Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source6
Aerial photographs of a raid in the Cherisy area, 1917
(Catalogue ref: MUN 5/302)
  • These aerial photos were taken over the Cherisy area in September 1917.
  • In April 1917, German forces held this area. However, British and Canadian forces led by General Sir Douglas Haig began a major advance across the whole area. Cherissy was taken and then taken back by the Germans about 3-4 times between April and June.
  • The area was valuable because it was high ground. This meant it gave a good view and good firing positions. It also meant that trenches in this area would be drier than trenches in lower ground.
  • This sequence of pictures shows a raid from positions in Cherisy on German forces. The first photo shows the initial bombardment of German positions to destroy wire and machine gun posts. The second photo shows the barrage ending and damage done. The final two photos show the British troops advancing and prisoners taken.
  • Raids were used to find out information, capture or kill enemy soldiers and disrupt enemy preparations and plans. Raids into enemy trenches were incredibly violent and usually involved vicious hand-to-hand fighting. The bayonet was a key weapon, but many soldiers improvised with weapons like clubs.
  • Today we sometimes struggle to understand how men were able to endure the conditions and the fear of going on raids. One key explanation is the importance of being part of a team. During the war, units formed strong friendships and most soldiers knew that survival depended on mates looking after each other. The British Army was deliberately organised into small units (platoons), which helped to build up this loyalty.
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