Memorial sites in the Somme

1. Wimereux Communal Cemetery

In Wimereux Cemetery, among the graves of the 3,000 soldiers and nurses who died in the British Army field hospitals, lies the final resting place of Lt-Col John McCrae. A Canadian doctor, McCrae was the author of the famous poem In Flanders Fields which he dedicated to those who fell in the Great War. The subsequent popularity of his poem contributed greatly to the poppy being chosen as a symbol of remembrance: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row“.

2. Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

On the 1st July 1916, men from the Newfoundland Regiment, left their trenches and were immediately trapped under German machine gun fire. Half an hour later, only 68 remains unscathed. They suffered one of the highest casualty rates of the 1st July, making this one of the bloodiest actions of the Somme. Thanks to its extremely well-preserved battlefield and trench lines, this commemorative site provides a moving, realistic point of view of the battles in which men from Newfoundland Regiment were involved. (For more information, check Shelley Cameron McCarron’s journal).

3. Thiepval Franco-British Memorial and Visitor Centre

In 1932, the British government decided to erect the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, an imposing 45-metre tall brick and stone monument, designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It is the largest British War Memorial in the world. It commemorates the 72,205 men of the British and South African armies who died or were reported as missing in action between July 1915 and March 1918. (For more information, check Shelley Cameron McCarron’s journal).

4. Courcelette Canadian Memorial

Flers-Courcelette was the Canadian Corps’ first major battle in September 1916. The memorial stands in the centre of a circular park, around which more than ten varieties of maple trees are planted and recorded the simple inscription: the Canadian corps bore a valiant part in forcing back the germans on these slopes during the battles of the Somme Sept 3rd – Nov 18th 1916. The memorial to mark the 11 weeks of bloody fighting by Canadians on the battlefields of the Somme should be sited at the scene of their initial victory in that long and costly struggle. (For more information, check Shelley Cameron McCarron’s journal).

5. Quesnel

The Canadian memorial in Le Quesnel is made of granite from Quebec, and pays tribute to the achievements of the Canadian Corps during the Battle of Amiens, which lasted from August 8 to 11, 1918. It is inscribed: the Canadian corps one hundred thousand strong on 8th August 1918, attacked between Hourges and Villers-Bretonneux and drove the enemy eastward for eight miles. On that first day, the Canadians gained 13 kilometres and captured 5,033 prisoners. This day was considered as «The Black Day of the German Army». The Battle of Amiens continued until August 11.

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