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Thread: Europe's famous battlefields

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    Elite Member Honey's Avatar
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    Default Europe's famous battlefields


    Battlescapes, published by Osprey (www.ospreypublishing.com), features more than 200 stunning images that capture Europe's most important battlefields as the look today. Here, we present a selection of photographs from the book and information on how to visit the sites.

    Hastings (October 14, 1066)

    A decisive Norman victory during William I's conquest of England, Hastings represented a major turning point in English history and remains the last time Britain was successfully invaded. The defeat to William's forces would also have a profound influence of the country's language, adding thousands of words to our vocabulary.
    This image is of Senlac Hill, where the English shield wall lined up to face the Norman advance on the morning of October 14, 1066. Battle Abbey was constructed on the site following the battle, and the hill forms part of its park.


    Agincourt (October 25, 1415)

    Around 32,000 visitors - mostly British - arrive at Agincourt each year to inspect the field where 5,900 English longbowman and knights, led by Henry V, defeated a French army believed to be four times its size.
    This photograph is a view of the battlefield from the English perspective. The French line was situated in line with the house with the red roof on the right-hand side. The English advanced to this position at around 11am on the morning of October 25 and opened fire on the French, provoking them into a rash charge that set the scene for the rest of the day.


    Vienna (September 12, 1683)
    Following a two-month siege of the city by the Ottoman Empire, the Battle of Vienna - fought on the Austrian capital's Kahlenberg mountain - marked the start of the Hapsburg's political stranglehold over Central Europe and represented the beginning of the end of the powerful Ottoman Empire.
    This image shows the southern slope of the Kahlenberg looking towards the city centre of Vienna. This may well have been where the Ottoman first position was situated on September 12, 1683. Polish winged hussars poured down this slope to break the Ottoman lines and seal the victory for the Holy Roman Empire. It was the largest known cavalry charge in the history of warfare.


    Austerlitz (December 2, 1805)

    Fought near the modern Czech town of Slavkov u Brna, Austerlitz was one of Napoleon Bonaparte's defining victories. His defeat of a Russo-Austrian army, led by Tsar Alexander I, led to the end of the Holy Roman Empire and is regarded as a tactical masterpiece.
    This photograph is of Zuran Hill, the site of Napoleon's headquarters and the Imperial Guard at the beginning of the battle before he moved forwards onto the Pratzen Heights. It was from here that the major attack on the Allied centre was launched. The trees on the top of the hill are part of a memorial built in 1930


    Waterloo (June 18, 1815)

    Fought between Napoleon Bonaparte and the Seventh Coalition - led by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian field marshal Gebhard von Blucher - Waterloo changed the face of modern Europe. Defeat for the French led to Napoleon's surrender and exile and ushered in nearly 50 years of peace on the continent.
    This image shows the Butte de Lion (Lion's Mound), erected between 1824 and 1826 on the spot where the Prince of Orange was wounded in the shoulder by a musket ball. The mound stands 40m (130ft) above the battlefield and the lion on top looks towards France.


    Ypres (1914-18)

    The major battles took place around the Flemish town of Ypres during World War I. The first began on October 20, 1914 following the German withdrawal after the battle of the Marne, the second took place in the spring of 1915 and was notable as the first occasion that poison gas was used offensively on the Western Front. The third, and largest, battle began in the summer of 1917. It lasted for more than three months in terrible conditions, resulting in around 250,000 deaths on each side.
    This peaceful pond is actually a mine crater filled with water. The battle of Messines Ridge, on June 7, 1917, formed a prelude to the Third Ypres battle and one of its features was the use of 19 huge mines that destroyed the German front-line position. Many of the craters left by those mines are still visible.


    This photograph is of the Canadian Memorial at St Julien. The monument commemorates the 18,000 Canadian soldiers who withstood the first German gas attack during the Second Ypres battle. 2,000 of them were killed.


    The Somme (July 1 - November 13, 1916)

    Synonymous with the futility of trench warfare during World War I, The Battle of the Somme saw vast numbers of young volunteers sacrificed for very little strategic gain. 19,240 Britons were killed on the first day of fighting, while a further 35,493 were wounded. By the time the battle ended, more than a million lives had been lost on all sides.
    This image shows the area of the Somme front near La Boiselle. It was this battlefield that the British has to cross on July 1. The Lochnagar Mine was exploded prior to an attack by the 34th Division that saw the Tyneside Scottish take over 2,400 casualties. The valley in the middle of the photo was known as Sausage Valley at the time.


    Verdun (February-December 1916)

    Verdun was for the French and Germans what the Somme was for the British, a historical representation of the horrors of war. In a battle that lasted the best part of a year around 377,000 French soldiers and 357,000 German were killed for minimal strategic gains.
    The soil around Verdun was pulverized with 20 million shells and large areas of the battlefield have been left uncultivated in what are known as red zones, or Zones Rouges. This particular image was taken near Fort Souville, which proved to be the high-water mark for the German advance.


    This picture shows a turret at Fort Douaumont, one of Verdun's major fortifications that fell to an assault party of German pioneers on February 25, 1916. By this time, the fort had already been stripped of its guns to reinforce other sectors of the front.


    The Dolomites (1915-18)

    Italy joined the Allied side on May 24, 1915, declaring war on neighbouring Austria-Hungary in the process. The nature of border between the two countries - consisting of the Dolomites, the Carnic and the Julian Alps - meant that the two sides found themselves fighting a form of trench warfare thousands of metres above sea level in an unforgiving environment.
    This photograph shows an Austrian observation post on the Hexenstein (Sasso di Stria). The Hexenstein is located at the intersection of the passes of Falzarego and Valparola, and was therefore a position of strategic importance when it came to controlling access to the valleys, as well as for observation


    Normandy (June 6, 1944)

    Four years on from the Dunkirk evacuation, an armada of British, American and Canadian forces returned to north-west Europe, arriving at Sword, Juno, Gold, Utah and Omaha landing beaches.
    This picture is of Utah Beach, shown near the location of the Utah Beach Museum. In contrast to the experience of Omaha Beach, the landings of the US 4th Division on Utah Beach went smoothly, with the division losing 200 men on D-Day itself.



    Battlescapes: Europe's famous battlefields - Telegraph

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    I find battlefield tourism disturbing, to say the least.
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    Gold Member HockeyRules's Avatar
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    I don't think I'd want to be a tourist to the battlefields, but I would like to see the photos of the places where they took place. I'm not really sure what my fascination is, but maybe how a place that looks so peaceful now, was one of terror and how those who were there should be remembered.

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    Elite Member Shelly's Avatar
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    All the pics look wonderful and peaceful... I think it can be interesting if you're into history or perhaps had family in a war and then see that location. I'm sure you'll "see" it differently when you know there's been a battle there, if you didn't you'd just say it was pretty.
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    Its amazing seeing them in a completely different light.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    What's next?-a how they are now view of the death camps of the Nazis?

    I will pass on these. It is very sad. These are graveyards really, where millions died horrible deaths-and mostly for nothing. Very sad.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i don't think there's anything wrong with visiting battlefields. especially for history buffs. i wouldn't go out of my way to go see one but i have visited kahlenberg, waterloo, ypres, omaha beach... each time because i was already in the region.
    and soj, you can visit concentration camps in europe. a lot of them have been turned into museums/memorials.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    i don't think there's anything wrong with visiting battlefields. especially for history buffs. i wouldn't go out of my way to go see one but i have visited kahlenberg, waterloo, ypres, omaha beach... each time because i was already in the region.
    and soj, you can visit concentration camps in europe. a lot of them have been turned into museums/memorials.
    I can see it through the prism of history, but not as 'tourist attractions' and all. And I am aware of the concentration camps, but I just would not want to see stunningly beautiful pictures of wheatfields and meadows where hundreds of thousands were slaughtered. I would want to see something like Birkenau, with the crematorium and giant mass of hair, glasses, etc. to show what really happened.

    There is just something..creepy..about these pretty pretty pictures of places where horrific things happened. Why not show the same place on a shrouded, cold, rainy windy day? Something about it just ...bugs...
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    i get what you're saying. but to me it just shows the passage of time. some of the more recent battlefields like the beaches in normandy and waterloo have markers and plaques (or big monuments in the case of waterloo) but considering that most of these took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago, it's normal that there wouldn't be much left. plus, a lot of these were battles in the middle of nowhere to begin with. and they're important because of what they represented symbolically and historically.
    or maybe i'm just morbid to begin with because i actually think it's kind of fascinating that these beatiful fields/forests were once the site of massive bloodbaths. it kind of shows the insignificance of human life in the grand scheme of things - yes, thousands once died here but time and nature took over and now there isn't anything left of that.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    i get what you're saying. but to me it just shows the passage of time. some of the more recent battlefields like the beaches in normandy and waterloo have markers and plaques (or big monuments in the case of waterloo) but considering that most of these took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago, it's normal that there wouldn't be much left. plus, a lot of these were battles in the middle of nowhere to begin with. and they're important because of what they represented symbolically and historically.
    or maybe i'm just morbid to begin with because i actually think it's kind of fascinating that these beatiful fields/forests were once the site of massive bloodbaths. it kind of shows the insignificance of human life in the grand scheme of things - yes, thousands once died here but time and nature took over and now there isn't anything left of that.
    See..I agree with that bolded part. And that is probably what bothers me and makes me sad. Just like overgrown, untended, neglected old cemetaries, with the stones damaged and weeds growing rampant. It makes me sad for the human race, rather than fascinated. But I understand what you are saying. I just get something different from it.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^
    lol i absolutely love neglected old cemeteries, the more damaged the better. and it makes me sad too. but a good kind of sad, if that makes any sense.
    like how listening to certain music will make me sad but sometimes it's what i'm in the mood for and i actually feel better after listening to it.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    If each one of them just had at least one well tended memorial, just something..to indicate what happened there, then it would be different.

    I remember seeing in some nation..where a massacre of children had happened in a field of flowers, they had constructed a giant flower as a memorial. It stood over this field of flowers, this huge open flower, as a memorial. I think things like that are beautiful.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    lol i'm the opposite. i kind of prefer that there not be anything there. some memorials are nice, especially if they incorporate stuff left over from the actual battle, but if there is nothing left, then i'd rather they just leave the place as it is and not add anything.
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    I remember clambering all over the canons at Gettysburg when I was a kid. My dad was history buff and always took us to places like that. I went to Gettysburg at least five times as a kid. I like any kind of historical site. I am my father's daughter in that respect.
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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    I've seen a few of the old WW1 and WW2 battlefields.

    I wish I could remember where I saw this, but it was so long ago I can't. There was grafitti of a man's name, and the year 1917, then below it the same name and 1944 with the words " I don't want to have to write my name here again'......that's always stayed with me.
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