Exploring the Somme south of Albert

First visit of the day was to Morlancourt, a village used as a staging post for troops en route to the front at Thiepval. The scene below is the village in 1915/16, before the Battle of the Somme.


We were doing the present day photograph outside the house on the immediate right of the above photograph. It was clear that the church today is very different from that on the photograph. Perhaps this was war damage that led to rebuilding. Luckily the owner of the cottage came out to find out what was happening. He was immediately impressed by our mission, but was able to explain that the church in front of us is not the one on the old photograph. He took us inside the cottage, where we met his wife and together they showed us their collection of WW1 photographs and in particular the photograph of the church that we were looking for. He had the photograph of the road outside his house so we photographed that, then he took us by car the short distance to the location of the church which had been destroyed in WW1. That location is in the photograph below.


The next village was Proyart. Again there was an amazing surprise. Upon walking past a group of men to take the present day photograph, the Mayor introduced himself and asked what we were doing and if we had the time he would show us some things of WW1 that he was confident we would be interested in. Retrieving the keys from his car he took us into the back room of his office which was a museum of maps, artefacts, photographs, personal accounts and copies of newspapers and magazines that told the story of the French battle at his village on August 29th 1914. At this time in WW1 the small number of British soldiers were unable to help but with cunning the French managed to trap the Germans and stop their advance until more British troops arrived on the Western Front. This is where the Lisle family started their active service. It was a most interesting interlude and informed us about something so rarely explained back home.




During the afternoon we made a quick visit to the Tank Memorial (British) at Pozieres. This commemorates the first extensive use of tanks in war during September 1916.

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Across the road is the mound of earth upon which the Pozieres windmill used to stand. This windmill offered views over both front lines so both sides were desperate to hold it. The Australians finally held it in 1916 but suffered their biggest losses in doing so.

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Across the valley is the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme. On one of the panels is the name Partington J who was a cousin of Grandad Partington. He was killed in action in July 1916, but initially recorded as missing.

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