Snow on the Road: The Western Front
The Western Front, a 400-plus-mile stretch of land weaving through France and Belgium from the Swiss border to the North Sea, was the decisive front during World War One. Despite the global nature of the conflict, much of the world remembers the scars of the Great War through the lens of these battles. Images of decimated trees, deep set trenches and sliding mud have endured in public consciousness, particularly due to their prevalence in literary and film depictions of the war.
The horrors that were endured there are almost unimaginable today. The Western Front simmered incessantly with low-level violence, producing daily causalities that were compounded by ‘wastage’ losses due to disease or the environment. Rats were everywhere, spreading disease and feeding on food scraps or the remains of men. Bodies of dead soldiers that could be retrieved would be buried in or near the trenches – often, they were left where they were.
In the run up to the close of the World War One centenary, Dan Snow travels to France and Belgium to visit some of the key battles of this harrowing conflict; from the tunnels of the Vimy Ridge, to the moving memorials at Newfoundland Park and the sweeping expanses of the Ypres salient.Duration: 69 Min