Shelled building, Namur, Belgium


Namur. Trou produit par un obus (à la Boulangerie du Bon Pain)
(Hole produced by a shell (at the Boulangerie du Bon Pain [bakery])
1910s

ATTACK ON NAMUR
LONDON, Aug. 20
The Official Press Bureau publishes as reliable an account of the attack, on Namur, given by Belgian Lieutenant Deppe. When Lieutenant Deppe left Namur on Sunday the Germans, with their 11in Howitzers, had knocked three north-eastern, forts to pieces. They advanced at intervals, and bombarded the town, which was defended by the fourth Belgian infantry.
Namur was completely evacuated on Sunday, the defenders being unable to withstand the heavy artillery fire.
The Germans attacked in three-rank formation–the front lying down, tho second rank kneeling, and the third rank standing. They afforded a splendid target. Machine guns and 30 batteries of Howitzers in sections were simultaneously concentrated on each of the forts, however, and smothered them.
Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1914

Acheux British Military Cemetery, France


ACHEUX
c.1918

The VIII Corps Collection Station was placed at Acheux in readiness for the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the graves of July, August and September 1916, in Row A and part of Row B, are the earliest in the cemetery. A few graves in Row B mark the period of eighteen months during which the field ambulances had moved eastwards and the cemetery was little used. The remaining graves cover the period April to August 1918, when the German offensives brought the Allied front line within 8 kilometres of Acheux. There are now 180 First World War burials in the cemetery.
Remembering the Fallen

The Acheux British Military Cemetery is a World War I military cemetery located in the French Commune of Acheux-en-Amiénois in the Somme Region. . . . In 1916 the VIII Corps field hospital prepared a collection station in preparation for the Somme Offensive. The first burials occurred in the period between July and August 1916. A small amount of burials then occurred in an 18 month period from August 1916 to early 1918. The remaining graves belonged to those who were killed between April and August 1918, a period in which the German Army had launched the Spring Offensive bringing the front line closer to Acheux-en-Amiénois.
Wikipedia

WW I trench & ruins, Diksmuide, Belgium

Google Street View (overview)=”https://432postcards.monissa.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Dixmude-3.jpg”>
Boyau de la mort à Dixmude | Le Cavalier avec ses postes de guetteurs
Doodengang te Dixmude | De Ruiter mel zijne posten en bespieders
(Dodengang/Trech of Death in Dixmude | The Cavalier post with lookout)
c.1920
Publisher: Nels (Ernest Thill)

Located in Dixmude the ‘Trenches of Death’ comprise preserved trenches featuring galleries, shelters, firesteps, chicanes, concrete duckboards and concrete sandbags. Together they give a fair impression of the makeup of trenches during the First World War – that is, notably leaving aside the quiet, serene nature of the trenches as they appear today. The Dixmude trenches were in fact held by the Belgians for over four years during the Battles of the Yser against determined German forces (often ranged just 100 yards away), hence their grim name.
firstworldwar.com

The Dodengang (Dutch, also called Trench of Death in English and Le Boyau de la mort in French) is a World War I memorial site located near Diksmuide, Belgium. . . . The Dodengang is a 300 yards (270 m) section of preserved trench where many men were killed in World War I. The trench was begun at the time of the Battle of the Yser which was manned by soldiers of the Belgian Army. As part of the Yser Front, it played a key role in preserving the front line in this area and stopping further German incursions across the Yser Canal. Belgian soldiers fought here under the most perilous conditions until the final offensive of 28 September 1918.
Wikipedia.


DIXMUDE. — Ruines. — Pant sur l’Yser et Entrée de la Ville
Ruins. — Bridge over the Yser and entrance of the town.
c.1920
Publisher: Nels (Ernest Thill)


Ruines de Dixmude | 1914-18 | Canal d’Handzaeme
The ruins at Dixmude | 1914-18 | Handzaeme canal.
c.1920
Publisher: Nels (Ernest Thill)

Belgian Army, WW I


Armée belge | Une section de mitrailleuses Maxim
(Belgian Army: a Maxim machine gun section)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

At the beginning of the First World War the Belgian Army could field only 102 machine guns. However, many of these guns were transported by a very unusual method. They were pulled on small gun carriages by specially trained dog teams. The machine guns seen in the photographs above are Maxim guns, but the Belgian Army also had a number of French Hotchkiss guns. The dogs used to pull the machine guns were Belgian Mastiffs, this strong breed were more than capable of drawing the 60lbs weight of a Maxim gun. . . .The relatively cheap cost of pack dogs compared to horses, along with their relative lack of maintenance – with no need for horse shoes etc, made the dogs an excellent option. They also offered a much lower profile than that of a pack horse, allowing them to stay close to the guns ready to move under cover when in action, and were much easier to handle without the need for specially trained troops. The dog teams were attached to most Belgian line infantry regiments with each battalion with 6 guns, split into 2-gun sections – each battalion had 36 dogs for the 18 gun and ammunition carriages. The machine guns could be brought into action very quickly and it was said that the dogs were so well trained they would remain quiet and patient in their harnesses until it was time to move again.
Historical Firearms


Armée belge | Les Cyclistes
(Belgian Amry: The Cyclists)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

Bicycle infantry are infantry soldiers who maneuver on (or, more often, between) battlefields using military bicycles. The term dates from the late 19th century, when the “safety bicycle” became popular in Europe, the United States, and Australia. Historically, bicycles lessened the need for horses, fuel and vehicle maintenance.
Wikipedia.

With the advent of WWI, the thickly-roaded districts of France and Flanders meant that military cyclists would find the ground better suited for their wheels than combatants found in the South African veldt. The flat landscape of the low countries meant that Belgium in particular was an ideal environment for military cyclists and they were well used in the initial stages before the static stalemate of the trenches set in. Four Carabinier battalions of the Belgian army had attached companies of cyclists. They wore a distinctive uniform with a somewhat old-fashioned peaked hat similar to a kepi. Their cycles were the “Belgica” which was a foldable cycle. This allowed the bicycle to be slung across the shoulder when encountering difficult terrain. A dedicated military cycling school in Belgium provided troops with specific training in reading maps, reconnaissance and communication techniques, as well as the mechanical skills needed to maintain the bicycles.
Suburban Militarism: Belgium’s Carabinier Bicyclists


Armée belge | Escadron de cavalerie
(Belgian Amry: cavalry squadron)
c.1914
Publisher: Nels

The use of horses in World War I marked a transitional period in the evolution of armed conflict. Cavalry units were initially considered essential offensive elements of a military force, but over the course of the war, the vulnerability of horses to modern machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire reduced their utility on the battlefield. This paralleled the development of tanks, which ultimately replaces cavalry in shock tactics. While the perceived value of the horse in war changed dramatically, horses still played a significant role throughout the war.
Wikipedia.

Water tower, Zeebrugge, Belgium


Zeebrugge – Château d’Eau
(Zeebrugge – Water tower)
c.1910

Built 1907, destroyed during World War I.

The harbour was the site of the Zeebrugge Raid on 23 April 1918, when the British Royal Navy temporarily put the German inland naval base at Bruges out of action. Admiral Roger Keyes planned and led the raid that stormed the German batteries and sank three old warships at the entrance to the canal leading to the inland port.
Wikipedia.


Ruines de Zeebrugge | 1914-18 | Château d’Eau et Abri
The ruins of Zeebrugge | 1914-18 | Water works and shelter
c.1919
Publisher: Nels (J. Revyn)

A book of postcards with a view of the replacement water tower (image 38) and a map showing the location (no. 19 on map).

Destroyed Tank, Belgium

Ruines d’Ypres-Hooge  | 1914-18 | Tank détruit
Ruines des Halles et Grand  Place | 1914-18 | A destroyed tank
c.1920
Publisher: Nels (Ernest Thill)

The red text (repeated on the back) is promoting a magarine factory in Belgium (link is in Dutch).

Wikipedia: Tanks in World War I

Wikipedia: British heavy tanks of World War I

Nobody was prepared for the bloody stalemate which prevailed during the First World War. Officers from all countries had in mind brash pictures of daring offensives with waving flags and blaring trumpets, epic cavalry charges and massive infantry squares marching under fire, bright uniforms, tactical genius and glory. This was quite a romantic view which was familiar to the commoners, the very same ones who then embarked with happiness and chants onto the trains. But, quickly, the grim reality of an attrition war became apparent, with death on an industrial scale. The early French offensives sank before the whirling staccato of the German Mauser machine-guns.

After a full retreat, the German offensive was miraculously stopped on the Marne, a few dozen miles north-east of Paris. From Belgium to Switzerland, all the opponents entrenched themselves. Artillery, barbed wire and machine guns took their toll on every offensive. On the German side, some attempts to break the stalemate included assault squads equipped with portable machine guns and grenades, as well as gas and flamethrowers. . . The idea of the “tank”, in the modern meaning of the word, appeared simultaneously in France and in Great Britain. In the latter, it was due to Lt. Col. Ernest Swinton, and in the former due to Col. Jean Baptiste Estienne. Both advocated the use of the Holt Tractor, which was then largely in use with the Allies as a gun tractor. This led to further developments and, despite many setbacks, culminated in 1916 when the first operational tanks were put to the test.
The Online Tank Museum

Albert, France


La Place d’Arme — The Arm Place.  Guerre 1914-19
c.1919


Guerre 1914-1918
ALBERT (Somme) — La Place d’Armes après le bombardement.
The Arm Place after the bombardment.
c.1919

Google Maps.

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.
Wikipedia.

Lange Max, Koekelare, Belgium


Pièce du Leugenboom à Moere
Chariot pour transport de munitions de l’abri à la pièce
(Cart for transporting ammunition from storage to the gun.)
On back:
Service des Sites de la Guerre 1914-18
Vendu au profit des Œuvres des Invalides et Orphelins de la Guerre
c.1920
Publisher: Nels (Ernest Thill)

Google Street View.

Lange Max Museum
Memories of the Great War: Leugenboom’s Lange Max (in French)

Batterie Pommern, also known as Lange Max, was the world’s biggest gun in 1917, during World War I. The German gun was of type 38 cm SK L/45 “Max” and had a modified design by Krupp compared to earlier German 38 cm gun types. The modification allowed the gun to shoot from Koekelare to Dunkirk, which is about 50 km away.

Batterie Pommern is located in Koekelare in the neighborhood called Leugenboom. It is part of Site Lange Max, next to the Lange Max Museum. Today, the immense artillery platform can still be visited.

The 15inch (38 cm) long range gun, protected by armour, was mounted on a steel bridge having a pivot in front. The rear part of the gun travelled along a circular rail-track in a concrete pit of about 70 feet in diameter. The gun was manoeuvred by means of electric motors. On either side were large shelters in reinforced concrete. In front of and below the platform there was an electric generator group. A large shelter of reinforced concrete on the right was probably the Post of Commandment. There was a dummy gun emplacement further on.
Wikipedia.

World War I (Before & After), Ypres, Belgium

Before

During
Boutique au coin des Halles avant et pendant la guerre.
Shop at the corner of the Halles, before and during the war.

These two pictures were on the same postcards. There are many single image cards and other photos showing war damage. There are some on the Great War in a Different Light site: a Personal Narrative of a Visit to the Ruined City and Ypres: the Unique City.