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Amiens Remembers By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

 

 

 

 

Along with relatives of those who fought and died in the final 100 day offensive that led to the ending of the Great War in November 1918, it is pleasing that together with government representatives from France, Germany, Canada, Australia and the USA, HRH Prince William, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, Armed Forces Minister, Mark Lancaster and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter and others will this afternoon attend commemorations marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the start of what would be known as the ‘Battle of Amiens’ at the beautiful Amiens Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Basilica of our Lady of Amiens and by some as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Amiens.

Often referred to as the ‘forgotten battle’ but equally, an offensive that is properly recognised as being the final turning point in the Great War, the Battle of Amiens began on this day, 8th of August 1918. It would later be described as one of the Allied Troops’ most successful and pivotal advances (e.g. Allied troops advanced seven miles on the very first day of the offensive) of the Great War.

The Battle of Amiens included French, British, Australian, Canadian and American troops fighting against the German army. It was a crucial offensive and one that would lead to the Armistice. With so much having been learned from the past four years of war and with the availability of new battlefield technology including up to 500 tanks deployed alongside 1,900 British and French aircraft plus over 2,000 guns from the Royal Artillery, the Battle of Amiens is rightly credited as having been the opening phase of the Allied offensive that led to the end of the entire conflict.

Interestingly, Amiens which is the capital of Picardy is also the original home of French President Emmanuel Macron and is said by some to be the city that made him. Thus I may live in hope that as he plays his own part in the important commemorations at Amiens Cathedral this afternoon he will be reminded of what the Allies did for France in the name of freedom just as they had also for Belgium and so many other nations caught up in the war to end wars. Today, Europe and North America stand together as members of the NATO Alliance, just as I hope they will for generations to come.

So, one hundred years on we remember this hugely important offensive and in doing so we ensure that this was not the forgotten.

SONG OF AMIENS

Lord! How we laughed in Amiens!
For here were lights and good French drink,
And Marie smiled at everyone,
And Madeleine’s new blouse was pink,
And Petite Jeanne (who always runs)
Served us so charmingly, I think
That we forgot the unsleeping guns.

Lord! How we laughed in Amiens!
Till through the talk there flashed the name
Of some great man we left behind.
And then a sudden silence came,
And even Petite Jeanne (who runs)
Stood still to hear, with eyes aflame,
The distant mutter of the guns.

Ah! How we laughed in Amiens!
For there were useless things to buy,
Simply because Irène, who served,
Had happy laughter in her eye

And Yvonne, bringing sticky buns,
Cared nothing that the eastern sky
Was lit with flashes from the guns.

And still we laughed in Amiens,
As dead men laughed a week ago.
What cared we if in Delville Wood
The splintered trees saw hell below?
We cared . . . We cared . . . But laughter runs
The cleanest stream a man may know
To rinse him from the taint of guns.

  1. P. Cameron Wilson (1888—1918)

CHW (London – 8th August 2018)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon

hwheeldon@wheeldonstrategic.com

@AirSeaRescue

 

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