La place d’armes d’Albert: images of destruction of Albert during WWI (in French, but mostly images).
Albert was founded as a Roman outpost, in about 54 BC. After being known by various forms of the name of the local river, the Ancre, it was renamed to Albert after it passed to Charles d’Albert, duc de Luynes. It was a key location in the Battle of the Somme in World War I . . . The German army recaptured the town in March 1918 during the Spring Offensive; the British, to prevent the Germans from using the church tower as a machine gun post, directed their bombardment against ‘imaginary’ trenches the other side of the basilica as orders specifically stopped them from targeting buildings in the town; the line of fire took the artillery through the basilica, thus it was destroyed. The statue fell in April 1918 and was never recovered. In August 1918 the Germans were again forced to retreat, and the British reoccupied Albert until the end of the war. Albert was completely reconstructed after the war, including widening and re-orienting the town’s main streets.
The prosperous, industrial town of Albert, whose population before the war numbered more than 7,000 inhabitants, is to-day entirely in ruins. Lying at the foot of a hill, on both sides of the River Ancre, Albert formerly went by the name of Ancre. At the beginning of the seventeenth century Albert belonged to Concini, the favourite minister of Marie de Medicis, but after his downfall in 1619 it became the property of Charles d’Albert, Duke of Luynes, who gave it his name. . . . The shelling of the town began on September 29, 1914, and continued unceasingly until it had been annihilated. The numerous iron and steel works, mechanical workshops, sugar factories and brick-kilns, which had contributed to the prosperity of the town, were specially singled out by the enemy artillery. No public building, not excepting the civilian hospital, was spared. In spite of the Red Cross flag which floated over the hospital, the Germans, with the help of an aeroplane, directed a violent artillery fire upon it on March 21, 1915, killing five aged inmates and wounding several others, as well as the Superior. In October, 1916, Albert was at last out of range of the German guns. But in 1918 the British were unable to withstand the overwhelming German thrust, except on the west of the town, and the latter fell into the hands of the enemy on March 26, after desperate fighting. Albert remained in the first enemy lines until August 22, when the British counter-offensive, which was destined to clear the whole district—this time definitely—was launched.
“Illustrated Michelin Guides to the Battlefields: The Somme, Volume I The First Battle Of The Somme (1916-1917)”, Michelin & Cie, 1919