Travels on the Somme Part Nineteen – Amiens Cathedral

048

Amiens.  The River Somme flows peacefully through the city on its way to the sea.

047

And over there’s the cathedral.  Honest!

254

Amiens Cathedral, or, if you prefer, la Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens, towers above one of the many small canals and waterways that wind their way through the city.

259

Amiens itself, the capital of Picardy, was very briefly occupied by the Germans in 1914, before becoming, for the rest of the war, a vital rail and road communications hub for British operations on the Somme front.  Its position, some way behind the lines for the much of the war, encouraged the population to remain in situ and the city became a bustling recreation centre for soldiers of all nationalities on leave from the front.

367

Although the occasional German bomber had risked the trip across British-held territory to release its bomb load over the city, it was not until 1918 that Amiens suffered more serious damage, over two thousand houses falling victim to German artillery as the tide of war drew ever nearer.  The cathedral, built of sterner stuff, was hit, but suffered little damage.

260

The Family Baldrick.

363

360

Impressive.

268

And inside, equally so.  This is the view that thousands upon thousands of visiting Allied soldiers would have encountered as they entered the cathedral.

269

During the Second World War (and perhaps the First too?) sandbags were piled around the pillars inside the church, and you can still see the height to which they were stacked.

263

A number of information boards adorn some of the pillars, all of which I have very kindly photographed for you.

270

What happened to Rheims Cathedral thankfully did not occur here.

271

272

273

274

275

276

If anyone can explain…?  Update: Chris has – if you’re interested, see the comments section at the end of the post.

279

278

Memorial tablet to the men of the 6th Regiment, United States Engineers, who died defending Amiens in March 1918.

280

284

Memorial tablet to Raymond Asquith, son of British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.  Three months after his son’s death, he would be replaced at Number Ten by Lloyd George.

282

Memorial tablet to French colonial troops who died on the Somme.

286

Tablet to the memory of General Marie-Eugène Debeney, commander of the French 1st Army at the Battle of Amiens in the summer of 1918 when the German advance was halted and finally turned, and the man given the honour to officially receive the German Ambassador as the Armistice went into effect on 11th November.

304

294

War Memorial and Rolls of Honour to the men of the Parish of Notre-Dame who died for France during the Great War.

297

298

300

288

290

293

302

303

305

Much older stuff (above & below).

306

311

The little Chapelle Saint-Jacques-le-Majeur,…

310

…with its wonderful stained glass windows,…

329

…plays host to the flags of nations linked to Amiens through war.

316

The tablets (close-ups below) explain.

317

318

325

320

319

323

The famous Weeping Angel.

330

333

More tablets (see below for close-ups).

336

Tablet to the memory of the 600,000 men of the armies of Great Britain & Ireland who died on the Western Front in the Great War.

341

337

Tablet in memory of the men of the Royal Canadian Dragoons who gave their lives during the Great War.

342

339

Memorial tablets commemorating the men of the A.I.F. who died in the defence of Amiens between March and August 1918…

344

WWI_memorial_tablet_to_New_Zealand_forces_in_Amiens_Cathedral

…and the men of the New Zealand Division who fell on the Somme in 1916, and in the defence of Amiens in 1918.

347

345

Tablet in memory of Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, defender and liberator of the City of Amiens.

354

Strange creatures.

349

350

Note the sandbag lines one third of the way up the pillars.

357

364

1243

1244

Magnificent gargoyles.

1252

1246

Time, I think, to head for a bar,…

014

…a quiet drink on the banks of the Somme…

015

…turning into an evening of new friends…

031

…and quiet reflection.

035

Until later, much later,…

038

…the city finally sleeps.

Me, I’m making a return visit to France next Tuesday.  Without Baldrick, who hates me.  Based in Arras this time, I shall be following the Queen’s and East Surreys on their journey across the Somme one hundred years ago.  And in due course I shall do my best to take you along too.

This entry was posted in Amiens, The Somme. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Travels on the Somme Part Nineteen – Amiens Cathedral

  1. Chris from Belgium says:

    Under one of the photos you (with the tablets with “RECONNAISSANCE à N. D. de Foy” (and a date), you write “If anyone can explain…?”
    I will, LOL!
    These tablets were gifts from people who had gotten a favor or recovered from an illness and wanted to thank the Holy Mary of Foy (Notre Dame de Foy; N. D. de Foy) for that.
    A common practice in churches over here before the 20th century.

  2. Chris from Belgium says:

    The “strange creature” is the grave of Bishop Évrard de Fouilloy (Bishop from 1211 until 1222). The “gisant” (portrait) on the grave is carried by lions and at at his feet you see two beasts, representing Evil.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thanks again Chris. I honestly wasn’t being disrespectful to the Bishop – I was only referring to the beasts and lions as strange creatures, not the Bishop himself! Lol!

  3. Andrew Brennan says:

    Another great installment – keep ’em coming!

  4. Sid from Down Under says:

    Who’s into taking selfies – or is your right arm outstretched to hide a “Chateau du Carton” local red …… or perhaps a bottle of Romanee-Conti

  5. Baldrick says:

    Bon Voyage!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *