WHAT IS THE BUTTE?
Originating back to Roman times, the Butte (French for ‘hill’) is a mound some sixty feet high standing close to the D929 Albert-Bapaume road. In WW1, it was held by the Germans at the end of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and in a fashion, marked the final line of the British advance on the Somme. According to the British WW1 War historian, the Butte was "a chalk mound some sixty feet high, on the slope of a spur overlooking the Bapaume road. The Butte afforded excellent observation of the low ground to the south west and also in the opposite direction towards Bapaume in which area were many battery positions; its importance was fully appreciated by both British and Germans."
However Charles Carrington in ‘Soldiers from War Returning’ exclaimed perhaps more accurately:
".. the Butte of Warlencourt terrified us. A dome of gleaming white chalk from which all the vegetation had been blown away by shell-fire, it was the most conspicuous object in the landscape by daylight or moonlight. The Butte seemed to tower over you and threaten you. We did three tours in this sector in November and December, the worst in my experience"
As you can see above, this history page has been enhanced to give fuller details of the fighting and related which has taken place at this very special site and area not only in the First World War but also before that, back for example to the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870's. These pages will now be furnished on an ongoing basis.
Regarding WW1, details of the attack by the 50th Division on the Butte on 5 November 1916 as narrated by Roland Bradford are now available in the Post 1914 section. There is also an article regarding the exploits of the South African Brigade's action in the autumn of 1916 as is an article about the day the Butte caught fire after a raid by the British late January 1917. We said the Butte had a story to tell, it has now began this exercise.
We sincerely thank Butte associate Blanche Crossan for giving Bob lots of background material regarding the area pre the First World War. Bob will go through it and publish some good stuff hopefully in the pre 1914 section soon.
The lovely drawing of the Butte to the right by Adrian Hill dates to 1917 courtesy of IWM Art4238.