To recall the trenches of the Western Front is to by at my grandfather’s side. It started with sitting on his knee after Sunday lunch. And so I was told and retold stories of his recruitment into the Durham Light Infantry, his transfer to the Machine Gun Corps and then nearly two years somehow surviving Arras, the Somme and the worst of them all – Third Ypres and the mud of Paschendaele before he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he qualified as a Fighter Pilot as the War came to an end. I will never tire of stories and facts about WW1 – this is the best blog for a regular dose.
The Western Front at its peak was over 450 miles long, stretching from the Belgian coast at Nieuport to the Swiss border near the village of Pfetterhouse. The terrain along that front varied widely from the flat plains of Flanders to the rolling downland of the Somme, through forests like the Argonne and into mountains when it reached the Vosges.
On the Belgian end of the front, at Nieuport, the trench system ran right up to the beach, with that end of the Western Front literally petering out in the sand. For most of the war it was held by the Belgian Army but in 1917 British troops took over the sector in the lead-up to what was eventually an abandoned plan to make seaborne landings further up the coast. However, in July 1917 the Germans went on the offensive here and attacked the forward positions held by British…
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