Storm of Steel – Fresnoy

German soldier and author Ernst Junger.

German soldier and author Ernst Junger. (Wikipedia)

After Vimy

Ernst Jünger was a German military officer whose memoir, Storm of Steel is considered a classic of Great War literature. Commissioned from the ranks, Jünger continued to serve with his regiment, the 73rd Hanoverian Regiment, and was wounded on 14 occasions. His description of his time in the French village of Fresnoy, prior to 3 May 1917, is of particular interest to this writer. Ernst Jünger was a recipient of the Wound Badge in Gold, the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class and the Pour le Mérite. Prior to his regiment’s move into Fresnoy, Jünger and his 2nd Company learned that the Allies captured Vimy.

Projectiles on exhibit at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Belgium.

Projectiles on exhibit at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, Zonnebeke, Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

The terrain between the edge of the village and the dressing-station was receiving a total artillery barrage. Light and heavy shells with impact-,fire- and time-delay fuses, duds, empty cases and shrapnels all participated in a king of madness that was too much for our eyes and ears. In amongst it all, going either side of the witches’ cauldron of the village, support troops were advancing.

Fresnoy was one towering fountain of earth after another. Each second seemed to want to outdo the last. As if by some magical power, one house after another subsided into the earth; walls broke, gables fell, and bare sets of beams and joists were sent flying through the air, cutting down the roofs of other houses. Clouds of splinters danced over whitish wraiths of steam. Eyes and ears were utterly compelled by this maelstrom of devastation.

(Jünger, Storm of Steel)

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TO BE CONTINUED…


About The Author

pferguson
In April 2007 Paul met Casey and Ian Williams of the Paradigm Motion Picture Company in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul has worked with Paradigm since 2009 as Producer and Historian. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was amazed by films such as David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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