Black and white photographic print which depicts the partially destroyed Basilica of Note-Dame de Brebieres in Albert. In January 1915 the statue positioned on top of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary and her child, also known as the 'Golden Virgin', was hit by a German shell. The statue did not fall off the steeple at this point but remained hanging at a right angle up until the almost complete demolition of the building in April 1918. Many Australians passed through the town of Albert and saw the statue, or as many called her the 'Lady of the Limp', as a symbol of the destruction and lunacy of the war. Photographs, postcards and paintings were produced of the leaning statue and sent to the families of soldiers all over the world.
It is one of 95 black and white, and, sepia toned photographs taken in France during World War I, attached to a photograph album. The album includes a few photographs of enemy prisoners, the war cemetery at Warloy, a wrecked German ambulance and images of the local French people.
Most photographs are of Albert and surrounds so it would seem probable that most were taken during and after the Battle of the Somme (1916). In addition there are also photographs dated 1917. The photographs were taken by Private John Edward Lord, 13th Field Ambulance, and brought back to Australia by him and compiled in an album at the end of the First World War.
The album is one of many souvenirs brought back to Australia after World War I by Lord, and is part of a larger collection of photograph albums, images, documents and World War I memorabilia donated by Lord to Museum Victoria.
Description of Content
The image depicts the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebières in Albert. The Church has been badly damaged with most of the roof missing. The fallen 'Golden Virgin' statue precariously hangs from the Church tower.
Monochrome photograph, mounted in a small, grey photograph album.
This album appears to have been prepared to 'showcase' the war experiences of John Lord and the photographs associated with these. The album has been very carefully prepared and the quality of the photographs is generally good, in comparison to the album ST40491, also compiled by John Lord, which has a number of photographs which are of poor quality, many photographs removed and written in (mostly) illegible pencil. This suggests this album was most probably compiled after the war, with photographs probably gathered from other photograph albums of Lord's.
The subjects of the photographs are of trenches (both German and Allies), horses, camps, farms, graves and cemeteries, civilians, soldiers, churches and other buildings. Many of the photographs were taken around the town of Albert and are dated 1916 and 1917. From this information we can tell that Lord was involved with the Battle of the Somme when these photographs were taken.
The Battle of the Somme was fought from north of the Somme river between the towns of Albert and Arras. The Battle began on the 1 July and was called off on the 18 November 1916. The Battle of the Somme is famous for the loss of 58,000 British troops (one third of them killed) on the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, which to this day remains a one-day record.
Donation from J. Lord, 1986
Place & Date Depicted
Hand written in ink on matt at the bottom of the photograph album page: 'Taken from various positions - note / position of "Madonna". July - 1916'
Type of item
Image Dimensions - Photograph
66 mm (Width), 44 mm (Height)
Image Dimensions - Photograph Album Page
192 mm (Width), 146 mm (Height)