Must see on the Somme
There is enough on the Somme for a lifetime of visits – but most of us don’t have that much holiday and time is tight, so here are a few “must see” places, for the first-time visitor.
A preserved piece of the battlefield, complete with trenches, no-man’s land and shell holes. Two major actions were fought here – on 1st July involving the 29th Division, including the Newfoundland Regiment, and the 51st (Highland) Division on 13th November. There is an interpretive centre to tell the story and guides on hand (depending on the season) to tell the story.
The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing
Almost 73,000 names of those whose bodies were never identified during the Somme fighting from July 1915 to February 1918 are commemorated on the . Astounding as that figure is it is only the British and South Africans who are listed here – other Empire dead chose their own memorials. It is the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens and was opened in 1932. A new visitor centre was opened in September 2004.
Lochnagar Mine Crater
Created on the opening day of the Somme battle by the explosion of some 29 tons of explosive under the German lines. The vast chasm of now stands in mute witness as a poignant memorial to all who fought and died here.
Facing Thiepval Wood, the tower stands in memory of the Ulstermen who fell here. An interpretative centre eloquently tells their story. A well stocked book shop, maps, postcards and gifts plus a welcoming café with various refreshments on offer.
Musée des Abris, Albert
Situated under the Basilica, the Musée des Abris recounts the Somme with many relics from the battlefield on show.
The wood saw desperate fighting by the South Africans in July 1916 and now contains a beautiful museum remembering their endeavours. Books, maps, postcards and gifts can be bought from the nearby shop.
Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne
The modern museum, , puts the war in its wider context with excellent displays and well-stocked bookshop.