The First World War
The First World War had a profound effect on the town and its region. Occupied from 1914 to 1918, it suffered some of the most widespread destruction of the entire French front. By the end of the war, its population (18,000 inhabitants) had been halved. It was commended with the Cross of the Knight of the Legion of Honour and the Croix de Guerre with palm leaf. By the end of the war, Lens was razed to the ground; everything had to be rebuilt.