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Western Front, Northern France – April 1916

From J P Harriss (2008:267) Successive advances in the Battle of the Somme July-November 1926

From J P Harriss (2008:267) Successive advances in the Battle of the Somme July-November 1926

Carte postale éditée par l'agenda PLM de 1919 ...

Carte postale éditée par l’agenda PLM de 1919 Péronne (Somme) : La place de la Cathédrale (après les destructions le la Première guerre mondiale) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British trench near the Albert–Bapaume road at...

British trench near the Albert–Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 There were twelve machine gun companies.

There were mules and officer’s horses and the limbers to transport. It took two train loads. We travelled down to Southampton arriving at about 4 or 5 in the morning.

We had to wait around all day on account of enemy submarines in the English Channel.

Then onto a troop ship, or something to take us over to Le Havre. It was accompanied by a destroyer. We spent all night on the ship. They were watching out for submarines. I had a walk about on the deck. We got a cup of tea and a bun. It was packed. The following afternoon we landed at Le Havre accompanied by a Destroyer. It was a beautiful hot sunny day. I remember the cobble stones.

We just got out and fell asleep; we were dead beat.

Eventually we were loaded into cattle trucks, not carriages.

We crawled up to the rail head at Bethune. We passed a farm, an orchard, the thing was travelling so slow the lads jumped off and pinched apples then got back on the train.

When we got to the railhead we were near as possible to the Front Line at Neuve Chapelle.

There was no real action when I was there, no one went over. There was plenty of sporadic shelling, otherwise it was quiet. They were getting ready for the Somme do.

I was in four places:

Vielle Chapelle, Arras, the Somme and Passchendaele.

On the Somme, we went from Peronne, then to Albert, Bapaume and Combles, Cambrai followed by Caix.

We moved about there.

We were gradually taking parts of the line over from the French in the South.

104th MCG arrived on 28th April. They were in Peronne by 22nd May. (From the History of the 35th Division)


WW2 The Assassination of Jean Jaures, Paris

Jean jaures

Jean jaures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 56 year Jean Jaures, the Socialist leader in France, was an enthusiastic, educated and informed voice in 1914 Europe. He wanted to finding a peaceful settlement between European powers after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. His arguments however went counter to the mood of late July 1914 as Austria, Germany and Russia and the Serbs mobilised for war.

Jean Jaures was teaching philosophy at the University of Toulouse when in 1892 he had supported the miners of Carmaux when they went on strike over the dismissal of their leader, Jean Baptiste Calvignac. Jaurès’ campaigning forced the government to intervene and reinstate Calvignac’s. The following year Jaurès stood for election and became deputy of Carmaux in the Midi-Pyrenees, a seat he lost in 1898 largely as a consequence of his staunch support to overturn of the false accusations against Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been falsely accused of spying for Germany. During his time out of government Jaurés completed the mammoth ‘Socialist History of the French Revolution’.

As leader of the Socialist Party, Jean Jaures became a figure of hate of a radical and probably unhinged nationalist Raoul Villain, a 29 year old studying archaeology in Paris and a member of the League of Young Friends of Alsace-Lorraine.

Villain bought a revolver and stalked the socialist leader keeping tabs on his every movement in a pocket-book.

At around 9.40pm on Friday, July 31st Villain approached Le Cafe du Croissant at the corner of Rue Monmarte and Rue du Croissant in Paris. Jaures was discussing with colleagues how to make an appeal to the US President Woodrow Wilson when Villain saw him sitting in a bay window. Villain raised the revolver and shot Jaures twice in the head.

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