British supply tanks passing a group of infantry on the way to action between Amiens and Bonchoir (Photo © IWM Q 56443)

Battle of Amiens Centenary - Ballot opens for August commemorations

Posted on on 10 March 2018
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A UK ticket ballot opens today (March 9) for commemorations marking the centenary of the Battle Amiens, and the start of the Allied offensive ending the First World War in 1918.

Six hundred tickets are available for descendants, and those with an 'emotional connection', wishing to attend a remembrance service at Amiens Cathedral on August 8, the British Government has announced.

The event is being held in partnership with France, Australia, Canada and the United States, who’re arranging their own seat allocations.

"The Battle of Amiens marked a turning point in the First World War and this anniversary gives us a chance to reflect on how the war in Europe moved from entrenched conflict to the signing of the Armistice in 1918," said Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, the minister responsible for Britain's national Centenary commemorations.

"We have a duty to tell the stories of those who lived and fought in the First World War and to keep their memories alive. I encourage all those with a connection to the Battle of Amiens or the war on the Western Front during the summer of 1918 to apply for tickets to the commemorations this summer."

Lieutenant J.B. McDowell, British official cameraman, filming the city of Amiens and its cathedral in April 1918 (Photo © IWM  Q 11584)

The Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918 marked the start of the Hundred Days Offensive, a series of battles that culminated in Germany seeking an armistice in November.

Allied troops advanced more than seven miles on the first day, with notable successes for the Canadians and Australians.

In one of the best known comments on the Great War, the German commander General Erich Ludendorff described it ‘The Black Day of the German Army'.

Captain Edwin Francis Trundle of the Australian Imperial Force, one of three brothers who fought in the Great War and survived,  wrote to his wife Louisa: "During the last few days we have advanced over twelve miles … up to the present everything has gone excellently and everyone is in high spirits… I followed the attacking infantry with a team of thirty-six pack mules carrying ammunition forward … Ever since then we have kept continually moving forward until now we are over twelve miles ahead of our starting position."

German troops, who’d threatened to overrun the Allies with their own spring offensive in 1918, fought back hard in the final months of WW1, but never again did they regain the initiative.

Historian and broadcaster Dan Snow says: "Amiens might not be the most famous battle of the First World War, but it might be the most important.

"In the summer of 1918 at Amiens British, French, Commonwealth and American troops decisively defeated the mighty German Army by using a combination of new tactics and weapons that finally broke the stalemate of the trenches. This was the beginning of the end of the First World War and the beginning of modern warfare.

"It is one of the most remarkable battles in British history. On the Centenary we have a unique chance to commemorate it and place it where it belongs, at the heart of our national story."

The ticket ballot for the centenary commemorative service at Amiens Cathedral closes at noon on 9 April 2018. It is open to descendants, and 'those with an emotional connection' to the Battle of Amiens or the war on the Western Front during the summer of 1918. To apply for tickets, visit Amiens100. Descendants are also encouraged to share stories of their family links with the Battle of Amiens, or the Hundred Days Offensive.

The British Government's four-year programme of First World War centenary events will culminate on 11 November 2018 with a series of Armistice Day events across the UK. 

To research and remember family members who fought in WW1, visit Imperial War Museums’ digital memorial, Lives of the First World War.

Source: UK Government (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport)

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museums, © IWM Q 56443 (Tank); © IWM Q 11584 (Amiens Cathedral)

Posted by: CN Editorial Team