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horrocks

Wind Turbines at Ginchy?

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mjollnir

I have some more photos that I'll post here when I'm back with my files in a few days' time.

 

I spent quite a few hours during my visit walking the fields around the Quadrilateral - those that had been ploughed but not yet tilled. Interestingly, the field next to the small agricultural 'hard' (parking area and dumping ground) that lies within the Quadrilaterial had very few surface artefacts - a smattering of shrapnel bullets, some very small fragments of driving band and a few 7.92 cartridges. There is hardly any chalk in the topsoil here, by comparison with the fields around Guillemont and Ginchy. I think that the topsoil layer must be deeper here and the usual range of heavier metal artefacts such as shell fragments and parts of fuzes must lie below the reach of ploughing.

 

The spoil heaps had indeed been graded - I watched it happen to the one in the photo above. I did do a furtive exploration one evening (there are Keep Out signs) but found very little, unsurprisingly - the spoil excavated from the upper layers with war material must lie buried in the lower parts of the pile, covered by soil from the deeper excavation.

 

Regarding human remains, I saw quite a few fragments of bones in the ploughsoil elsewhere in this area. I am an archaeologist and once directed the excavation of a medieval cemetery in a ploughed field, so perhaps have an eye for them! One cluster of bone parts I saw near Ginchy close to leather pouching material and a clip of unused 7.92 rounds may be the relatively substantial remains of a German soldier; the rest I assume represent what is left when men are blown into small pieces. I left all that I saw in situ (it will all have been tilled by now), but I did photograph it.

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horrocks
Posted (edited)

A couple of images take this week which will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered as to the foundations that are required to keep these vast structures upright. The first shows the undercroft of the turbine adjacent - if that isn't an understatement - to the soon to be dwarfed Guards Memorial, the second that which lies opposite and just behind the Quadrilateral, just out of frame on the right hand side. The car offers a further reference as to the scale, which in the first example particularly is slightly exaggerated by the use of a wide angle lens, necessary to fit everything in!

 

20180517_4041_1024.jpg

 

20180517_4043_1024.jpg

 

mjollnir, a most interesting and informative post. Will you upload your pictures at some point?

 

Like you, I found no war materiel, bar a shell that has been set aside for collection at the Guards site, nor any human remains

Edited by horrocks

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Retlaw
41 minutes ago, horrocks said:

A couple of images take this week which will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered as to the foundations that are required to keep these vast structures upright. The first shows the undercroft of the turbine adjacent - if that isn't an understatement - to the soon to be dwarfed Guards Memorial, the second that which lies opposite and just behind the Quadrilateral, just out of frame on the right hand side. The car offers a further reference as to the scale, which in the first example particularly is slightly exaggerated by the use of a wide angle lens, necessary to fit everything in!

 

20180517_4041_1024.jpg

 

20180517_4043_1024.jpg

 

mjollnir, a most interesting and informative post. Will you upload your pictures at some point?

 

Like you, I found no war materiel, bar a shell that has been set aside for collection at the Guards site, nor any human remains

Do you believe that considering the money thats involved in projects of that size, and the costs and delays that would have occured if any human remains had been notified, not in a million years,  cover id over quick and get the concrete poured, say any thing and your out of a job.

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brummell

I find the photo of the works adjacent to the Guards' Memorial quite shocking.  I've visited it many times and have found that that lonely spot has always prompted reflection on just how empty and exposed that part of the battlefield was, away from the comparatively close country of woods and valleys to the south west; it always seems to me that it must have been somehow more unpleasant to live and try to fight in this empty and coverless area, without even the illusion of greater safety that closer country can bring, or without a sense of place.

 

Previously the only sound one heard at the Guards Memorial was the unfailing wind in one's ears and the very occasional vehicle on the Lesboeufs road.  I suppose that unfailing wind is now be that spot's downfall.  It won't be a particularly pleasant spot to visit when it's under the eerie and oppressive buzz of the turbine blades.  It'll still be instructive and one could still do all the things Gareth mentions above - but without the particular atmosphere that spot previously had and which I quite enjoyed.

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horrocks
On 17/05/2018 at 23:40, Retlaw said:

Do you believe that considering the money thats involved in projects of that size, and the costs and delays that would have occured if any human remains had been notified, not in a million years,  cover id over quick and get the concrete poured, say any thing and your out of a job.

 

No, I don't. Given that the CWGC wasn't even notified of the impending works, all the more so. The discovery of a single set of remains would likely close the site down for days, or at least it certainly would in this country.

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horrocks
1 hour ago, brummell said:

I find the photo of the works adjacent to the Guards' Memorial quite shocking.  I've visited it many times and have found that that lonely spot has always prompted reflection on just how empty and exposed that part of the battlefield was, away from the comparatively close country of woods and valleys to the south west; it always seems to me that it must have been somehow more unpleasant to live and try to fight in this empty and coverless area, without even the illusion of greater safety that closer country can bring, or without a sense of place.

 

Previously the only sound one heard at the Guards Memorial was the unfailing wind in one's ears and the very occasional vehicle on the Lesboeufs road.  I suppose that unfailing wind is now be that spot's downfall.  It won't be a particularly pleasant spot to visit when it's under the eerie and oppressive buzz of the turbine blades.  It'll still be instructive and one could still do all the things Gareth mentions above - but without the particular atmosphere that spot previously had and which I quite enjoyed.

 

With which I fully concur.

 

In the dusk of a leaden afternoon we march away from Trônes Wood through Guillemont and Ginchy. On the eastern side of the tiny village of Ginchy we are suddenly confronted with a wide, rolling, open plain over which there is no road but only a single ‘duckwalk’ track. Slowly the battalion stretches itself out in single file along this track, and one by one the men follow each other, till the trail extends like the vertebrae of an endless snake. On either side lies the open plain. Not a sign of life is anywhere to be seen, but instead there appear, in countless succession, stretching as far as the eye can pierce the gloom, shell holes filled with water. The sense of desolation these innumerable, silent, circular pools produce is horrible, so vividly do they remind me of a certain illustration by Doré to Dante’s Inferno, that I begin to wonder whether I have not stepped out of life and entered one of the circles of the damned; and as I look upon these evil pools I half expect to see a head appearing from each one. Here and there the succession of pools is broken by what appear in the fading light to be deep yawning graves, and over these our duckwalk makes a frail and slippery bridge. On and on we go. Jog, jog, jog behind one another, till slowly the merciful darkness shuts out all sight of this awful land of foreboding. But now the difficulty of our march increases, for many of the laths of these duckboards are broken, and in the darkness a man trips and falls, pitching his sandbag of rations or box of bombs into the mud that lies deep on either side of the track. Whenever this happens, the rest of the battalion behind him has to halt while he picks himself up, recovers his load and steadies himself on the track again before trying to make good the gap between himself and the man in front. Despite the cautions passed along the file a hundred times: ‘Look out’ – ‘Mind the gap’ –‘Hole there’, these mishaps constantly occur, till we in the rear wonder why in the name of Heaven long halts should be needed when those in front must still be miles from the trenches. At last the men in front move, and on we go again. On and on, till it seems we must be seeking the very end of nowhere, for still the Very lights, which will show us the line of the trenches, do not appear. Every now and then shells drop, sometimes near enough to spatter us with mud and make us shudder to think what kind of death we should meet if one dropped near enough to lift us into the watery, muddy depths of a shell hole. But even the shells seem to be wandering, for they come fitfully, as if they were fired from nowhere and had lost their way. On and on we go. It is getting towards midnight now. The duckwalk ceases and we come out on high grassland, where the going is good so long as we keep to the crest of the hill and pick a careful way between the shell holes.

 

Max Plowman

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BullerTurner

I'm not unsympathetic to those who cry foul.  However I feel that as long as the built landscape doesn't encroach on cemeteries and memorials, surely we fought to allow the French to do what they wish with their country.  For however much richer dust lies within, concealed or whether we consider this a corner of a foreign field that is forever England, it's their France.  So if they think that renewable energy is more important than battlefield conservation on whole scale bases, then that is something best left to the French.

 

who generally are quite respectful in construction - remember the A1M roadworks a while back - and putting a wind farm or similar does mean they aren't building house, Z.Is or similar on the ground?  I don't mean to be controversial, merely pragmatic.


 

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horrocks

Talking of which, there's an enormous structure being built beside the pill box at the Bapaume end of the Roman Road. I think it is probably agricultural silos. The pill box has thus far survived.

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horrocks
2 hours ago, BullerTurner said:

I'm not unsympathetic to those who cry foul.  However I feel that as long as the built landscape doesn't encroach on cemeteries and memorials, surely we fought to allow the French to do what they wish with their country.  For however much richer dust lies within, concealed or whether we consider this a corner of a foreign field that is forever England, it's their France.  So if they think that renewable energy is more important than battlefield conservation on whole scale bases, then that is something best left to the French.

 

who generally are quite respectful in construction - remember the A1M roadworks a while back - and putting a wind farm or similar does mean they aren't building house, Z.Is or similar on the ground?  I don't mean to be controversial, merely pragmatic.


 

  •  

 

I don't by any means disagree, but I think that my original point remains entirely valid. There are vast tracts of land on each side of the relatively narrow ribbon that defines the Western Front, and more still outside the even more compact area of the 1916 Somme battlefield, which I'm afraid that these 10 turbines are going to almost completely impose upon, and there are more popping up all around the periphery. The three on the Morval ridge have now become 5, and there are yet more behind Grandcourt, and a new cluster just having their blades mounted somewhere beyond Serre. And, as we have clearly seen, these particular turbines clearly encroach upon at least one memorial, and that leaves out completely the delicate matter of the apparent lack of any human remains.

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Petroc

Well, as an experienced, though very much still amateurish, battlefield visitor, I find myself very torn here. On the balance of things, however, I feel that I must gently (though not without protest) come down on the side of the locals, who have a livliehood to earn, families to support, taxes to pay and vehicles to run. There is little suggestion that any Commonwealth Memorials here are having to be moved by local works (and even if there WAS there are indeed precedants both in France and in Belgium) and though the immediate perspectives and views of the battlefields may be vaguely obscured should that necessarily detract from the memorials themselves? They still exist. The cemeteries remain. We, as custodians of the memories and histories of our descendants, cannot preserve every single under-threat piece of soil on which European blood fell,  in the Great War, those conflicts that followed it or those that preceded it for two thousand years before.... ..As an earlier post suggested, what was 'The Western Front'  is a living, evolving landscape, not a battlefield preserved in a jar. But as long as we can prioritise and preserve the principal sites (which I believe is pretty-much done) , maintain exisiting monuments and memorials (an ongoing process) and identify, excavate and record newly-recognised or appreciated sites which might (or inevitably) be destroyed.....well...Rome wasn't Built in a Day.....(But it was Probably Built on Top of Old Rome, and We Nicked the Old Gates for Firewood Anyway)         

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brummell

I think discussion along these lines often ends up mischaracterising the ‘anti’ argument as claiming everything should be preserved unchanged in aspic for Britons to visit now and then.  There must be change, and there must be industrial and domestic development - but it would be better (I think) if the laws of France and Belgium in particular recognised that there is more to the cemeteries and memorials than brick and Portland stone, and that more than just their fabric should be protected. Clearly it is for the people of those countries to decide that, but the idea has to be put to them by someone before they can decide if they agree with it. 

 

 

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Sly

Hello,

 

I think that if you consider the vastness of the area covered by the Western Front and the number of people who live there today the impact of the new developements such as wind turbines or other things is very small. the high density of population in the northern part of it, like in Belgium, required more developments but the largest part of the Western Front is in low populated areas. Let's take an example in the Somme: on a total of 451 WW1 cemetries (including war graves in local cemetries) and memorials located on the Somme, how many of them have been "impacted" by a new development ? I don't know the answer, but I live here and there are not that many...

 

Sly

(map of the Western Front from GreatWar.co.uk)

5b02959db68da_westernfont.jpg.bf216db5dea0a955ccd29c37ed0b686d.jpg

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Beechhill

Has anyone else considered that the wind turbines - aesthetics and ethics put aside - maybe the lesser evil as they to a considerable degree create pockets of free ranges, that won't be encroached by rural, commercial, or industrial development over time? 

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Gareth Davies

Yes!

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Terry_Reeves
On 21/05/2018 at 11:05, Sly said:

Hello,

 

I think that if you consider the vastness of the area covered by the Western Front and the number of people who live there today the impact of the new developements such as wind turbines or other things is very small. the high density of population in the northern part of it, like in Belgium, required more developments but the largest part of the Western Front is in low populated areas. Let's take an example in the Somme: on a total of 451 WW1 cemetries (including war graves in local cemetries) and memorials located on the Somme, how many of them have been "impacted" by a new development ? I don't know the answer, but I live here and there are not that many...

 

Sly

(map of the Western Front from GreatWar.co.uk)

5b02959db68da_westernfont.jpg.bf216db5dea0a955ccd29c37ed0b686d.jpg

Agree with Sly, take a look at the bigger picture.

 

TR

 

 

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horrocks
Posted (edited)

OK, all good points, and taken.

 

I have been to Picardy twice in a fortnight, and spent Tuesday of this week in the St.Quentin-Joncourt-Le Cateau areas on a Wilfred Owen related tour with a friend. Since my first visit to this area wind turbines have been sprouting liberally all over the landscape, and some parts are now pretty heavily saturated with them. In places they possess an undeniable stark beauty, most particularly when the light is falling variably across the countryside, leaving some glowing bright white, others as dark shadows. The aesthetic effect seems to be most positive when they are on rolling, broken countryside, and neither too numerous, nor in straight, uniformly-spaced rows. Too densely sown, or uniform, and they can become as ugly as they can be otherwise rather beautiful, and this is already the case in some places here. Earlier this year I was on the Austrian-Hungarian border, and the far bank of Neusiedlersee is cluttered so densely with them that it looks simply shabby and ugly when viewed from the pretty medieval village of Rust, utterly despoiling the distant skyline.

 

I admit, therefore, to being split on them (in aesthetic rather than practical terms, where the necessity is rather clearer), and this depite my language earlier in this thread. Part of me, the photographer, is actually anticipating their appearance on the Hogsback as an opportunity where little currently exists, as they can render photogenic a landscape that is otherwise too featurless. However, I still, and with conviction, don't think that they should be there, and I strongly suspect that their appearance has not been accompanied by sufficient consultation or research of the ground upon which they are being erected. There are plenty of places for them, and I maintain that the heart of the 1916 Somme battlefield is not amongst them.

 

I would also, as an aside, maintain that the high tension cables and towers that cross the landscape here are very much uglier, and entirely devoid of grace, and that this is so wherever they occur.

 

4rA2YI.jpg

 

Morval, May 2018.

Edited by horrocks

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Gareth Davies

I absolutely agree that HT wires, and their distribution stations, are ugly.  Have you been to Gavrelle recently?  I took the HAC there last year to see the site of 2 of their VC actions. It's the site of a huge electricity sub-station thing (about the size of 4 tennis courts) and there are at least 3 different HT lines and pylons there and it is one of the least attractive pieces of battlefield I have been to.  But I was still able to tell the story of the 2 officers.  I was still able to talk the HAC through the actions.  And they still felt some connection with the events of 100 years ago.

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Beechhill

Saw a drawing in my Facebook feed the other day. It was a straight, tarmac road through the woods. The caption said: the road isn't surrounded by forest, the forest is divided by a road. 

Says it all really. 

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DCLI

I was there on Tuesday and they are pouring masses of concrete at the moment. Looks like there will be two very big ones.

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DCLI
On 29/04/2018 at 15:36, horrocks said:

I think you'll find that there's another one behind the Quadrilateral and on the other side of the road, below the 'Straight Trench' track, and another in the field in front of the Quadrilateral, on the opposite side of the road to your photo. There will be ten in all in this specific development.

 

The problem with any assumption relating to archeological teams is that the relevant authorities (CWGC) haven't been notified of any remains, so I think it could be pretty much assumed that there were no such teams.

 

As an aside, in my wanderings around the Somme, I have seen significant numbers of shells, mills bombs, stokes mortar rounds, bullets and general debris, but have yet to chance upon any human bone fragments. I did stub my toe on a large horse's leg joint a couple of years ago in front of Gueudecourt. The surface soil of all the fields here is regularly destoned prior to the potato and sugar beet crop drilling, I'm quite surprised that anything can still be found. I guess that there is a process akin to osmosis where the debris is continuously drawn or pushed upwards within the soil strata.

 

 

The spoil heaps that I saw in March and showing in the original post seemed almost as if they had been graded.

I picked up a live round at Bazentin Le Petit cemetery on Tuesday. It was just lying on the surface.

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horrocks
1 hour ago, DCLI said:

I picked up a live round at Bazentin Le Petit cemetery on Tuesday. It was just lying on the surface.

 

 Funnily enough, I picked one up just outside the cemetery gate the week before!

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Don Regiano
5 hours ago, horrocks said:

 

 Funnily enough, I picked one up just outside the cemetery gate the week before!

 

At the risk of going further off topic, these were found at the side of the track from Crucifix Corner to the Windmill at Bazentin (sorry about the quality of the hastily taken photo), as well as a couple or three spent rounds.

 

 

DSC05495.JPG

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