Asiago June 15th 1918, revisited

Armed with maps, war diary entries and as much material as we could carry, I set off with Rocco to find Harry's location on the day of the Austrian attack, 15th June 1918.

Unlike Flanders, where much of the topography has been disturbed and modified, the plateau has changed little.

It was quite possible to find out exactly where the 9th Battalion, York & Lancasters were on that day.

The trenches were there, clearly evident, in lines about 50 metres apart, with the front line sited a few metres inside a wood.

The sketch map from the 11th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (p144 of the book) on the Y & L's right flank, made the job easy, especially as the boundaries of the woodland have changed little in the last 90 years. There was a track through the woods which was the boundary between the two front line Battalions. That is still there and so it was easy to find the very trenches that Harry and his comrades would have occupied. It was exciting and emotional to look out over the ground over which Harry would have seen the Austrian advance.

I have a load of pictures from the day. Click this link to view. The account of the day from War Diary can be found at this link. Harry's letter about that day can be found here.

6 comments: said...

I knew you'd feel Harry's presence, as you traveled the ground he trod 90 years ago. I'm sure his angel is on your shoulder, as you travel his path back through time. Thanks for taking us on your journey.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, just amazing. It's hard to say what gets to me more: the shell holes that are still so obvious, even after ninety years and another major war, or how peaceful the scene looks now.

I imagine that in June 1918, the trees were either shot up or chopped down; instead of that verdant grass the fields were nothing but mud, rocks and barbed wire; and the misty haze was thick choking smoke from the guns. Instead of a serene quiet green, everything was sharp, harsh and filled with constant noise. It's no wonder many of Harry's comrades were invalided with 'shell shock'!

Janell said...

Thank you for all the wonderful pictures from your trip to the trenches on the Asiago Plain. They are the next best thing to being there. Though the beauty of the area is breathtaking and many of the scars have healed, for those who look, evidence of the War is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the photos; what a brutal place to have a war.
I cannot imagine that the stone-lined trenches would not have been more deadly than earthen equivalents; many more chances for ricochets of bullets and shell fragments, as well as pieces of stone.
Brave men!
-T.F. Maher, St. Louis, MO

Anonymous said...

It is quite amazing that you were able to see the original trenches. It's too bad you weren't able to make this trip before publishing your book, and include some of your great pictures in it.


Roger 'Keeffe said...

Just wait for the second edition ;-)

Bill has sent me a draft chapter of the school text that he is working on. It's a worthy companion to the blog and to "the book of the blog": in plain language, I think it's bloody brilliant!. But so far no publisher is biting, which I think is a crying shame.

I'm more than willing to write a personal reaction to the draft textbook, but I'm not all that sure that my endorsement from a neutral European perspective is worth much in the UK (cf. the less-than-entirely detailed reference to "The French" on the Sherwood Foresters' map!).

Is there nobody out there with lines of communication to the UK school textbook industry that can convince a publisher about the phenomenally inspiring nature of all that Bill has brought forth from a box of letters that could just as easily have been thrown in a skip and lost forever?

This textbook is crying out for a good publisher.

Has anyone got contacts in Euroclio, the European association of history teachers? Anybody been involved in a Comenius project on history? An endoresment from someone from that sort of background would surely carry much more weight than anything that I could write as a "faceless unelected Eurocrat".