Thiepval Memorial France

The Great War: WW1 Battlefields to Visit in The Somme

On the 1st July 2016 the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the defining conflicts of the First World War. The Centenary event will see thousands of visitors gather at the various battlements in and around Somme, northern France, to pay respects to the soldiers who lost their lives there. Take a walk through a historical landscape shaped by the Great War with our guide to some of the most significant battlefields and forgotten trenches of this area.

Thiepval Memorial

Thiepval Memorial France
Image by Virginie Noppe

This beautiful structure is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world, commemorating the lives of missing soldiers from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Thousands of names are carved into the stone of the building and the nearby visitor centre explores the history behind the devastating battles that left over a million wounded or dead. On the 1st July this memorial site will be hosting a ticket-only service and a brand new museum will open with a permanent exhibition, portraying a visual account of what happened there a century ago. If you want to visit the memorials surrounding Thiepval Memorial during the period from the 16th June to the 9th July, be aware that all visits must be pre-arranged and organised through the CWGC.

Ulster Tower

Ulster Tower France Somme
Image by Virginie Noppe

Dedicated to the lives of Northern Irish soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division, this 70ft memorial was one of the first structures ever to be erected on the Western Front. The picturesque fortification is a copy of Helen’s Tower, a folly located in County Down near the training grounds of the 36th Ulster Division.

Ulster Tower France Somme

Take the time to visit the Memorial Room, join a tour of the area to the extensive frontline trenches in Thiepval Wood or simply reflect while walking around this now quiet corner of France.

Newfoundland Memorial Park

Newfoundland Memorial Park Caribou
Image by Virginie Noppe

Located near to Beaumont Hamel, the Newfoundland Memorial Park was named after the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of the Canadian Army who lost their lives there. Marking the front line trenches, a majestic caribou statue stands high above the landscape.

Newfoundland Memorial Park
Image by Virginie Noppe

Much of the area has been undisturbed since the war, with nearby Auchonvillers (Ocean Villas) trench one of the best preserved WW1 trenches in France.

Lochnagar Crater Memorial

Lochnagar Crater - La Boisselle
Image by Virginie Noppe

A true sight to behold, this enormous cavern is the largest crater ever made by man in anger. The blast was triggered by a mine containing 60,000 lbs of ammunition; the explosion created a crater 300ft in diameter and 70ft deep.

Lochnagar Crater Memorial
Image by Georges Vandenbulke © 2011

A powerful and emotive sight, the circular crevice now serves as a non-profit, free to enter memorial site to all those who fought in the First World War, and is supported by donations and volunteers.  This humbling landmark is also referred to by its private owners as a ‘Garden of Remembrance’.

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