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On 31 August 1914 the Germans swept their way into Amiens, and continued on toward Paris. However, following their defeat on the Marne, the Kaiser`s men withdrew and the following month the French Army, under General Amade, returned. Although the city was periodically bombed during the years that followed, it was not until the German offensive of 1918 that Amiens came under major attack.
From April to June an almost constant artillery bombardment caused most of the civilian population to flee. Despite the intense shelling and a massive assault, the Germans did not reach Amiens. They were stopped at Villers-Bretonneux, a village 16 kilometres east of the city where the Australian National War Cemetery now stands. On 17 November 1918 a Thanksgiving service was held in the Cathedral to celebrate the end of the war. A CWGC plaque inside the building to honour those who fell defending the city was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1923. Above left: The ruins of Amiens, 18 May 1918. On 23 April 1918 the Germans were only nine miles from Amiens. The civilians were evacuated on 9 April and the city was bombarded daily. The shot on the right was taken just 2 days later (to edit)*
The above gallery features photos taken in the city during the Great War while the one below is of images of troops, mainly during the the Battle of Amiens.
Amiens Cathedral, also known as `the Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens` (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens), stands in the city, which is the administrative capital of the Picardy region, on a low ridge overlooking the River Somme.
The structure, which was built between 1220 and c.1270, is the tallest complete cathedral in France with a stone-vaulted nave that reaches a height of 42.30 metres (138.8 ft). It also has the greatest interior volume of any French cathedral.
These shots show the piles of sandbags placed to protect the cathedral, inside and out, from German artillery fire. A close up of the main entrance is shown below.
Ruins in Amiens looking up a side street to the South Transept Door of the Cathedral, the carvings on which are sandbagged, 11 June 1918. (to edit)*
Amiens Cathedral is justly famous for the vast amount of early 13th century Gothic sculpture which adorns the main west facade and the south transept portal. The cathedral was built as a suitable resting place for a forehead and jawbone reputed to be that of John the Baptist, the relic having been obtained by Wallon de Sarton in Constantinople on his way back from the Fourth Crusade.
Numerous statues of kings, saints, gargoyles and other figures decorate the cathedral`s exterior. In the 1990s, during a project to laser clean the west facade, it was discovered that the sculptures and stonework were originally painted in multiple colours.
Analysis of the surviving pigments allowed experts to recreate the medieval colours by projecting light onto the building and this display, set to music, occurs on certain days throughout the year.
Left: This relief at the western entrance appears somewhat out of place beside the numerous sculptures of kings and religious figures. It apparently relates to a passage from the Old Testament which lists a hedgehog among the beasts that ransacked the ruined ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, of Upper Mesopotamia, located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq.
Please bear in mind that all images on this website are Copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark. The black & white photographs from the Imperial War Museum`s collection have been used courtesy of its `Share & Reuse` policy and are also subject to copyright restrictions.