Harnes during World War I was located behind enemy lines only five miles from the Western Front, and some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place nearby. Much of Harnes was destroyed, and three-fourths of the buildings damaged. The German army occupied the town from October 3, 1914 to mid-October 1918, during which time Harnes was a command post and field hospital. A "switch" trench west of town connected the main German trench at the front to back-up trench systems that the Germans could fall back to during a retreat. The Battles of Loos (Sept. 25 to Oct. 19, 1915) and Hill 70 (Aug. 15-25, 1917) were fought close by, with combined British and German losses of over 100,000 men, a third of them deaths. Although the Germans on April 17, 1917 evacuated most civilians, with a second evacuation on July 5, 1917, many still perished. Perhaps half of the 18,000 civilians of nearby Lens, which was just behind the front line, were killed by artillery bombardments. Although there were fewer deaths in Harnes, 35 adults and 237 children still lost their lives.
The loss of lives was the greatest tragedy, but many historical records were damaged or destroyed as well. The destruction of the town archives at Harnes in particular was a great loss to historians and genealogists. Also, the
|Some Related Links|
|The Counts of Harnes
Michel of Harnes, the Knight-Trouvere
The Last Count of Harnes
|Descendants of the Counts of Harnes
The Three Deaths of Uncle Antoine
Harnes Through the Ages
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