For enthusiasts,researchers and modellers of the Great Eastern Railway

RG047: GER Guide to the Battlefields of Belgium and France, c.1920.

NEW JULY 2021.  This is a little-known 80-page gem of a booklet, produced by the GER solely for the American market. Copies are scarce, and the one scanned had to be purchased from the USA - the original owner wrote his name and address inside the front cover, revealing that this one had started its life in Baltimore.

The GER is rarely given credit for the efforts it made to encourage people to use its ships. One of its proud claims is that it was the first to open up the Belgian and Luxemburg Ardennes to British travellers, and File RG042 is the guide it issued back in 1890 to achieve that. This is another initiative of theirs to help to swell passenger numbers.

It may be felt that the crossing from Dover would be better placed for a visit to the battlefields, but the GER was clearly not put off. They offered a new overnight service from Harwich to Zeebrugge: "The Roulers, formerly the Vienna, is one of the specially built and luxuriously fitted boats transferred from the Hook of Holland route."

In London, the GER say Liverpool Street "is linked up with the West End and every part of London by the Underground Railways, and by a constant service of omnibuses from all parts. For convenience in this respect, Liverpool Street is unique among all European termini." Quite a remarkable claim!

Having come all this way, it is suggested that the visitor ought to first spend at least a weekend exploring some of East Anglia. Twenty pages are devoted to suggestions, describing holiday resorts and cathedrals including Lincoln. This section contains several full-page illustrations, some of which are very pleasantly coloured.

Eventually we progress first to Belgium (where the historical account describes the fight to block the exit to the Bruges canal at Zeebrugge, and the Ypres salient) and then to France. These are accompanied by many striking photographs, most of them full page and all black and white. One depicts the wall at Dinant where 166 of the townsfolk were lined up in 1914 and shot. Several show American forces, and include some which are out of the ordinary - an improvised service being held in a shelled churchyard, for example.

The French section includes battle sites such as the Somme, the Marne and Verdun. It also has some pages about the Argonne-Meuse offensive, which seems to have been mainly an American affair. It is taken for granted that the visitor will make a detour to Paris, and a street map is provided showlng the location of the GER's new Paris offices.

There are two fold-out maps in the booklet. One is the standard GER map of its continental services, but with towns such as Ypres and Rheims added; the other is a larger-scale map covering the whole of the Western front. In addition there are four full-page local maps of the areas immediately around the battlefields.

The file is word-searchable and is provided with bookmarks to its main sections. It will be available to download as soon as payment has been made. You go to your account and click on ‘Downloads’. New customers create an account as they place their order.

Pages 83
File Size (MB) 5.7

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