Times Insider is offering glimpses of some of the most memorable wartime illustrations that appeared in The New York Times Mid-Week Pictorial, on the 100th anniversary of each issue.
The damage done to French cities and towns along the Western Front, as the German army staged a strategic retreat to the virtually impregnable Hindenburg line, was the main subject of this week’s Pictorial.
Noyon was among the towns retaken by Allied forces on March 18 after the Germans withdrew. Rotogravure reproductions in the Pictorial showed the French army entering Noyon — though scarcely in a cinematic scene of jubilation — as well as the damage done to Noyon, Bapaume, and Nesle.
“These photographs are the first to reach America showing the actual conditions in the French cities evacuated by the Germans in their hasty retreat to the Hindenburg line,” the Pictorial said. “They give ocular evidence of the destruction wrought by the Germans.”
Most stunning of all was a photo taken by Whitney Warren, one of the architects of Grand Central Terminal, who visited Arras, the scene of a prolonged and important battle. Thirteen inches tall on the printed page, it showed the 18th-century Notre Dame Cathedral with much of its roof blown off. The structure has since been restored, as seen in this contemporary view, which roughly corresponds to Warren’s photograph.