Our WW1 Memorial Day

We picked today to visit some of  the notable memorial sites on the WW1 western front.  Chris did the driving and we therefore were able to get around a few sites in the same day.  Of course we choose the hottest day of the year to visit the sites, but we did leave early in the morning to avoid the scorching afternoon temperatures.

We travelled first to Albert a major town on the western front to see the Basilica Notre Dame.

SAM_6494

a colourful tribute besides the Basilica

SAM_6502

a quite moment in Albert

SAM_6503

we  then went to La Boisselle and the ‘The Lochnagar Crater’ where French troops fought and died

SAM_6516

This crater and others were made by miners, recruited from the Commonwealth, tunneling towards the enemy line and planting 40 tonnes of explosives under the  German lines and blowing  them up in an act of shock and awe and then sweep through the German lines, unfortunately, they did not attack immediately and the Germans regrouped and were able to bring deadly fire upon the advancing troops.

SAM_6519

this particular wreath got to me, it was dedicated to the soldiers ‘shot at dawn’ in other words those soldiers some as young as 16 who turned away from the battle and were shot by their own side as cowards.  The saddest moment  of the day

Then on to perhaps the most famous monument of the WW1 the Thiepval Memorial, where the deaths of 73, 000 British and French troops are remembered.

SAM_6524

Its good that  the new generation is being educated about the carnage that was WW1.

SAM_6533

The third visit was to the Ulster Tower where men from 36th Ulster Division went into battle.  The tower is in fact a replica of Helen’s Tower in northern Ireland where men of the 36th trained before joining the battle lines.

SAM_6545

SAM_6546

Our final visit was to the Canadian Newfoundland memorial at Beaumont-Hamel .

Because of the preserved trenches and numerous shell craters at Beaumont -Hamel it was easy to imagine the carnage of this battle.

SAM_6549

SAM_6556

SAM_6551

The Caribou Mound, the bronze caribou faces the German trenches

SAM_6559

This is the ‘Danger Tree’ .  In the heat of the battle many Newfoundlanders gravitated to this tree as their advance was halted by a storm of bullets and shrapnel.

I was left with  one particular thought at the end of our visits, that a whole generation, millions of young men, from both sides were slaughtered during the conflict known as WW1 and yet some 20 years later we did it all again, madness on a  grand scale.  The European  project was then formed to prevent any repeat of the madness.  It is ironic that 100 years after the battle of the Somme 2016 we choose to leave the European project.


This post was written by Terry Barrett

Photographs by Tes


4 Comments

  • Celia Vardy

    I agree, well said. Now, as then, we are lead by the people in power who have supposedly our best collective interests at heart? Are we all really just cannon fodder in the great scheme of things. My great uncle is buried near Albert having died in a field hospital there in 1917. He was only twenty one and just one of thousands. What a waste.


  • Val Poore

    I’m reading a collection of letters written by an American woman who stayed in France at the outbreak of war. The book is such a clear statement of what people thought about honour and the glory of dying for their country. I’m finding it very compelling but very sad too, knowing that so many thousands of young men died for nothing more than a few feet of gain or loss. These photos are very moving. It’s hard to credit that 16 year old boys would have been shot for cowardice. Too awful.


  • Val Poore

    I’m reading a collection of letters written by an American woman who stayed in France at the outbreak of war. The book is such a clear statement of what people thought about honour and the glory of dying for their country. I’m finding it very compelling but very sad too, knowing that so many thousands of young men died for nothing more than a few feet of gain or loss. These photos are very moving. It’s hard to credit that 16 year old boys would have been shot for cowardice. Too awful.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *