100 years ago the battle of the Somme, synonymous with a huge loss of life and little gain in territory, had now been raging for exactly one month.
In this post I take you to the Lochnagar Crater on the edge of the village of La Boiselles in Piccardy, France.
Here soldiers at the British Front dug a shaft 90 feet deep (c.27m), before then tunneling 300 yards horizontally (c. 275m). The objective was to destroy a German stronghold and some 27 tons of explosives were placed to achieve this. The explosive mines were set off on 1st July 1916 at 7:28 am, two minutes before the main attack was to start.
Such was the force of the explosion that it was claimed that debris was shot in the air to a height of almost 4,000 feet (c.1200m).
Today the crater area is privately owned by Richard Dunning who bought it in July 1978 in order to preserve this historical and moving site. Visiting this site and walking around the rim is an incredible experience.
To get an idea of scale, here is the crater with a group of people on its far edge, partaking in a ceremony by a wooden cross.
In going to the crater with a good friend it struck me what an odd name for a crater, here in France; Lochnagar is a mountain not too far from Balmoral Castle in Scotland. In wartime the trenches were given names for identification purposes and as the 7th Gordons Battalion included many workers from the Balmoral Estate, one such trench was called Lochnagar.
The above image helps to underline the steep slopes of the crater with two people on the left edge by the trees emphasising the scale. It really is a moving experience to visit the site.
Richard Dunning has put together a most interesting site on the Lochnagar crater, including his own experience in coming to buy the site and a bit of its history. The main page is at lochnagarcrater.org and a whole load more fascinating details can be found at the Founders Page on this same site. I really would encourage you to take a trip to this site which I must also credit with assisting in putting together this post.
I will leave you with the header image, the lone poppy flower on the rim, to me it is somewhat beautiful and symbolic.
In memory of all the soldiers who fought in the first world war and thank you Richard Dunning for this moving memorial.