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.
a colourful tribute besides the Basilica
a quite moment in Albert
we then went to La Boisselle and the ‘The Lochnagar Crater’ where French troops fought and died
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.
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.
Its good that the new generation is being educated about the carnage that was WW1.
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.
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.
The Caribou Mound, the bronze caribou faces the German trenches
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