THE ARMISTICE.

_The sidings in the Forest of Compiègne where General Foch and Sir
Rosslyn Wemyss, on behalf of the Allies, met Herr Erzberger and his
colleagues on the 8th of November, 1918, and dictated to them the terms
on which an armistice would be granted._]




II.-THE YPRES SALIENT

(PLATES 5 TO 18.)


The Ypres Salient was fought over during practically the whole of the
war. The first battle of Ypres, during the "race to the sea," was in
October-November, 1914, when the Kaiser stayed at Thielt (twenty-five
miles north-east of Ypres) for five days at the beginning of November
to be ready to enter the city, only to suffer one of his many
disappointments when the "old Contemptibles" kept him out. The Germans,
however, got as far as Hooge, only two and a half miles away from the
city, and were there for more than two years. An extremely interesting
account, which is very pleasant reading, of the close co-operation of
the British and French Armies in this first Ypres battle is given by
General Dubois in a book just published.[5] It was presumably when
French and Foch met on the 31st of October, the most critical day,
that the reported conversation occurred (if it ever occurred), in
which French's view that there was nothing left but to die was met by
Foch with the characteristic rejoinder that they had better stand fast
first - they could die afterwards.

[5] Dubois, "Deux Ans de Commandement."

The second battle of Ypres lasted from April to June, 1915, and during
this battle the first use of poison gas was made, at St. Julien. Except
in the St. Julien region the lines remained practically where they were
after the three months' fighting. In spite of this a captured order
issued to the German Army in August, 1915, said that "peace in October
is certain"!

Mr. Buchan tells a story characteristic of our Tommies, that during
a retirement ordered in May one man "solemnly cleaned and swept out
his dugout before going."[6] But this was equalled by the tidiness of
the old body in Ypres (mentioned in Sister Marguerite's Journal), who
came out and swept away the débris of the last shell which had burst in
front of her house, quite regardless of the continuous bombardment.

[6] Buchan, vol. vii., p. 37.

The third battle of Ypres began with our capture of the Messines Ridge
on the 7th of June, 1917, and lasted till November of the same year,
by which time Ypres was so far "cleared" that our lines were close to
Gheluvelt (five miles from the city), and extended from Passchendaele
and Houthulst on the north to Messines and Hollebeke on the south.

Then in April, 1918, came the great German break-through, when the
Allies lost Armentières and Bailleul, Kemmel and Messines, and the
enemy was in Merville and Estaires, and was inside Zillebeke and Hooge,
and less than a couple of miles from Ypres along the Menin Road.


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