BAZENTIN RIDGE: SOMME (Battleground Europe) by Edward Hancock

By Edward Hancock

The publication covers intimately the assaults of 14-18 July 1916 opposed to the Bazentin Woods and villages and past. Walks and excursions of the environment parts are integrated with certain motion maps.

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Oh! take me to my kind old mother, There let me live and die… This sorry performance met with desultory applause, whereupon everyone quickly rose from the table. Dinner was over. ‘Tubby’ Eastwood and Dr Hanschell returned to the barn in which they had been billeted, while the rest of the expedition slept on the train. Only Spicer stayed in the hotel. The following morning, most of the expedition moved on to Fungurume a hundred miles up the line. Their destination was now common knowledge, writes Magee, describing their send-off: The members of the expedition were feted by the Belgian populace, who, however, were not a bit optimistic about the outcome of our efforts to reach the lake.

In 1915 that story formed part of a wider picture, at the centre of which was Livingstone’s (then outspoken) opposition to slavery. ’ As Dr Hanschell and the Tanganyika party crossed over from Zambia into Congo, they were passing through an area that had been central to the supply of the slave system. It had only really stopped within the last 30 years, in spite of legislation and the hunting down of traffickers. Long after slavery had been outlawed internationally, it continued locally as an agricultural and domestic arrangement.

And so the precarious descent continued, hindered considerably by the constant search for water for the engines’ boilers. They tracked down only slimy pools here and there, until one day the inevitable happened. The engines ran out, but before the expedition’s drinking water was plundered once more they discovered that more than 400 people—including porters, road-builders, camp servants and the naval volunteers themselves—had a mere ten gallons left to share. There was nothing left for the oxen, who had begun to paw the dust in frustration.

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