The French Sector, north of the Somme, from the Belvédère de Vaux, overviewing the lakes of the Somme, a visit to Bouchavesnes and Rancourt in 3 photo pages.
Later we will visit the the former French front sector,
south of the Somme.
We start at the French Jump Off Line with a panorama view
from the Belvedère de Vaux over the marshes and lakes of
the meandering Somme into the direction of Curlu ...
... and to Hem, the first targets,
that General Fayolle's VIth Army would reach the first day
of the Battle of the Somme.
For now we stay north of the Somme.
We make a large jump to the utter line,
the French would reach in November 1916.
At the start of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916
General Fayolle's VIth Army was responsible for the
offensive in the French Sector.
North and South of the Somme river
Fayolle commanded himself the XXth Army Corps,
reinforced by 39th Infantry Division and
Battallions of Chasseurs Alpins.
South of the Somme General Micheller commanded
the Xth Army,
reinforced with the 1st Colonial Army Corps
and the 35th Army Corps.
The opponents of the French were 3
German Divisions of the IInd Army of
General Fritz Von Below.
From the first day the French reached their targets.
After conquering Curlu and Hem, North of the Somme,
the French Armies had to wait for 2 weeks,
before the British Army was recovering from it's shock
and disappointment of the heavy losses,
and conquered Mametz Wood.
Then the French continued their offensive,
in the northern sector.
South of the Somme General Micheler reached all his
targets around 20 July 1916 via Dompierre-Becquincourt,
Fay, Soyecourt, Plateau de Flaucourt, until Biaches.
But the French failed to take Péronne,
and more south, Chaulnes.
On 20 July 1916 the French Armies conquered in their
northern sector Combles until the lines at Hardecourt
and the Wood of Pierre St. Vaast.
On 12 september 1916 the French Armies reached
the sector of Bouchavesnes, Rancourt,
and Sailly Sallisel, and would get stuck there.
Map of the situation and battle order of the belligerent parties along the Somme Front.
Arthur Banks' sketch of the French Sector of the 1916 Battle of the Somme.
I marked with stars those locations, we have visited.
We enter the village of Bouchavesnes from
the Route Nationale 17, from Rancourt to Péronne,
passing this statue of Maréchal Foch.
This statue commemorates the conquest of Bouchavesnes
on 12 September 1916, and again the taking by
the British forces on 1 September 1918,
and of course Marshall Foch himself ,
being Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in 1918.
Foch thought afterwards,
Bouchavesnes was the most significant sector of
the French Somme Offensive of 1916!
The Battlefield around Bouchavesnes used to be a salient,
from St. Pierre Vaast Wood, around Bouchavesnes,
east of the Route Nationale,
bending back at the south following the riverside of the Somme.
View from the east to the village of Bouchavesnes.
Next to the village church:
"IN MEMORY OF ALL OUR COMRADES OF THE 91Tth INFANTRY REGIMENT,
FALLEN IN THE ATTACKS AT THE WOOD OF St. PIERRE VAAST OCTOBER 1916."
Outside and east of the village I made this panorama view
of the former battlefield from south to north.
Centre on the horizon: Rancourt. Right on the horizon:
St. Pierre Vaast Wood.
Besides the statue and a memorial cross in the village,
there are hardly any relics to detect.
The only relic of those times I found, was this German 77 mm shell,
lying at my feet.
A view from the same location north-eastward,
to the tip of the former small salient.
We return to the Route Nationale 17 to go northward
to visit the French National Cemetery,
and the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof just outside Rancourt village.
A view from the same point outside Bouchavesnes to Rancourt.
Continue to the next chapter: