Somme Battlefields – Part 2

Our day wasn’t over.  We would visit several more museums and cemeteries.  The magnitude of what these young men went through is overwhelming. Every corner or town square as we drove to our next stop, would be either a small cemetery or memorial to those who fought and lost their lives in this war.

  

 

Lochnagar Crater was our first stop in the afternoon.  The first thing you see is a sign that says “This site is dangerous, all who do enter at their own risk.”

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The Crater was created by a large mine placed beneath the German front lines on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, it was one of 19 mines that were placed beneath the German lines from the British section of the Somme front, to assist the infantry advance at the start of the battle.

 

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Large Cross at Lochnagar Crater

 

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The crater

 

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Along the pathway are the names of servicemen

 

The British named the mine after ‘Lochnagar Street’, a British trench where the Tunnelling Companies of the Royal Engineers dug a shaft down about 90 feet deep into the chalk; then excavated some 300 yards towards the German lines to place 60,000 lbs (27 tons) of  explosive in two large adjacent underground chambers 60 feet apart. Its aim was to destroy a formidable strongpoint called ‘Schwaben Höhe’ (Swabian Heights) in the German front line, south of the village of La Boisselle in the Somme département.

 

Our second stop was Beaumont Hammel Newfoundland Memorial with its well-preserved trenches enables you to actually see what it would have been like on the battlefields.  The trenches are now wooden pathways that you can walk along.  The scary thing is that you could nearly reach over and shake hands with the enemy.

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The trenches at Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

 

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The Trenches at the Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

 

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Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland Trenches

 

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Looks so peaceful …to think over 100 years ago this was a battlefield

The Newfoundland Memorial depicts a bronze caribou, designed by Basil Gotto, which stands atop a rocky mound and overlooks the former battlefield. You can get a great view over the battlefields and trenches.

 

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Bronze Caribou on top of a rocky mound and overlooks the former battlefield

 

 

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3 bronze plaques at the base of the memorial at Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland

While three bronze plaques at the base of the memorial commemorate 820 men from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve and the Mercantile Marine who gave their lives during the Great War and whose bodies have never been found or identified.

 

Y Ravine Cemetary is within the grounds of the Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland grounds.  It was started in 1917 by the British Corps and was originally called Y Ravine Cemetery No. 1. The British Front Line had moved further on so they were able to bury  soldiers who had lain here for over a year.

There are over 400 casualties  commemorated in this cemetery, many who are unidentified.  275 are identified.

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Y Ravine Cemetery

 

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The land a gift from the French people

 

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Unknown  gravestones

 

We visited Thiepval Memorial, commemorates more than 72,000 men from the British and South African forces who were reported missing in the Somme before 20 March 1918.  

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Thiepval Memorial for British and south African forces

 

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Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery
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Row upon row of crosses

 

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Thiepval Cemetery

 

 

Next was a quick visit to the  Caterpillar Valley which is the cemetery for New Zealanders who fought and lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme.  Most of our tour were Australians, however there were 2 couples from New Zealand and they requested a trip to the New Zealand Cemetary.  They laid a poppy on a cross and then stood and sang the New Zealand National Anthem in Maori .  Those of us who stood with them had tears streaming down our faces.

 

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The former grave of a New Zealand Soldier

 

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Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

 

 

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Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

 

 

 

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The memorial at Poziers  commemorates the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the First Australian Division who fought in France and Belgium in 1916, 1917 and 1918. The commemorative tablet on the memorial lists the battle honours for the 1st Australian Division.

POZIERES — MOUQUET FARM — LE BARQUE — THILLOY — BOURSIES — DEMICOURT — HERMIES — LAGNICOURT — BULLECOURT — 3RD BATTLE OF YPRES — MENIN ROAD — BROODSEINDE RIDGE — PASSCHENDAELE — BATTLE OF THE LYS — 2ND BATTLE OF THE SOMME — LIHONS — CHUIGNOLLES — HINDENBURG LINE

 

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The plaque is made up of a bronze relief map of the 1916 and 1918 Somme battlefields. In English and French there is an overview of the part played by the Australian Forces at this place it gives casualty figures for the Allies and Central Powers, it notes the Australian Memorials in France.

 

 

One of the German bunkers in this location has been partially preserved (no access — preserved for viewing only).

There was a very large strongpoint in the western end of Pozières village, named “Panzerturm” by the Germans. One level was built 3 metres above ground with two floors also built below ground. Owing to its prominence in the rubble of what was left of the village, the Australians called the strongpoint “Gibraltar”, presumably in likeness of the rock of Gibraltar as it protrudes from the Mediterranean. Some remains of this bunker can be seen at the memorial site.

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Gibraltar Bunker

 

 

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Gibraltar Bunker –  the steps heading to the underground bunker

 

 

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Gibraltar Bunker

 

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To add a bit of lightheartedness to our day, our coach’s somehow got lost.  We ended up on some very narrow laneways where turning a vehicle as large as our coach proved quite difficult.  We all cheered when we were told we would miss the nightly port talk by our cruise director.  He was lovely but what should have been a 15 minute chat would often be 30 minutes.  We made up for it the next night.  I think he “ordered” us up at 6pm instead of 6.30 and I think we all went to dinner after 7pm.

 

Here are some links if you wish to learn a bit more about the Battle of the Somme.

 

 

Lochnagar Crater

beaumont-hamel-newfoundland

Y Ravine Cemetery

Caterpillar Valley – New Zealand

Poziers 1st Australian Division

 

 

 

17 Replies to “Somme Battlefields – Part 2”

  1. This would be such a moving experience. My cousin visited Villers Breteneaux as a great uncle is buried there. I would like to visit one day if I can. It is good to remember isn’t it? Thank you for sharing with us and being part of the #MLSTL. Happy Christmas and I look forward to you joining us in 2019. xx

    Like

  2. My husband and I had a similar experience visiting the battlefields and cemeteries of Normandy. There was such a feeling of reverence and respect for lives lost and what these young soldiers and the citizens of these cities and villages went through. Thank you for sharing your experience. #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have visited many of the war cemeteries around Gallipoli, Lone Pine Cemetery to name just one. It is a very emotional experience to say the least. When you know what these soldiers went through under orders, the mind boggles.
    We all should appreciate the sacrifice so many made for future generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Everyone I know who has visited the Somme battlefields always says how moved they were by it and looking at your pictures I can understand why. Just seeing the rows and rows of headstones is a graphic reminder of how many lives were lost – such a waste of young men.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL – I’ve shared your post on my SM – Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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