When the Wind of Oblivion Blows on the Fields of Remembrance!

While Canadians celebrated with dignity the end of the 1914-1918 war, where its troops showed such bravery, the Canadian company BORALEX (specialists in erecting wind turbines), completely ignored their sacrifices and their place in history. The Centennial was barely finished before the Historical and Memorial landscapes of the First World War of the Cambrai were subject to lobbyist’s intent upon establishing t forests of wind turbines.

It is a real historical and archaeological disaster that today's society is responsible in for this legal destruction of our region. No precautions or consideration has been taken to preserve the traces of the human tragedy that has forever marked the Cambrésis.
The landscapes and the subsoil had, up until now, suffered very little from industrial intervention and major changes to the environment. Even the 2 motorways (A2 and A26) had not left so much evidence of destruction. This, at a time when the battlefield of Cambrai had finally become one of the most remarkable landscapes of memory in Europe in the same way as the Battlefield of Waterloo.

The region of Cambrésis had particularly suffered during 2 events: The Battle of Cambrai of 1917, one of the most prominent in history with the triumph of tanks and that of the Canal du Nord, where the courage, determination and sacrifice of the Canadian soldiers showed the world that their country had become a great Nation. The numerous military cemeteries that mark their advance are like the footprints of a giant who walked towards victory.

Today, the indifference of the decision makers allows the wind turbine investors to demolish and destroy forever the physiognomy of our territory. The situation is all the more dramatic as companies have been made to consider that history. The impacts are hundreds of earthworks on several thousand square meters, including the hundreds of km of trenches for the wiring of wind turbines, and the widening, dismantling or the construction of roads and paths for the installation of machinery. The cranes, the diggers, the bulldozers, the trucks all clearing away and finally destroying the centennial traces of the 4 years of occupation and bloody fighting.

The French authorities had already been alerted to this with the Flesquières wind farm but it did not interfere in the project. The findings of the investigating commissioners had been clear. The military cemeteries belonged to the past and wind turbines to the future! The financial difficulties of the villages or the interests of the fields' owners concerned put paid to all discussions, so resigning us a reluctant acceptance of the status quo. The establishment of wind turbines in the Cambrésis by the state unfortunately did not respect the battlefield.

More serious and unacceptable, unlike what happens in the Somme, or in Bullecourt in Pas-de-Calais, NO ARCHAEOLOGICAL PRESCRIPTION has been imposed on the sector of Ribécourt, Havrincourt, Flesquieres, Cantaing, Metz in Couture, Gouzeaucourt, Beaucamp, etc., ie the entire battlefield of Cambrai! For what reasons? Yet the blood of our allies, with more than 20000 dead, was not respected! For kilometres, excavations for the future canal Seine Nord archaeologists were available, to remove some vestiges Gallo Roman settlements. Here nothing.
The archaeological department is not visible or interested, they are absent to witness the destruction of the archaeology they are tasked with saving!
All chances of recovering artefacts, tracking or inventory were lost as they were left to the goodwill of companies with no particular sensitivity to the history of our region.

For more than thirty years, members of the Flesquières Tank Association have been committed to collecting, saving, preserving an ‘heritage in danger’ because it was very often forgotten and many times neglected. Its members pledged to collect the memory of the elder residents of the region; to provide an inventory of the surviving concreted buildings of the Hindenburg line but also the evidence of the individual conflicts within the battles or traces of the occupation that are still present in the villages and the countryside. The recovery and preservation of those important remains of the battles being our priority.

We had hoped that the BORALEX Company in charge of the project would have paid special attention to these important places of memory because of their significance to our history and to those people that fought and died here, but this was not the case. Our attempts to alert them to that significance has been unsuccessful and our recommendations not taken into account. No compromises or alternatives have been forthcoming. The leaders of society acted in full knowledge of the development being on an important battlefield and on a place of remembrance. That they were aware of this is evidenced in their recognition that they were responsible in the event of an accident; which is quite commendable. BORALEX requested a company of pyrotechnic experts (gas shells, explosives, ammunition) to extract, on a large scale, all dangerous relics on the many sites where the workers were exposed to that danger..

For several months, a specialized company ordered by BORALEX, with a large staff and the help of many cranes, worked in the south of the Cambrésis in the heart of the battlefield.
Aware of the dangers of the work, we did not seek to interfere with their progress. Many shells and ammunition were extracted, and then disposed of by the official department. But we were shocked to find that also a considerable amount of harmless material that was witness to the suffering of WW1 soldiers was abandoned at the edges of the paths or at the corners of the fields to finally be picked up by scrapers or simply looted. For proof and our extreme concern, we found that the piece of a tank was found abandoned on the edge of a field track!

BORALEX had no obligation to do otherwise since no special prescription was imposed upon the issuance of the permits. The Canadian origin of the group gave us hope that particular attention would have been paid to our sector. There was nothing and yet investors did not choose to name the company underwriting the project "The Winds of the Cambrésis"! These winds only blow in the direction of investors, finance and lobbyists.

However, we asked that, as archaeologists do, inventories and photographic surveys of discoveries of work be carried out. There is no response from the company's communication department, which only tells us that ‘we would be notified if there were any important discoveries’.
Having no competence, how could they judge importance in terms of memories and the inherent significance of the items? This is evidenced by the fact that we have never been informed of any discoveries. We had explained that our members of the association have a perfect knowledge of the battlefield.
A lazy response from the communication department came to us confirming the complete lack of interest shown by the decision makers of this company. Our proposal has therefore remained unused, and the BORALEX Company has confirmed its lack of historical and humanitarian consideration in the work it has carried out, and which it still carries out in the Cambresis.
Could this be different? Yes we suggest that we have already been involved in a better way forward.

By irony of history on the North side of the Flesquières ridge, 6 wind turbines have just been erected. The company in charge was Austrian!

Spontaneously the leaders of this human-sized company immediately understood the historical interest of the site, but also showed sensibility to the territory. Everything we asked for above was
granted and we have been associated with many important and varying discoveries. All the operations, for example, were allowed to be filmed by one of our members.
The Austrian company also technically supported the construction of the interpretation Centre "Cambrai Tank 1917 ". While she was not obliged to do so, the same company voluntarily restored the surroundings of the two British military cemeteries of the village.
What' a difference compared to BORALEX!

In Bullecourt, where the Australians fought with such a bravery, the pressure of their authorities were able to abrogate the Wind turbines' project.
Archaeological digs are programmed every year by a British association of ex-military men. Each metre square of their digging is scrupulously controlled and studied. What is discovered is cleaned, indexed, photographed and preserved to testify to the memory and value of the men who fought.

On the crest of Flesquières, our association with a lot of effort and passion erected, in 1997, (It was unveiled 10 years later), a monument: "The Monument of the Nations" that features the flags of the nations that fought on this battlefield. The Canadian's flag flutters proudly within the others, but soon the wind turbines will put it in the dark shade!
The site is a vantage point where thousands of visitors come to discover the Cambrai battlefield. We have set up an orientation table to allow the reading of the landscape and the interpretation of the history.
We have also informed BORALEX of the nuisance and visual pollution that their machines will cause to our site as they will be erected just in front, but there again no consideration nor even any mention of a compromise.

For the Fields of the Battle of Cambrai, the situation is now hopeless. It was with deep sadness that we want to inform the many visitors and passionate aficionados of this historic rampage.

The company of "Cambresis winds" will remain for history as a devastating tornado.

We are now desperate for any help and advice that you may be able to give us or suggest where that advice and help could be found. Please contact us either through The friends of Deborah (contact@tank-cambrai.com) and we will be more than happy if you join our ranks in the ‘Third Battle of Cambrai’ that is being fought ‘Lest We Forget’. The friends of Deborah carried the 101st remembrance of the Battle of Cambrai 2017 out last November and we were honoured to do this in the new century of remembrance.