Excerpt from The Western Front
From this road, at one point or another, you can see most of the places that were made famous in 16. A mile and a half from Albert, as you go out north-eastward, you spy in a hollow below you a whitish sprinkling of mixed mud, brick dust and lim... e, the remains of La Boisselle, on the right of the road: On its O left a second grey patch is the site of Ovillers. Beyond La Boisselle Contalmaison is just out of sight behind a shoulder of hill. Nearly all the most hard-fought woods are in sight-e - High Wood on the sky-line, and Delville Wood larger on its right,' and then in succession, with sharp intervals of bareness between them, the woods of Bazentin, Mametz and Fricourt. Above them and more distant are the dense trees that have Maricourt and the French troops at their feet, and, high on their right, the thin file of trees shading the road that runs from Albert, past Carnoy and Clery, to Peronne. You walk on for three miles and may not observe that you have passed through Pozieres, so similar are raw chalk and builder's lime, raw clay and powdered brick, when weeds grow thick over both. But the great road - strangely declined into a rough field track - begins to fall away before you, and new prospects to open - Courcelette and Martinpuich almost at your feet, and straight beyond them the church and town hall of Bapaume at the end of the long avenue of roadside trees. Looking left you see, two miles away, the western end of the summit ridge, the last point upon it from which the Germans were driven; so that, even after the fall of Thiepval, a shell would sometimes come from the Schwaben Redoubt to remind unwary walkers at Pozieres Windmill that enemy eyes still watched the lost ground.
Among the wreckage of the countryside you can detect the traces of old standing comfort and rustic wealth. The many wayside windmills show you how much corn was grown. In size and plan they are curiously like the mighty stone dovecotes of F ifeshire. Almost as frequent as ruined windmills are ruined sugar refineries, standing a little detached in the fields, like the one at Courcelette, for which armies fought as they fought for the neighbouring windmill. Beet was the next crop to grain. There were little industries, too, like the making of buttons for shirts at Fricourt, where you see by the road small refuseheaps of old oyster shells with many round holes where the little discs have been cut cleanly out of the mother-of-pearl, though all other trace of the factories has vanished. Each village commune had its wood, with certain rights for the members of the commune to take timber; Fricourt Wood at the doors of Fricourt, Mametz Wood rather far from Mametz, as there was no good wood nearer. All these woods were well fenced and kept up, like patches of hedged cover dotted over a park. It was a good country to live in, and good men came from it. The French Army Corps that drew on these villages for recruits has won honour beyond all other French Corps in the battle of the Somme.
About the Publisher
Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.