Aerial photo of the French city of Albert, terribly bombed during WW1. Many areas where no buildings remain. Based on the basilica can be dated as pre-March 1918.
Labeled ‘City of Albert – Destroyed by Germans.'
On the left, the basilica of Our Lady of Brebières. People circulating in the streets.
Paper bit warped at vertical edges. Some yellowing around edges.
12.5 x 18 cm // 4 ⅞” x 7”
(Red text is an electronic watermark that is not physically part of the photo for sale)
During World War I, the statue of Mary and the infant Jesus on top of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebières was hit by a shell on 15 January 1915 and slumped to a near-horizontal position, where however it remained until further shelling in 1918 destroyed the tower. The British said that whoever made the statue fall would lose the war, whilst the Germans thought the opposite. A number of legends surrounding the Leaning Virgin developed among German, French, and British soldiers. The Leaning Virgin became an especially familiar image to the thousands of British soldiers who fought at the Battle of the Somme (1916), many of whom passed through Albert, which was situated three miles from the front lines.
The German army recaptured the town in March 1918 during the Spring Offensive; the British, to prevent the Germans from using the church tower as a machine gun post, directed their bombardment against 'imaginary' trenches the other side of the basilica as orders specifically stopped them from targeting buildings in the town; the line of fire took the artillery through the basilica, thus it was destroyed. The statue fell in April 1918 and was never recovered. In August 1918 the Germans were again forced to retreat, and the British reoccupied Albert until the end of the war.
Photo aérienne des ruines de la ville d’Albert (Somme)
Intitulé ‘Ville d'Albert – detruite par les allemands.'
À gauche on voit la basilique de Notre-Dame de Brebières. Dans les rues, des gens qui circulent.
(Texte rouge est un filigrane électronique, qui n’est pas sur le photo en vente)
Albert fut l'enjeu de terribles combats pendant la Première Guerre mondiale.