The road from Erches

The photograph on the title banner of this website was taken in September 1999. It provides an idea of what the landscape might have looked like for the men of 11 DLI on 27 March 1918. Behind the viewfinder is the village of Arvillers while the road ahead leads towards the village of Erches. Off to the right, somewhere in that field, were the roughly dug, shallow trenches and funk holes made by 11 DLI.

On that Spring morning it was probably foggy and cold, as it had been for the past week. There would have been explosions from artillery, the sound of machine gun fire and rifle shots. The land is flat, with little or no cover. What cover there was happened to the advantage of any approaching enemy – a line of trees up ahead, an ominous dip on the right towards the River Avre containing who knew what.

In September 1999, it was afternoon, silent and sunny. Across the field to our right were two or three farm workers deep in conversation. We were thinking of my grandfather, just as I am as I write this piece on the anniversary of his death. In the pit of the stomach, we experienced the strange sensation – there was no place to hide. It was the end of the road.

 

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