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Blot on the Landscape


JimSmithson
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I came across this the other day wandering the high ground, following the line of the Siegfried Stellung attacked by 21st Div on 9th April (yes I was careful crossing the TGV line and the motorway!, I looked both ways twice).

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My bit of French tells me some rather tall propeller like constructions will be appearing here sometime soon, there being 2 other signs similar to this for other fields in the area. So if you, like me, have enjoyed peaceful walks up on this quiet part of the countryside (when not being shot at by the French) then make the most of them before the builders arrive.

My reckoning is that they will be built almost directly over the German trenches to it will be interesting to see how deep they dig and what they find.

Jim

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Hi Jim,

the section of 21st Division was southern of Neuville-Vitasse. Hope they will not disturb the landscape northern of the village with their buildings.

Glad to read you are not shot by hunters, neither hit by TVG nor by lorries at the motorway. I guess you promenade in a still dangerous site. :P

Best wishes to you

Fritz

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Hello Jim, Fritz

Where abouts were you, is it already near to an industrial zone or is it a "green field site"?

Andy

:rolleyes:

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Hi Fritz and Andy

It's quite near the motorway/railway so I suppose nobody feels it 'harms the environment' but it does cut the battlefield as you can see on the maps I've put together below using Linesman. The first modern map gives you a feel for where they will go, about 5 of them I think inside the shape I've drawn. The same shape is then on the second trench map showing where the Hindenburg Line is in relation to the site.

post-28845-1235248185.jpg

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post-28845-1235248229.jpg

On a happier note look out for some additions to your long running Thread Fritz on 'What sort of bunker is this'. The day was spoilt a bit by the signs for the new windfarm (and a bit of rain) but had its highlights as you will see. I can now write with more understanding about the experiences of the 64th Brigade during 9th to 11th April - see what I found (I think!! :huh: )

Jim

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Personally, I am all for renewable energy, but the jury is still out on inland wind farms. I have seen them change quite a few battlefield locations in the past five years; there are some just down the road from here. The financial reward for communes is so immense few can resist, but it certainly changes the area forever. I suspect the developers will have no idea what lies beneath these fields.

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I agree with Paul's comment with regard to the necessity of providing the planet with new forms of energy...it is a contoversial subject, and one that in many ways goes beyond the remit of this forum.

However, what I think IS relevant (and which links to previous threads) is the extent to which we can all expect the French and Belgian governments to preserve EVERY area in which Great War events took place. The old Western Front is not (as regretable as some members may feel) a 'National Park' but a living, working environment. Much as a part of me hates to see bits and bobs destroyed we must also remember that those who defended the land did not do so in order to keep a devastated strip of land as it was at the end of the conflict.

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The footprint of a wind turbine is actually very small, and if it helps the environment then it can only be a good thing.

Mick

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I have a relative in the 'business' that tells me it is a very fine line between energy consumption in creating the generators and the energy created from them, they have to be very efficient. Anyhow, that aside, I agree we cannot protect all battlefield sites, however, 2 factors for me.

Firstly, although it is eventually a small footprint a big hole is dug first. Do we ignore the fact that this dig might bring 'items' to the surface. What happened when the nearby motorway/railway were built? I really do not know - that is not a metaphorical question! :huh:

Secondly - it is simply a nice peaceful place to walk and like any local (yes I will be able to see them) resident I am concerned at the loss of more and more of such areas.

Jim

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I think that's a very sensible statement, Petroc.

Yes so it is ... says my brain.

But there is the fact that this section is an only cemetery and is still containing a lot of bodies. Smashed by shell-fire, buried alive in the earth, lost in destroyed burials. For example 75% of the deaths of I.R. 163 have no known graves. May be some of them are in the mass-grave of St. Laurent-Blangy or Neuville-St. Vaast, but a lot will still rest at the battle-field.

At Verdun they speak about 80 000 bodies?

Fritz

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My reckoning is that they will be built almost directly over the German trenches to it will be interesting to see how deep they dig and what they find.

Hi Jim,

I have sent the details of these wind turbines and their proposed location to Peter Barton and asked him to check with Alain Jacques, archaeologist in the Arras area. I would suspect that his team know all about it. It will be interesting to see if they have any plans to do any digging prior to the turbines being put up. I’ll let you know what Alain says.

Regards

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Thanks Jeremy. That makes me feel a bit better. If Alain needs any willing but amateur digger in the area one summer (or the odd other week) he can get in touch with me - I'd love to help! B)

Jim

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Thanks Jeremy, that's the most sensible course of action. AAs I have said before development on the Front will go on so preservation by record (to use the jargon) is the way forward.

The developers ought to have thought about the Great War archaeology, if for no other reasons than UXO and the potential for deep dugouts. It would be unfortunate to have a turbine fall over because it collapsed one of the the bunkers!

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Are we saying then that the professional civil engineers who will be responsible for erecting these structures will not do a site survey?

TR

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No, it will all be drilled and the foundation calculated from the cores recovered. I would expect for the planning to be approved that some heed to the areas history would be made. It would be very irresponsible and potentially dangerous if not.

Roop

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Roop

Thanks for that, just the point I was making. Civil engineering companies across Western Europe have similar procedures, and that includes previous land usage, including wartime.

TR

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I am in the area pretty often now so I will try and keep everyone posted on how events unfold.

Jim

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Pals

Firstly may I say that I completely endorse Petroc's comments.

However, I have an attachment to this area as (a) my wife's G-uncle is buried in Heninel-Croiselles and (B) my G-uncle won his MM just in front of Cuckoo Passage (remembered for the Manchesters, but there are 8 VICs there who died the day the MM was awarded).

I am fortunate, inasmuch, as I have taken all the photos I need, having visited the area on several occasions, have my own, lasting memory which will not be confused by any new structures that appear.

We cannot and should not stop this kind of progress.

Rgds

Andy

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Although a wind turbine has a relatively small footprint its supporting infrastructure does not. Turbines are useless unless connected to a grid, to do this either underground (needing trenches to be dug) or overhead cabling (pylons) is needed. Each turbine requires its own cable set up - there may also be substations and switches needed. In addition the turbines need regular inspection and maintenance which requires access roads to be built capable of carrying relatively heavy lorries. In an area with significant archaeological content (as well as being effectively a graveyard) this could all result in quite a bit of unwonted disturbance. A further problem (seemingly ignored) is that the laying down of hard surfaces in the form of roads etc can impact on run off and drainage issues, especially if the area already has problems anyway.

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Surely, they will have to do a survey of the land and what lies below. I live across from the Scout Moor Windfarm in Lancashire. It is place on a site of old quarries and mines. I have read that prior to it being done, a company was employed to survey the land. It is sad that an area will be changed, but from one perspective, there is also the global future to remember.

If they do survey the area, it would be interesting to see what they find.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Hi Jim,

I have sent the details of these wind turbines and their proposed location to Peter Barton and asked him to check with Alain Jacques, archaeologist in the Arras area. I would suspect that his team know all about it. It will be interesting to see if they have any plans to do any digging prior to the turbines being put up. I’ll let you know what Alain says.

Regards

Hi Jim,

A quick update for you. Peter saw Alain yesterday and reported back that Alain is 'looking into it'. So, no definite news as yet but it is in hand. As soon as I get something definite I'll pass it on.

Cheers

Jeremy

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its funny they always want to put wind turbines in country areas its about time those in London and Paris had a few , a nice big one on the Eifle tower and convert Londons big eye thingy into one as well. The dam things (wind turbines) are horrid.

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Hi Jim,

A quick update for you. Peter saw Alain yesterday and reported back that Alain is 'looking into it'. So, no definite news as yet but it is in hand. As soon as I get something definite I'll pass it on.

Cheers

Jeremy

Thanks Jeremy. I will be there at the end of May so any news would be useful.

Jim

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