Weʼre raising £5,000 to The Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association is an organistion to help support and develop the most intensive study of any Great War battlefield
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On behalf of the Hawthorn Ridge Crater Association (HRCA) we would very much like to thank you for your interest in our project and hope that you decide to become a part of our association.
We believe Hawthorn Ridge to be one of the most historic and unique sites across the entire Western Front. Firstly, The explosion of the mine under Hawthorn Ridge was the very first action of The Battle of the Somme. It was recorded by Geoffrey Malins at 7.20am on the 1st July 1916 and is one of the best-known pieces of film of the Great War. (We have adopted Mailns image of the explosion as our association logo) The mine was blown for a second time on the 13th November when the 51st Highland Division captured the ridge and village of Beaumont Hamel.
WHO ARE WE?
The HRCA was formed early in 2018 by a handful of enthusiastic volunteers, Great War historians and archaeologists. The Association is a Franco-British collaboration based in France and founded on the French law of an association 1901. After much negotiation, the association has secured a lease of the site from the owners and the local council for a term of 99 years, thus safeguarding its future.
The objectives of the HRCA are simple.
1. IMPROVE ACCESS TO SITE AND SAFETY FOR VISITORS
For over 100 years, the craters unlike other areas of The Somme have been largely untouched. Every year, 1000’s of visitors stop at Sunken Lane as part of their battlefield tours and connect with the story of the Lancashire Fusiliers sitting in the lane before going “over the top” but sadly very few ascend Hawthorn Ridge itself and visit the craters.
One of the main reasons for this is that the craters have been very difficult to access, the steps and path being in extremely poor condition and unsafe to ascend. When you finally get there, the craters were completely overgrown and neglected, and therefore unable to see anything or safely walk around the edge.
However, with the approval in place of the French Authorities and surrounding landowners, the first phase of clearing undergrowth started in January 2018, and is ongoing. The next step was to widen and improve the path to the craters from the main road, fence the leased area, and provide safer access to the crater’s edge itself whilst preserving the site and surrounding farmland. There is still much to do and our work continues.
2. EDUCATION AND TELLING THE STORY
In short we want to tell the story...........
The project is initially looking at the period between 1st July 1916 until the end of the battle after the second mine blast, from both sides of No Man’s Land. Thus also giving a German perspective to our understanding. It will extend to look at the period before the arrival of the British to the area in July 1915, when the sector was held by the French army. To conclude with a study after The Battle of the Somme, until the armistice, and post war recovery and reoccupation by the civilian population.
Along with our own experts who have joined the association, we are delighted to be supported by Keele and Staffordshire Universities in the U.K who are conducting a comprehensive study of the site. The first non invasive studies were conducted earlier this year, and we have already learnt so much about the site ranging from the blast footprint and pattern to the changes in geology. Through specialist 3D scanning and archaeology we have also identified key areas in and around the craters such as trenches and dugouts. We are at the very beginning of the story and the university will be on site in mid August to continue their studies.
3. THE FUTURE
The HRCA is is committed to keeping the area looking as natural and indigenous as possible. Whilst we envisage a small number of educational boards around the site, We also understand that the craters are the final resting place for the fallen and every due respect will afforded to them. This site will not become littered with memorials.
4. FUNDING -
Taking on a project such as this is expensive. Improvements must continue, the site needs ongoing maintenance and we need to learn more. In short, we are totally reliant on membership fees, donations and good will. Until now, the few founding members have personally funded this project and many volunteers have physically helped at site but as you can imagine, we cannot do this entirely alone. So this is how you can help.
Any donations wouold be gratefully received. ALL monies raised will go back directly into the project.
if you wish to Join the association, please donate a minimum of £10 and send your contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you on the mailing list.
Once again, thank you for your interest, and please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.
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