Contemporary witness reports of the great war

The following lines are from letters, written by an english soldier, sent to his family.

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Dear Mother

just a line to let you know that I am getting on alright. I hope you are the same. I am sorry I did not write before. We are so busy that I have had no time. We are confined to barracks so I can not get a stamp… I hope Tommy and Archie Hammond are all right. Give my love to Kitty, Lillie, Maggie, Freddy and Ted. I hope Dad is quite well… I thank you for forgiving me. I know I don’t deserve it. Tell Auntie Tot and Uncle Bob that I am getting on fine. Is Uncle Bob been called up yet? We are calling all our Reservists up and those on leave. This is all at present.

I remain your loving son, Stephen

The following lines are from letters, written by a french  soldier sent to his family.

The author Coquelin de Lisle, commander of the 255th. Infantry-brigade, died at Juni 11th 1916 at Fleury, Verdun :

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My Marie,

it was god’s willing; this letter will be the last one, you will read! I write this letter, after i got the order, to lead an attack, wich will cost many lives – maybe also mine.

I’m glad to give my life to france, i worked my hole live for it’s size and it’s strength. I will fade away as a christ, after I’ve done my religious duty…

Those letters show, that the soldiers sacrifice their lives for their countries.

The war was horrible for everyone and took to many lifes at each side.

By Florian and Andreas

Two days in Verdun

1. Douaumont :  The ossuary

The ossuary of Douaumont for the bones of the dead, which could not be identified after the Battle of Verdun. The remains of more than 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers are kept in it.

 

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2. Le Fort de Douaumont

The fort was part of the outer line of defense of the fortress from the 19th century, which consisted of eleven forts and 23 intermediate stations. The fort was built from 1885 to 1913 in two expansion and conversion steps in the overall concept of General Séré de Rivières. Today, about 200,000 people a year visit the Fort and the nearby Douaumont Ossuary and the military cemetery of Verdun. Fort de Douaumont was the largest and highest fort on the ring of 19 large defensive forts protecting the city of Verdun since the 1890s. Construction work started in 1885 near the village of Douaumont on some of the highest ground in the area. Over subsequent years, the fort was continually reinforced until 1913.

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3. Memorial de Verdun (1914-1918)

The Verdun Memorial is a war memorial to commemorate the Battle of Verdun, fought in 1916 as part of the First World War. It is situated on the battlefield, close to the destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont in the département of Meuse in north-eastern France.

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By Annalena Geiger, Melinda Genc (9b) and Quentin Defontaine (2nd 4A)

Battle of the Somme

Tuesday, 26th April 2016 we started our trip to Albert. We had our first stop at a giant hole, the Lochnagar mine.
A tunnel was dug under the „Schwabenhöhe“ and was filled with explosives. Overthere many German soldiers stayed waiting for the attack of the British, but they were killed, when the ammonal explosives burst under them.
Today the hole has a diameter of 91 meters and a deepness of 21 meters .

 

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Then we continued our route and looked at a golden statue of Madonna, at the top oft he Albert’s church.
The statue had an important meaning for the French , they said: “The war will be finished in the same year the Madonna is shot and falls down of the roof top.“

Afterwards we went to Fricourt and visited one of the many cemeteries, which are around the battlefield, where around 12 thousands German soldiers, who had fallen in the battle of the Somme, are buried.

After this we saw a very huge and impressive monument showing names of fallen soldiers.

 

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At the end of our tour we visited a museum, the historical of the great world war, which shows some facts about the Battle of the Somme.
Almost 20,000 men were killed on the first day, the 1st of July 1916.
It started with the usual preliminary bombardment. Lasting five days and involving 1,350 guns and 52,000 tonnes of explosives fired onto the German lines.
The Battle of the Somme was designed to relieve the pressure on the French suffering at Verdun. Most soldiers had received only minimal training and many had still to grasp the skill of shooting accurately.
On Saturday 1 July 1916, the first of seventeen mines was detonated; a huge explosion on the German lines at Hawthorn Ridge . The advance started ten minutes later. The massive explosions certainly alerted the German defenders to what was about to come.
To the right of the British, a smaller French force, transferred from Verdun. As ordered, the men advanced in rigid lines. The bombardment combined with heavy rain had ensured that the ground was akin to a sea of mud.
What followed went down as the worse day in British military history and perhaps in the history of warfare – 57,000 men fell on that first day alone, 19,240 of them dead.
On 14 July, following a partially successful nighttime attack , the British sent horses in the cavalry. But the horses became bogged down in the mud, the Germans opened fire and few survived, either horse or man.
On 15 September, Haig introduced the modern equivalent of the cavalry onto the battlefield – the tank, which got originated in Britain. Despite advice to wait for more testing, Haig had insisted on their use at the Somme. He got his way and the introduction of 32 tanks met with mixed results – many broke down but a few managed to penetrate German lines. Haig was impressed and immediately ordered a thousand more.
Soldiers from every part of the Empire were thrown into the melee – Australian, Canadian, New Zealanders, Indian and South African all took their part.
The battle finally terminated on 18 November, after 140 days of fighting. 400,000 British and Commonwealth lives were lost, 200,000 French and 400,000 German.The Germans, having been pushed; however the Allies hadn’t got more than 10 kilometres of land.

By Simon, Severin, Charles and Moritz

English, German and French War Cemeteries

German Cemeteries  :

Fricourt Cemetery : We went tot he Fricourt german cemetrry, where 11.700 soldiers rest in peace.  The crosses are black, with the name of one to for soldiers. The jewish soldiers have a special monument.

 

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German graves in Fricourt
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                                                                                                        Jewish german soldier grave

French Cemeteries :    

 

The „Ossuaire et nécropole de Douaumont“

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The crosses were made of white stones: more than 16.000 soldiers rest in peace…

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Muslims french soldiers grave

British Cemeteries :

 Thiepval memorial :

The Somme Memorial, erected in 1932 by the British government, is dedicated to the 73,367 British and South African soldiers missing in action between July 1915 and March 1918 and who have no known graves.

 

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On the left side of this Picture you can see a british Cemetary, and on the right, there is a french one.

 

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War dead are commemorated uniformly and equally, irrespective of military or civil rank, race or creed. This one is from an unknown soldier.

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By Gabriel and Luca

Lochnagar crater

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The crater is near the village La Boisselle, in the french Département Somme. It arised because of an explosion in the first world war on the first of July 1916 at 7:28 am. The british special detachement dug a tunnel from the british camp  16 meters underneath the german appointment „Schwabenhöhe“.They begun diging in November 1915 and finished in march 1916. They put 26,8 t explosive agent in two chambers connected with corridors under the german front. To this moment it was the greatest man-made explosion in the militarily history. The ground and debris were thrown 1200 meters high.at the same time there were 16 other explosions in the circumference of La Boiselle.

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The british soldiers attacked the german camp after the detonation but they waisted to much time between the explosion and the attack. Therefore they escaped into the crater, but this was their own death sentence, because the crater was easy and often attacked by the german soldiers. It was a big masacre for british armee. This day is still the most horrible day in the history of the british military.

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Every year on the first of  july at 7:28 am is at the crater a commemoration ceremony for the fallen soldiers.

On the wooden path around the crater are rolls of honour.

 

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The crater is 91 meters wide and 21 meters deep and therefore the biggest man-made hole ever.

By Theresa and Luisa