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The village of Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée sits on a small rise in the Pas de Calais Department in northern France. One hundred years ago it was overtaken by the First World War. The fighting there was intense – eleven Victoria Crosses were won in this tiny locality between 1914 and 1918. Phil Tomaselli’s in-depth account shows what happened at Givenchy when it became a battlefield, and the story here was repeated in the other villages and towns on the Western Front.
Givenchy’s key position made it the target for crushing bombardments, infantry assaults and subterranean warfare. The landscape was pulverized by shellfire, the ground beneath was honeycombed with tunnels. Mining operations, shelling, sniping and trench raids took place around the remains of the village even when this stretch of the front line was relatively quiet. The gruelling struggle of attrition that characterized the fighting on the Western Front continued here throughout the war.
Phil Tomaselli’s gripping narrative makes extensive use of war diary extracts, personal stories, official and unofficial histories.
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