Vanishing Point: Carnoy to Montauban

I'm not far from here. Sitting in a hotel room on a laptop, near a roundabout and Le McDonalds, watching a dubbed film which was bad enough in English in the first place. So I thought I'd start doing something apart from lazy hotel drinking. Carnoy is just to the...

Vanishing Points: Tyne Cot

If and when you visit the Western Front, which a huge and growing number of people do partly because of the centenary and partly because you know, corner of a foreign field and all that family stuff, you are entering a piece of ground that is pretty much at the...

Trench Fever

I thought it was about time I did a bit of quantifying, I've done a something in a previous piece here, which scratches at the back of a story but only tells the penultimate episode of it not the rest, there's other bits clanging and banging about on the internet that...

Vanishing point: The Leaning Madonna

She's not leaning anymore obviously, originally designed by sculptor Albert Roze and dubbed the 'Golden Virgin' - she stands holding aloft a golden baby Jesus on the very top of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebières in the middle of Albert. In fact she's very shiny...

Vanishing point: Guillemont, Trones and Jünger’s Lane.

It suddenly struck me yesterday, what I'm trying to finish the unfinishable. The Great War may have ended in 1918, but it didn't, and so it goes, new layers of images, understanding and history being laid down with every word typed and shutter click. I'd set various...

Here are the young men

I've been rescuing these boys from Junk shops for years, those 50p unknowns, the Great Uncles who maybe died and had no children, they become orphaned from their families, so I've ended up with an old biscuit tin full of these lads. Mostly Brits, but a few Aussies and...

Vanishing Points

Landscapes of the Western Front. These were written to accompany the form and process of producing Vanishing Points and some were used to support the exhibition.

Vanishing Point: Dartmoor – father and son

Vanishing Point: Dartmoor – father and son

There's a focus, out there. You'll see it in most cemeteries on the old front. The famous dead, the men, and boys who achieve some infamy by dint of their bravery, age or circumstances. Sometimes it's a footballer who scored big in 1912 before signing away four years,...

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Vanishing Point: Bernafay Wood

Vanishing Point: Bernafay Wood

Bernafay Wood After Carnoy the cloud started to drop, a shield of it obliterated the sun. Within twenty minutes the light had almost completely failed, the air filled with prickles of moisture. It took a good hour to lift as the edge of a small front slid in from the...

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Vanishing point: Courcelette

Vanishing point: Courcelette

I've been fortunate at times out on the front, walking the levelled trenches, across the flattened shell holes and in the regrown woods. You meet people, some you know via the curious enmeshed world of social media, shared interests in a shared space eventually made...

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Vanishing Point: Carnoy to Montauban

Vanishing Point: Carnoy to Montauban

I'm not far from here. Sitting in a hotel room on a laptop, near a roundabout and Le McDonalds, watching a dubbed film which was bad enough in English in the first place. So I thought I'd start doing something apart from lazy hotel drinking. Carnoy is just to the...

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Lost boys: Sid Northrop

Lost boys: Sid Northrop

I recently rediscovered this. It was something I'd put on Flickr. It is the tale of another family member and his last few days and hours in the Great War. We visited the panel he is remembered on at Tyne Cot a couple of years ago. He was my grandmother Jesse Parr's...

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Vanishing points: The Bull Ring, Etaples

Vanishing points: The Bull Ring, Etaples

Etaples was one of the main base camps along the coast of Northern France, being a port, a lot of men, thousands of them would have disembarked here. Many more would have embarked. It was known as "The Bullring", as were most of the base camps, but this one was the...

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Vanishing Point: Out of sight

Vanishing Point: Out of sight

Genealogy is an inconsistent science, and growing a family tree can quickly become an obsessive piece of semi-fictional detective work. The urge to push further and further backward heading into our peasant laden past, hankering after the occasional sight of a king or...

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Vanishing Point – Langemark

Vanishing Point – Langemark

Langemark is I feel one of the most desolate corners of the Western front. As I mentioned in another piece on Vladslo there is something so desperately bleak and sad about German cemeteries. They don't lack in any of the respectfulness of the loss or the death or the...

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Vanishing Point: Devil’s Wood

Vanishing Point: Devil’s Wood

Oak is a feature of the English psyche, a fabled national wood if there is such a thing. It proliferates throughout our history from warships and traders building an Empire to the familiar furniture and ancient twisting house frames. The royal Oak subverted to shelter...

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Vanishing Point: High Wood

Vanishing Point: High Wood

At locations like High Wood, sometimes the only way to start these things is difficult, so here is a Piece of Mackintosh, not perhaps his best poem, but he can sum up the general situation in the area of High Wood better than I can. He knows what it was like because...

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Vanishing Point: Fricourt New Military

Vanishing Point: Fricourt New Military

The best and the worst of it all are hidden over a brow. You won't find the chattering crowds of the nexus points where death draws itself to a peak, this is not Thiepval or the Menin Gate. Nobody talks, no one sniggers, there is no rustle of frite wrapper when a hush...

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The Great War

More general writing and visual content on the Western Front and the Great War.

The Wilderspins

The Wilderspins

Suffolk regiment - Thiepval memorial. I just thought it was worth recording this little collection of grief, rolled down through 100 years, a whole family and one friend all commemorated at Thiepval, under the Suffolk Regiment's Panel. Whenever you go to any of the...

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Cambridge – persistence of memory

Cambridge – persistence of memory

Persistence of memory My mum grew up here. Her and therefore my ancestors were here for hundreds of years working as maids and cleaners, labourers, cartmen, and brickies, laying the railways, further back pulling the root veg through the surface of the peaty soils to...

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Trench Ghosts part 4

Trench Ghosts part 4

Langemark A few trench ghosts I did last week then got distracted and forgot about. One of Langemark and one of the Sugarloaf salient at Fromelles. The Langemark rephoto leaps out straight away. It's also familiar to anyone that's ever visited the German cemetery...

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Aerial ghosts: Messines updated

Aerial ghosts: Messines updated

I had a very interesting email today from Gil Bossuyt of frontaaltours.com which has prompted this post. Gil has been looking at the image I originally colourised in this piece. It goes thus: "I went searching on trench maps to recognize some road structures, and...

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WW1: Aerial Trench Ghosts Part 3 – Lens

WW1: Aerial Trench Ghosts Part 3 – Lens

Someone asked if I'd done any Loos aerials, I hadn't, it's not an area I'm hugely familiar with, it does tend to get forgotten in between all the noise about the Battle of the Somme and The Ypres Salient. There's plenty of front in between and some of it was very hard...

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Great War: Verdun in postcards

Great War: Verdun in postcards

Fort Vaux - Artillery observation post. A century on from events. These are in fact a post-war set of tourist cards I bought as part of an album at a flea market in France.  These are basically Verdun through a lens from some time after everything had been tidied up....

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Great War postcards: Blinded

Great War postcards: Blinded

Blinded A set of six postcards produced by the National Institute of the Blind, now RNIB for St Dunstans in Regent's Park. These were fundraisers for the trust. A slightly mawkish view of something fairly horrific, but then how do you honestly portray being blinded,...

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Join hands: Poppy day

Join hands: Poppy day

I am afraid I am heartily sick of poppies. I was in Ypres in the late summer of 2014 and started to write something about what the centenary of the war meant and how it was making me feel. It was the week the commemoration started for real, the end of the phoney war....

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Lost in a landscape: Ditchingham & Francis Derwent Wood

Lost in a landscape: Ditchingham & Francis Derwent Wood

An eye for an eye Ditchingham sits just North of the Norfolk Suffolk Border. It is to all intents and purposes a suburb of Bungay albeit in a different county and on the other side of a main road. The town and its satellite village sit on the edge of the gentle...

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Jagger Swagger

Jagger Swagger

All cities are full of nexus points, the crossings of networks of roads that run the city. Because most of our major ant colonies grow irregularly, they form and coalesce around point sin the landscape and those points shift and change over time, one centre can...

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Mystery: Albert and the returning troops 1916

Mystery: Albert and the returning troops 1916

A mystery photo. Last week Bethan Holdridge who works for the Museums service in Norwich invited me to have a look through her Great Grandfather Oliver Isaac Brown's collection of photos. He was a Suffolk man but lived in Great Yarmouth, a sapper in the Royal...

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Found photos: The lost boys of Cromer

Found photos: The lost boys of Cromer

I go through people's leftovers, their old clothes, the maps of lines on their faces, sit in their seats and eat from their plates; strangers' stuff. They are people I can't know nor ever will in the vast majority of cases, nearly all of them are unreachable; dead,...

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