WW1 Photos Centenary Website: 2014-2018 By Paul Reed

Aftermath: Battlefield Wilderness Somme 1920

Nearly a century after the Great War it is hard for modern battlefield visitors to imagine what a desolate wasteland the battlefields were immediately after the war. In areas like Flanders and the Somme nothing was left after four years of war; buildings were dust, ground was polluted by gas and the battlefields overgrown with war detritus scattered everywhere.

The journey made by the unknown photographer who took these stereo card images featured over the past couple of weeks was quite something in 1920 and this image shows the sort of landscape he had to deal with. His car has paused on an old battlefield trackway. These paths were created by men of the Labour Corps to allow movement across the devastated zone and were usually made of wood planking or railway sleepers. The sleeps were often covered with hessian material so that those using it had some degree of traction. By 1920 many were still in use as the only ways to cross areas where the fighting had been at its greatest.

The caption for this image reads ‘Mametz Wood‘ – one of the key areas of fighting on the Somme in both 1916 and 1918 and where in July 1916 the 38th (Welsh) Division suffered heavy casualties in their first major battle of the Great War.

4 responses

  1. kirosl

    Thanks for putting up these images. I’m particularly interested in this period – immediately after the war and it’s fascinating to see these photographs.

    04/04/2012 at 08:12

  2. I agree with kirosl, this era is fascinating. We often overlook the aftermath of things as we are obsessed with the ‘eye of the storm’. I have always almost been more interested in the afterwards, the ‘what happened next’ and these pictures have really helped me to visualise what I could previously only imagine. Thanks for sharing!

    04/04/2012 at 21:45

  3. Rogério de Oliveira Souza

    A really good set of pics. We can imagine the destruction of the War either after Its end. How those peoples thought and suffer? They are all heroes.

    06/04/2012 at 14:36

  4. Pingback: Aftermath: Battlefield Wilderness Somme 1920 | The Mad Game – A Love and War Series

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