Somme 1916 Trench Museum - Albert - France

Address: next to the Basilica, Albert (See map)
Telephone: +33 (0)3 22751617

Shop: shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: refreshments
Size of the museum/site: medium
Year of visit: 2006
Overall rating:

Description: Ah yes, the fair town of Albert, with its glittering basilica-tower and majestic town hall, tucked away in the hilly countryside of northern France. Albert and surroundings suffered greatly during the Great War. The top of the basilica got shot off, to name just one of the town's many misfortunes. Apart from a nice historic centre Albert is nowadays sporting the Somme 1916 Trench museum, located in the tunnel complex that runs under the city.

When you descend into the dark hallways of the former shelters (last used during World War 2), you're greeted by diorama after diorama dealing with the trench war of 1914-1918. The museum is a port of call for every UK coach touring the former battlefields, so expect it to be fairly busy and crowded. Nonetheless it's worth your while to visit the museum. Apart from the dioramas it features a film about the war, hundreds of photographs and many display cases with personal items belonging to soldiers that fought here. Our tip is to stick with the dioramas and watch the occasional photo as you make your way through, or else you won't be out 'till next Christmas!

The Albert museum gives a better insight into WWI warfare than its much-hailed counterpart in Peronne (Historial de la Grande Guerre), so if you've only got limited time to spent on the former battlefields make sure you visit this one first. Better still, combine it with a visit to the (musée vivant 1914-1918) in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, which is a superb museum.

Descending into the abbyss: the entrance to the exhibtion in the tunnels under Albert's city centre.

Diorama featuring two French soldiers in the foreground. The left one is dressed in the outfit used at the start of the war. The right one wears an outfit from a later date, in which the eye-catching red trousers were replaced by more neutral ones.

Building of the trenches. Walls and floor were lined with wood for strength and to reduce the amount of mud floating about.

German lookout covered in 12 kilograms of body protection, keeping him safe from snipers' bullets.

British medical post.

Mural of the basilica's tower in 1916 with its top shot off.

Several artifacts found in the mud of the battlefield.

Overview of the concrete tunnel in which the museum is housed.

German machinegunner ready and waiting for the attack.

Soldier dealing swiftly with the plague of the trenches: rats as big as dogs knibbling away on supplies and spreading diseases.