Home Page Belgium and Franch Battlefields Somme Battlefields in France Gallipoli Battlefields Verdun and Other Interesting Battlefield Sites About this project

Somme Battlefields

The Somme lends its name to the major British battle which began here on 1st July 1916, partly to divert German attention away from Verdun. It is an area of plateaus, rolling hills and wheat fields, not as some imagine a flat muddy plain near to the Somme River. In fact the name refers to the French Department of the Somme and not the River. The British troops were rarely even near to the river.

The soil appears a rich brown colour and has lumps of grey glassy flint through it. Where drains are dug, white lumps of chalk are brought to the surface. The white chalk would have made any trench lines or shell craters highly visible. The highway seems to follow a plateau and there is a gradual slope all the way from Bullecourt to Albert. It is a bucolic scene of red brick villages with tall church bell towers, green fields, clumps of trees and brown cultivation. There is little to remind one of past wars except the frequent cemeteries with manicured green lawns and rows of white tombstones. In fact, the entire countryside in this region was completely ravaged as every metre was bitterly fought over several times during the Great War. Then everything was put back so that it appears as if nothing ever happened. Even the buildings look old.

Drain showing the white chalky soil of the Somme
A drain near Hardecourt showing the white, chalky soil of the Somme.

The following panoramic tours will give some idea of the country of the Somme:

1. Pozieres and other sites of interest. This was the location where Australians fought in the Battle of the Somme. There were more Australians lost here than in any other place during World War One. There are 13 panoramas to be viewed.

2. Newfoundland Memorial Park Even though the Anzacs did not fight on this particular battlefield, it is the only intact preserved battlefield of the Somme. As such it represents all the battlefields. One can see the dispositions of the original trenches, the cratered ground and the distance the soldiers had to travel over no-mans-land. There are 12 panoramas of this battlefield.

3. The Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux. The Anzacs turned a serious German offensive here in April 1918 by recapturing this strategic village near the important city of Amiens. The people of Villers-Bretonneux have a large sign in their Primary School which says 'Never Forget Australia'. There are 4 panoramas in this set.

Home I Flanders I Somme I Gallipoli I Verdun I About
Peter Morrissey 2009