Memorials, Museums and Cemeteries in the Somme Region

Karl, if you want more information about the Vimy Monument, just let me know. I have a small folder here, which explains every sculpture on the monument plus some general infomation about the build. I could send a pdf to you if you want. It’s in english.

Bruce, where are you from? I haven’t seen everything there but it’s worth a trip of at least a week, maybe another few days more if you also want to see Flanders Fields. Highly recommended!

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BlackWidow I’m in Australia. So more than an overnight trip!!!

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Oh yes, Australia is a bit far for a weekend trip to France …

My flight Frankfurt - Sydney took 21 hours years ago. But I’ve stayed 6 months in Oz, still haven’t seen everything.

Been to Europe many times but alway in a hurry on business. I promised to return to trace my grandfathers steps. But time just seems to pass by.

Same here! So many plans to travel but so little time to do so … :unamused:

So this post today is especially for Bruce. When you drive to Thiepval you have to pass through Pozières. This village was captured by the Australians on the 23. July 1916 and in the village a monument can be found. Even at the entrance a Digger welcomes you …

In the middle of Pozières stands the memorial of the 1st Australian Division

Just about 1 kilometer outside of the village we find the Pozières British Cemetery. Unfortunately it lies directly at a country road with a lot of traffic.

A few more kilometers further south we come to the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux. Another impressive memorial. Been there twice also because of very bad weather on my first visit.

On the walls are the names of 11000 missing australian soldiers who fell in France …

It’s possible to climb up the tower and have a look around the area of the former battlefield …

Note the age of the guys …

Directly behind the memorial is the new 2018 opnened Sir John Monash Centre, also named Franco-Australian Museum. It’s interesting and shows photos and some finds of the battleground. They also have a little cinema inside, which shows a 20 minutes computer animated film about the Battle of Le Hamel on the 4. July 1918. Met even some australian tourists inside the museum. Sorry, again I have taken no photos. Blame me …

The rear entry of the museum …

Just mentioned Le Hamel, which is just about 5 kilometers east of Villers-Bretonneux. The have built a small Memorial Park over there …

They even kept some trenches from the fightings in 1918 …

Beside the walk to the memorial some plagues tell the story of the battle and I was surprised to find also this guy here. Didn’t know that Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen was shot down near this ground. Today we know that it was not the canadian Captain Roy Brown who shot him down, it were australian machine gunners.

If you wonder why all flags are lowered at the memorials, it was because of Queen Elisabeth II, whose funeral was on the weekend that I was in France.

Torsten

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Thanks. Much appreciated.

Australia’s contribution to WW1 was totally made up of volunteers. “The big adventure”. Boys from the bush. A little known fact is that Australia suffered more casualties per capita than any other country during WW1.

My grandfather, by pure chance, was at many of the ‘big’ battles and lived to talk about them. He was a private. Mere cannon fodder. He talked for years after returning home and no one believed him. So he kept quiet. They made fun of him because he was a larrikin who told tall stories. My mother always dismissed his stories of his WW1 involvement. Then around 5 years ago I went looking for all his records. I found the movements and fights his section fought in. Every word, every story he told all turned out to be true. My mother is 97 and in a nursing home. She still has all her marbles. When I told her and gave her a small book I had made up of his service in the army she never blinked an eye. Put the book to one side and has never mentioned it since. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because those who weren’t there simply aren’t capable of comprehending what happened during WW1 to so many. (Side story. Stan, my grandfather, Spent the last 2 months of the war in jail. He punched a British office. He would have been shot if he had been a British soldier. The details don’t belong in this thread but he had a wild side that may have almost cost him his life while on the otherside may have saved his live many times).

I want to go just to say thanks to all those young men who thought they were going on an adventure but instead found themselves in hell.

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Thank you for posting these photos. They are very somber and really causes one to reflect on the tremendous amount of lives lost during these battles. My Grandfather was part of the American Expeditionary Force. Any stories he might have told have been lost to time.

Cheers,
C.

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Thanks for your feedback, Bruce and Charles! Much appreciated! Especially for your personal thoughts, Bruce. Time has beaten me in the end, so I could not visit any US memorial or cemetery. They are all a bit “out of the way”. But there will be a “next time” for sure.

Today we visit some less known memorials. Still have a lot of photos to show.

Halfway between Bapaume and Arras is the small village Bullecourt. They have a memorial known as the “Bullecourt Digger”. There was a heavy fighting around Bullecourt in 1917.

Further north already close to the border to Belgium I found this memorial for soldiers who are mostly forgotten, when we talk about WW1. The Indian Army Memorial at Neuve Chapelle. Unfortunately directly at a busy road and roundabout, so no silence possible here, nonetheless a very beautiful place.

Just beside this memorial I found something unique in France. The only cemetery of the Corpo Expedicionário Portugues, the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps in France. Some of the grave stones are already badly weathered but the cemetery is still well kept …

This grave caught my eye

A bit further north, already in the Departement Nord, I came to the village Fromelles. They have also build a small Memorial Park for the A.I.F. soldiers, who died in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916 …

On my way back from Fromelles to Peronne I suddenly came by a monument of the french Marshall Ferdinand Foch, who played a major role in the Armistice of the 11. November 1918.

Everytime I entered Peronne from the north I came by this australian monument.

That’s all for today, guys. I still have some more photos, so this thread will be continued.

Torsten

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Im not sure we can comprehend WW1 and what affect it still has on many French folks. A year or two back there was a proposal to build a wind farm in France. It turned out that the farm site was on a field where many soldiers, mostly Australians, simply dissapeared in the mud. One Australian politician approached the French government and they graciously had the wind farm approval withdrawn.
In the small town of Villers-Brettonneux there is a sign in each classroom of the school that says, “Let us never forget Australia”. The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia.
In 2018 a new $100million museum/memorial was opened dedicated to Australians who served. Paid for by the Australian government.
Yes I’m patriotic but Im sure there are many many other nations just as appreciative of those who died and those who never came home the same.
I wonder if our, or the next generation, will remember more recent conflicts like we do WW1?

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Sadly, I doubt it very much. With the way things are going with the millennial generation and the Gen X population, they will look at them as aggressors and criminals. I think the way we remember the heroes from WW1 and WW2 wont ever be reflected again, which is I think, a very sad thing as all we ever wanted to do, was simply serve and protect. I am just thankful we have all these memorials that we can remember them by.

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I read today that the world will now be divided into the persecuted and the persecutors. Which one will the WW1 & WW2 heros etc etc be?

Hopefully, the vast majority will remember them for them in the way we do …

On a different note, what does annoy me is when people incorrectly half mast a flag like in the images above. Its such a simple thing, yet so many get it totally wrong :angry:

Bruce, WW1 is mostly forgotten here in Germany. It is overshadowed by the immense losses of lives in WW2 and the war crimes that came with it. WW1 is too long ago, it had not such an “impact” of destruction on Germany than on France and Belgium. WW1 had about 10 million dead plus another 10 million missing, wounded, crippled or mentally broken. As far as I know, that last german surviver died in 2007, the last of them all in 2009. My grandpa died in 1971 at the age of 81 when I was 7 years old. As I mentioned before, on the 11. November carnival starts here, so no time for the majority of the people to think about the end of WW1. But I do. There wasn’t even a side note in the news here that day.

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Thanks for all the pictures you posted and the ones to come, Torsten.
The Dutch had little to do with WW1 as we managed to keep a neutral stance. Albeit a armed neutrality. A large part of the male population was at arms (20.000 were mobilised for 4 years) . This, the large number of both refugees and interned foreign uniformed personnel and the problems with the trade had great impact on the Dutch society. The second World War, however, is our “Great War”. It is still widely commemorated, and the recent developments in the Ukraine seem to catalyze these. The youth somehow appreciate the fact that freedom does not come cheaply since the terrible images started to appear on the screens…

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Maybe where you come from matters! Australia is a ‘young’ country and WW1 helped define who we are. The Australian John Monash was one of the key players in ending WW1 with new tactics. Because Australia played such a key part and the heavy losses suffered Australians see it as a defining moment. European countries have a much longer history to look back on.
WW2 is another matter. Australia initially deployed to Europe. But then when the fight was on our doorstep with Japan then things changed. Australians see WW2 from a different perspective. And i guess that is true for all nations.

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That is for sure… Everything depends on the eye of the beholder. And there is nothing wrong or right about that.

Sorry for the little delay in my posts but I’ve been working on my Hasegawa Ju 87 most of my spare time this week.

Okay, today we visit two more less known memorials plus two cemeteries. Half way between Longueval (Delville Wood, you remember) and Bapaume is the small village Gueudecourt. In the fields around is another small New Foundland Memorial. In October 1916 the New Foundlanders played a decisive role in the capture of a german trench during the Battle of Le Transloy. And it was a costly …

Not far away from this monument I drove by a cemetery which turned out to be quite interesting. It is a bit “off the route” but I had time and had to drive a small agricultural way to reach it. At the first view the AIF Burial Ground looks like many others, but …

… there are also french graves on this cemetery …

All french crosses everywhere have Mort Pour La France, Died For France, written on the plague …

When I read this plague on the wall I was a bit surprised that also three german soldiers are buried here …

… and I started to search for their graves because I didn’t see any black crosses. With the help of the register at the entrance I found at least one of them …

When I signed the visitors book I thought I would be the first one here for a long time, but I was wrong. To my surprise this cemetery is frequently visited and I was the 2nd to sign the book on that day.

The next memorial is hard to find. Southeast of Pozières is the village Mametz and I wanted to find this memorial. Again I had to drive an agricultural road and through a forest and I thought I got lost but finally I found the Welsh Dragon of Mametz in memory of the 38th Welsh Division. Mametz Wood held great german resistance. After eight days of fierce combat and heavy losses the Welshmen captured the wood on the 11. July 1916.

My final stop on that day was in Fricourt at the german cemetery.17027 soldiers are resting here …

There are 4 mass graves on this cemetery.

I checked the plagues for a soldier with my last name but there’s none here.

This stone translates “In four mass graves rest 11970 german soldiers, 6477 are unknown”

I have one more bigger post in a few days with photos from the museum in Peronne.

Torsten

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