The bombing of the cathedral at Reims


Taken from the French side, this picture shows the violence of fighting in Champagne. Bloodied bodies lie on the ground while a nurse comforts an injured soldier, giving him a drink. The soldiers on horseback point to Reims Cathedral, on fire in the background. This is World War One in its infancy: the French uniforms have red trousers, which were replaced with ‘horizon blue’ (blue-grey) in 1915. It also shows the role of horses at a time before the wide use of engines.

Reims Cathedral, a major Gothic masterpiece where the kings of France were consecrated, was severely damaged in 1914. The city and its cathedral were bombed on 4 September 1914, shortly before the arrival of German troops. On 13 September the French recaptured the city and German bombing resumed. On 19 September, a shell fell on the cathedral’s north tower. A fire broke out and engulfed the entire structure, while the bombing continued. Restoration work was started in 1919 and the cathedral reopened in 1938. Work inside has continued ever since.

Full title:
The bombing of the cathedral at Reims
Held by:
Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg
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Public Domain