A Full Day In The Area Around The Somme

A Full Day In The Area Around The Somme

Much like the area around Ypres, there are countless cemeteries, usually down very small, muddy roads.

My 1st intended destination was the Hawthorn Crater. This was one of the mines which was detonated beneath the German front line at the start of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The detonation was recorded on film and is mostly shown in documentaries about the Battle of the Somme. After driving around for a while, I found the Newfoundland Park Memorial & Visitors Centre and pulled over there.


This is a part of the British and Canadian Lines on 1st July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme began. Some of the trenches are well preserved and looking out from the Caribou Monument, you are able to get a fantastic idea of the terrain as well as the path of assault. It's also frighteningly obvious the distance the troopers were expected to move over open ground in the face of cannon and machine guns.

At Newfoundland Park, I was provided directions to help me locate the Hawthorn Crater and as it happened I had gone right past it. It wasn’t very long until I got back and found the access point along a very muddy field. Initially I was hesitant but decided it's part and parcel of the experience. I got to the side of the crater but it really was very over grown so I didn’t venture too far and I was soon on my way to my next port of call, Ulster Tower. This is a memorial to the Ulster Regiments who performed so well on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.


Nearby is the Thiepval Memorial that is the largest British War Memorial in the world. Every 1st July, a big commemoration is held here to honour those who died. The memorial can be seen from quite a distance and there's also an interesting visitors centre with details about the battles fought here.

Not far away is the South African Memorial at Delville Wood. The memorial was dedicated to all South African battles, not only those in The First World War. As with all the memorials, Delville Wood is sacred ground but I found this place in particular to be very serene and appropriate. I’m really not sure what made Delville Wood stand out to me but for me, there was really something a little distinctive about this place.


My final stop of the day was a brief one at the site to the east of Amiens where the Red Baron was shot down. There isn’t really much to see aside from a little notice board by the side of the road. It is found by a local factory with a notable chimney. The story of the Red Baron is one of the very first I was told about relating to The First World War hence even though there wasn’t much to see, it was something that I wanted to do.

The Red Baron was a German fighter ace called Baron Manfred von Richthofen. From 1916 - 1918, he shot down a total of 80 Allied planes and was eventually shot down but ground fire from an Australian unit on 21 April 1918.