Franco-British Memorial - Thiepval - France

Address: 8 rue de l'Ancre, Thiepval (See map)
Telephone: +33 (0)22 746047

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: refreshments
Size of the museum/site: large
Year of visit: 2006

Description: Early morning first of July, 1916, marks the start of the bloody battle at the Somme in Northern France. After the eight days during opening bombardment of the German trenches preceding the attack, it was believed that the British troops could walk unhindered across no man's land and capture the German positions without too much hassle. Things went differently though. During the first day alone 58.000 British soldiers were lost (one third of them being killed).

The Thiepval Memorial honours all the British, South African and French soldiers who laid down their lives in this battle and is specifically meant to commemorate a number of 72.000 men that went missing/couldn't be identified. The names of these men are engraved on large panels on the walls of the monument.

The memorial is the largest Commonwealth memorial in the world. In a way, visitors will experience the vastness of the site simply by standing in the middle and looking upwards: one feels small and rather lonely, exactly how it was meant to be. Looking around the memorial you'll notice the French and British graveyards holding the last resting places of many a foot soldier. All in all a sobering experience.

The memorial has a height of 45 metres and is visible from many kilometres around Thiepval.

One of the panels in the walls of the memorial, in which the names are engraved of more than 72.000 missing/unknown men that fought in the Battle of the Somme.

Gravestones of the British casualties, that are buried nearby the memorial tower.

Gravestones of French casualties.

A look upwards the memorial.

On July 1st 1916 hell brook loose at the Somme. Visiting early July we had just missed the remembrance ceremonies, but the flowers were still there.

The information centre deals briefly with the Battle of the Somme and its aftermath. A rather nice shop can also be found here.