• Somme Banner 1

Somme Battlefields

All students of 20th Century history will have their studies enhanced by a visit to the World War 1 battlefields of the Somme. All the major sites in this area have created museums, visitor centres and reconstructions to commemorate the suffering endured and to educate people of the horrors and consequences of war.

Sample Itinerary

Given the proximity of the Somme Battlefields to Calais, most studies can be completed in a four day, three night visit.

Day 1

Travel via the short sea crossing at Dover / Folkestone.

Visit en-route at Vimy Ridge Memorial and trenches.

Day 2

A day with a guide to visit the crater at Lochnagar, Mouquet Farm, Thiepval Memorial and Beaumont Hamel preserved trenches. End the day with a visit to the 1916 Somme museum in Albert.

Day 3

Half day visit to Peronne and the Historial Museum.

Half day in Amiens with a visit to the Cathedral and its tower.

Day 4

Travel home via the coastal route with a visit to perhaps a bakery or sweet making demonstration.

Visits And Excursions

Each group will have its own special interests and curricular needs. That’s why every visit can be completely tailored to you. You’ll find some suggestions below, but you can always call us to discuss more options.

Rondo Recommends:

A - Art & Architecture | C - Culture | G - Geography | H - History | L - Leisure | P - Performing Arts | Sc - Science, Tech & Engineering | G - General Tourist Attraction

Albert

Albert

H

Within easy walking of the town centre is the ‘Somme 1916’ Museum. This museum is based in what was originally the crypt of the basilica; a space used as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War. Students can discover what life was like in the trenches with compelling displays, collections of original uniforms, weapons and equipment rescued from the battlefields.

Peronne

Peronne

H

In Peronne, you will find the main museum dedicated to the First World War. Known as the ‘Museum of the Great War’ (or ‘The Historial’), it gives an objective representation of the lives and suffering of the French, British and German soldiers. The museum runs through its archives of 56 wartime news films showing all aspect of the campaign throughout the conflict. A comparative understanding of the War is enhanced by pictures, artefacts and accounts of both military and civilian life.

Lochnagar Crater

Lochnagar Crater

H

In La Boisselle, a vast crater in open farmland was left by a tremendous explosion at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. Hundreds of metres of tunnels had been dug secretly and at the site of the explosion was a huge chamber, just ahead of the battlefield where the explosives were placed. Since July 1978 the crater has been in private hands. It is administered by a trust and preserved as a memorial to those who suffered in the First World War. It is dedicated to ‘peace, fellowship and reconciliation between all nations’ and is a humbling sight that emphasises the sheer destructive power of the war.

The Franco-British Memorial At Thiepval - (Click for more information)

History

The Somme Memorial at Thiepval was erected in 1932 by the British government and contains the names of over 72,000 British and South African soldiers missing in action between July 1915 and March 1918. Over 90% of the men remembered on the memorial died in the Battle of the Somme between July and November 1916.

The names of the lost soldiers are carved into the stone of the 45 metre high pillars of the Luytens designed monument, where the arch represents the alliance between France and Britain.

The cemetery laid out in front of the memorial contains equal numbers of British and French soldiers to once again represent the alliance and the shared loss.

Since 2004 the Thiepval visitor centre has provided an invaluable resource for historians and those tracing lost members of their families. The history of the war and the memorial are displayed along with 3 ten minute films and a model of the memorial.

Rancourt - (Click for more information)

History

The chapel here is known as the ‘Souvenir Français’ or French Remembrance. It was built by the du Bois family to commemorate their son and his comrades who fell on Sept 25th 1916. A private Association looks after the monument.

Rancourt is also the site of the largest French cemetery in the Somme, housing the remains of some 8500 soldiers.

The ANZAC Memorials

History

The Australian National Memorial

Rancourt was the site where the Australians finally stopped the advance of the Germans in April 1918.

It was here that the huge Australian Memorial was inaugurated in 1938 and has since been the site of the annual ANZAC day commemorations.

The Australian Memorial of Le Hamel

This park has been laid out by the Australian government to commemorate the involvement of 100,000 Australians in the war. This site was when they were led to victory by General Monash in the first combined operation of infantry, artillery and tanks that became the model for future modern warfare.

The New Zealand National Memorial - (Click for more information)

History

The New Zeland National Memorial is is located at Longueval which is the site of the first objective of the New Zealanders at the start of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The Caterpillar Valley Cemetery where New Zealanders are buried is only a few minutes’ drive away.

The Canadian Memorial - (Click for more information)

History

This is the Newfoundland Monument at Beaumont Hamel and commemorates the participation of the Newfoundland Regiment in the Battle of the Somme. They had some of the highest proportional casualties, losing 86% of their men in the opening day of skirmishes in July 1916.

This monument offers the only opportunity in the Somme to walk through the original trenches. The interpretation centre here concentrates on the Newfoundland Highlanders and their home country.

Extended Study

History

It is possible to extend the scope of World War 1 studies by moving on to either Ypres or Verdun (or both).

Our visits to this area are usually based in the town of Albert. This is central to most sites of interest and offers a purpose built accommodation for school and study groups. Spread over three floors in the Poppies Albert, each group has its own self-contained accommodation unit. Each unit includes a recreation area with games and a/v equipment, and all rooms have en suite facilities. The dining room serves breakfasts only. Packed lunches can be provided and evening meals are arranged with local restaurants in the nearby town centre.