Corbie is an ancient town with a fascinating history, a friendly atmosphere and good rail connections to Paris and Amiens.
During the First World War, the Germans shelled Corbie and came close to taking it in the Spring Offensive of 1918. Before that, it was a rest town for Australian troops. A large hospital, located 13 miles behind the front line, treated many Australians and British soldiers. JRR Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, reported sick in October 1916 and was treated for trench fever in the n°11 Casualty Clearing Station located in Gézaincourt and then in Varennes, a small village near Corbie. Locals say his epic novel was partly inspired by the twin towers of Corbie’s Abbey Church.
In 1918, the Australian general Pompey Elliott caught a British officer with a cart full of looted Champagne near here, and apparently stated that the next officer caught looting would be hanged in the Corbie market square.
The 7th century Benedictine Abbey, was once one of the most important in France, but today very little of it remains. The tourist office has walking tours that take you inside the Abbey church of St-Pierre, with its extraordinary collection of relics.
Vaux-Sur-Somme: Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, crashed here on 21 April 1918. The Canadian pilot Roy Brown was initially credited with shooting him down, but recent research suggests he was killed by Australian ground fire. His plane was stripped for souvenirs within minutes. A piece of the wing resides at the Aeronautical Museum in Albert.
Sailly-le-Sec: The Australian 3rd Division fought here in March 1918 as part of a desperate campaign to stop the German Spring offensive and the 3rd Division Memorial can be visited here across the river from the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel.