As with the region close to Ypres, there are many cemeteries, time and again down very small, muddy roads. My 1st intended destination was the Hawthorn Crater. This is one of the mines that was detonated underneath the German front line at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. The explosion was recorded on film and is routinely shown in documentaries about the Battle of the Somme. After driving around the area for a while, I came across the Newfoundland Park Memorial & Visitors Centre and pulled over to have a look.
It was a part of the British and Canadian Lines on 1st July 1916 when the Battle of the Somme commenced. Some of the trenches are very well preserved and from the Caribou Monument, you can get the perfect understanding of the terrain and the course of attack. It is also frighteningly obvious how far the troops were expected to advance over open space facing of cannon and machine guns.
At Newfoundland Park, I was given directions which helped me to find the Hawthorn Crater and so it transpired I’d driven right past it. It wasn’t long until I arrived back and found the access point via a fairly muddy field. To start with I was hesitant but decided it’s a part of the experience. I got to the side of the crater but it was very over grown so I didn’t venture too far and I was quickly 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 which is the biggest British War Memorial on the planet. Each 1st July, a significant ceremony is held here in memory of the dead. The tower can be seen from quite some distance and addititionally there is a motivating visitors centre with information 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 peaceful and appropriate. I’m not really sure what made Delville Wood stand out for me but for me, there was just something a lttle bit special about this spot.
My final stop of the day was a short one at the site to the east of Amiens where the Red Baron was shot down. There isn’t actually much to see except for a little notice board by the side of the road. The site is situated by a local factory with a prominent chimney. The story of the Red Baron is one of the 1st I heard about concerning The Great War so whilst there wasn’t very much to see, it was something that I wanted to do. The Red Baron was a German air ace called Baron Manfred von Richthofen. From 1916 – 1918, he shot down a total of 80 Allied aircraft and was eventually shot down but ground fire from an Australian unit on 21 April 1918.