>Life And Nothing But

>On our visit to the Somme battlefields last July, we stopped at Lochnagar Crater near La Boiselle. This enormous dent in the Picard landscape was left by British miners detonating a total of 60,000 lbs of Ammonal under the German front line at 7.28 on the 1st july 1916. It was one of the first events of what was to become the bloodiest day in the history of the British army, with almost 60,000 casualties in those first hours.


The crater is now privately owned by an Englishman, Richard Dunning. He managed to purchase the site in 1978, concerned by encroachment of agriculture and attempts to refill the hole. Today, Lochnagar attracts about 300,000 visitors annually. Given the scale of the slaughter in the vicinity – it’s thought that the remains of at least 300 Germans lie in the crater – it’s perhaps not surprising that even such a well-visited site sometimes gives up its dead. In 1998 the remains of Private George Nugent of the Tyneside Scottish were discovered by accident on the western lip of the crater by two British tourists. After exhaustive research leading to his identification, Private Nugent’s name was removed from the Thiepval Memorial to the missing and he was laid properly to rest at Ovillers Military Cemetery near Albert. The inscription on his headstone reads: ‘Lost, found – but never forgotten’.


About teninchwheels

Designer, photographer and Vespa-fixated pub bore. Born in Yorkshire, living in that London these past 20 years. Get in touch at teninchwheels@gmail.com, especially if you'd like to send me some free beer.
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4 Responses to >Life And Nothing But

  1. Affer says:

    >Coincidence: did that one too. Found it quite touching – more so than the nearby Tommy's cafe which was quite ghastly IMO. A few miles away, near Beaucourt if my memory is correct, is another crater which one reaches after a climb along the edge of a field. It now is just a jumble of trees and scrub and presents a different feeling altogether: somehow spookier and more desolate because one cannot see the bottom of it. (I am so damn mad that I lost my camera and all my photos of the trip!)

  2. TIW says:

    >Was that Hawthorn Crater? We didn't manage to get there, but we're already planning to go back. There are some very spooky places round there. We went into Rossignol Wood to look for the wrecked bunker, and we couldn't get out of there quick enough. Very uneasy – and so was Mametz Wood. Just standing by the dragon memorial felt creepy – as if hundreds of pairs of eyes were watching us from the wood itself.We didn't go in the Tommy Café, we suspected it might be a bit like that. We liked the Highlander Bar in Albert though – just a friendly pub with relics the regulars had dug out of the landscape. The lady behind the bar kept dragging out enormous shells to show us. I'm fairly sure they'd been made safe.

  3. Affer says:

    >It was indeed Hawthorn Crater! I didn't get to either Rossignol Wood or Mametz – a blog on them would be good if you could….

  4. TIW says:

    >I'll see what I can do – Mametz really gave me the creeps, and having dug about on t'interweb it seems I'm not the only one.

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