|Intercommunality||Région de Bapaume|
|• Mayor (2008–2014)||Jean-Paul Delevoye|
|• Land1||5.76 km2 (2.22 sq mi)|
|• Population2 density||710/km2 (1,800/sq mi)|
|INSEE/Postal code||62080 / 62450|
|Elevation||108–137 m (354–449 ft)
(avg. 122 m or 400 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
A farming and light industrial town located 10 miles (16 km) south of Arras at the junction of the A1 autoroute and the N17 and N30 national roads.
The position of the town of Bapaume is a crossing point between Artois and the plains of Flanders on the one hand and the valley of the Somme and the Paris basin on the other. Many routes pass through Bapaume, ancient roads between the two regions a more recently an autoroute in 1965. The railway link was put into service in 1871 and upgraded to TGV in 1993.
The position of Bapaume meant it was subjected to many wars. Defences were built: a Roman camp, later, a feudal motte, then a castle on top of the feudal motte. It seems that Queen Matilda of Artois stayed there and that Joan of Arc did too.
In 1335, Bapaume was fortified outside the castle walls. However, these fortifications were not very effective, the city was taken repeatedly. In 1540, Charles Quint ordered a fortified place to be built, with thick walls and bastions, including defensive systems developed such as tunnels and galleries. These fortifications were later reinforced by Vauban.
By the 19th century, Bapaume was no longer regarded as a fortified town. In 1847 the dismantling of the fortifications was therefore undertaken. It was conducted by the Army as part of manoeuvres and the testing of explosives. The walls and bastions were blown-up and the moats were filled in. Only the tower and part of the bastion of Dauphin are still visible. Work has been done recently to restore the underground galleries and make them accessible at the stronghold of La Reyne south-east of the city and at the bastion of Dauphin. These were used as underground shelter during both world wars.
The Battle of Bapaume
The Battle of Bapaume (1871) took place on the 2–3 January 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War in and around Biefvillers-lès-Bapaume and Bapaume. The Prussian advance was stopped by Genéral Louis Léon César Faidherbe at the head of the Armée du Nord.
World War I
In 1916, Bapaume was one of the objectives during the Battle of the Somme.
In 1918, the Second Battle of Bapaume, 21 August - 3 September, was part of the second phase of the Battle of Amiens, the British and Commonwealth attack often taken to be the turning point of the First World War on the Western Front and the beginning of what was later known as the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive. Improved armoured support and artillery bombardment weakened once impregnable positions and helped the Allied forces tear holes through trench lines. On 29 August New Zealanders, after heavy fighting, occupied Bapaume, having broken through, with the British 5th Division, the very strong Le Transloy-Loupart trench system and having overcome many other strong points around the town.
World War II
During World War II, Bapaume was a combat zone. The mayor, Monsieur Guidet, a member of the Resistance, was arrested and sent to the camp at Gross-Rosen where he died on 27 November 1944. In 1948, a monument that shows the time of his arrest was created in his memory. The town hall has an urn containing soil from Gross-Rosen and a tableau featuring the mayor.
The statue of General Faidherbe
Inaugurated on September 27, 1891 and sculpted by Louis Noel. During the First World War, on September 29, 1916, the statue was requisitioned by the Germans, believing that it was bronze. The pedestal, pitted by shrapnel remained empty for 13 years. It was not until 1926 that the town decided to ask the sculptor Dechin to recreate the statue from the original plans. The new monument was inaugurated on August 18, 1929 by Paul Painlevé, then Minister of War. During the redevelopment of the square in 1997, the statue was moved a few metres along.
Monument de Briquet et Taillandier
A monument was erected in front of the town hall in memory of Albert Taillandier and Raoul Briquet. They were both elected representatives of the Pas-de-Calais but of different opinions, Taillandier being a Conservative, while Briquet was a Socialist. On an inspection mission to the fighting front on behalf of the National Assembly of France, they wanted to spend the night in the building but they were trapped and killed by an explosion in the town hall on March 25, 1917. Ernst Jünger revealed in his war memoir that the explosion was caused by an IED that had been left by retreating German troops.
The origin of the parish of Saint-Nicolas merges with the origin of the town. The first church was built when the town became important in the year 1085. The second church was built around the year 1600 but destroyed during the First World War. It was rebuilt on the same foundations between 1924 and 1929. The only part of the old church surviving is a statue of Our Lady of Mercy.
Bapaume is twinned with:
- Rickard, J (5 September 2007), Second battle of Bapaume, 21 August-1 September 1918, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_bapaumeII.html
- The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade; Part 4.—Bapaume, August 28th to 29th http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-NZRi-t1-body-d14-d4.html
- Primary Documents: Sir Douglas Haig's 3rd Despatch (German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line), 31 May 1917 http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/haighindenburgdespatch.htm
- Bapaume on the Quid website (French)
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