CUINCHY: "THE BRICKSTACKS"

This is a recent photograph of the battlefield known during the Great War as the "Brickstacks", a notorious area which in 1916 was well known to Edmund Blunden and the 11th Royal Sussex with whom he was serving at the time (and in 1915 to Robert Graves then serving with the Royal Welch Fusiliers). The site of a former brickworks, the sector which was mostly held by the Germans was marked by numerous solid and sturdy stacks of bricks varying in height up to around 18 feet with each of the stacks covering an area of about 35 square feet. The gaps between the structures were continually under enemy observation and British troops were ordered to run between the safe points of shelter.

The British front line at the time that Blunden was in the sector is today marked by the fence on the left-hand side of the picture. It was just 25 yards in front of this position that the Germans exploded a mine on the 4th June 1916 killing 6 men of the 11th Royal Sussex (including two brothers) and wounding 37 others. In retaliation the British exploded a mine under the German lines later the same day. Blunden called the sector " a vile place".

Copyright www.1914-18.co.uk, 2002. All rights Reserved