16 Oct The Remembrance Trail of the Somme
For an history enthusiast, the Somme is an unmissable and fascinating french region. The vast scale at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 can be seen in the traces that it has left in the ground: trenches, mine craters, shattered vegetation, villages wiped out. The Remembrance Trail that we enter you today links two of the symbolic towns of the Great War : Albert and Péronne.
In Albert, the Somme Trench Museum describes the lives of the soldiers in the trenches during the Battle of the Somme. Some 15 alcoves and display cases are installed in a 230-metre long underground gallery, used as anti air-raid shelters in the Second World War. Sound, pictures and lighting displays plunge the visitor into the troops’ daily experience.
At La Boisselle, Lochnagar Crater, a huge mine crater 91 metres in diameter and 21 metres in depth, is lasting evidence of the series of explosions set off on 1 July 1916. This particular mine was blown at 7.28 am that day, marking the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
The village of Pozières is a special place of remembrance for Australians, where their troops fought their first major battle on the Western Front (memorials to the First and Second Australian Divisions). The remains of a blouckhouse, nicknamed « Gibraltar » are still visible. The Memorial to the Tanks Corps can also be found at Pozières, with its foursmall model tanks.
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing (45 metres high) is visible for many kilometres around. Its massive pillars bear the names of 72,000 soldiers who died on this battle front and who have no known burial place.
At Thiepval, a new museum at the heart of the battlefields : with its 450m2 dedicated to the history and remembrance of the battles of the Somme (1914-1918), this new museum interweaves British, German and French accounts of war in the Somme. One gallery is dedicated to the terrible battle of 1916: one of the most deadly battles of the Western Front. The 60 metre-long panorama by Joe Sacco provides a visual account ofthe atrocious day of 1st July 1916 and acts like a window opening up onto the battlefield.
Close to Thiepval, the Ulster Tower is a replica of Helen’s Tower, which stands in the former training grounds of the 36th (Ulster) Division near Belfast. On 1 July 1916, this division was caught between German fire and the British artillery.
At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Memorial Park offers a genuine and moving vision of the battle, with its remarkably well-preserved network of trenches, and the cemeteries and memorials that can be seen in the park. The visitor centre includes a permanent interpretation display.
At Longueval, the South African National Memorial and Museum honour the South African troops who underwent their baptism of fire in Delville Wood, known duringthe war as ‘Devil’s Wood‘. If the 3,200 men who took part in the attack of 15 July 1916, only 142 came out unharmed five days later. In July 2016 a wall of remembrance was unveiled commemorating all of the South African servicemen who died during the Great War in all theatres of operations (Africa, Europe, Middle East).
At Rancourt, the Souvenir Français Memorial Chapel, beside its vast cemetery, is the only French site in the department. This village also has the sad distinction of grouping together three national military cemeteries – French, British and German.
At Péronne, the Historial, museum of the Great War is a trilingual museum of international reference on the subject of the Great War and labellised « Musée de France ». A rich collection of over 1600 artefacts and temporary expositions which highlight the historical and military dimensions of the Great War.
At Froissy, the genuine steam train travels between Froissy and Dompierreon a railway line that was constructed in 1916 for the Battle of the Somme. It was used to supply the trenches with artillery during the war. Train rides available. Museum dedicated to the history of narrowgauge railway lines from 1800 to the present time.
At Villers-Bretonneux, the Australian National Memorial, an imposing white stone memorial, which consists of a central tower and two corners pavilions linked to the tower by plain walls that bear the names of the missing Australian soldiers who have no know grave. It is the location for an annual commemoration of ANZAC Day. The Franco-Australian museum illustrates the role ofAustralian troops during the First World War.
At Doullens, the Uniﬁed Command Hall, situated in the Town Hall evokes the key moment when unified command was established between the French and Bristih Armies on 26 March 1918.