The village of Givenchy-les-la-Bassee 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.
GIVENCHY IN THE GREAT WARA Village on the Front Line 1914-1918
During the Great War War Givenchy was completely destroyed, as this was the only part of the entire front that withheld the force of the German offensive in the spring of 1918. For much of the war, the village was an area of fierce underground warfare.