Well it’s been awhile since I have shared some sights from our Western Front trip but I was just so excited to tell you a little about Ireland that I couldn’t resist. Today though, we’re headed back to France to visit two more memorials for the Great War- Lochnagar Crater and Delville Wood.
As described on the website the crater is “The largest crater ever made by man in anger is now a unique memorial to all those who suffered in the Great War. It is dedicated to peace, fellowship, and reconciliation between all nations who fought on the Western Front“. And it is truly a unique memorial.
The crater was formed by the largest of 17 mines that exploded on July 1, 1916 when it was packed with 60,000 lbs (27,216 kg) of ammunition by the British Army that sent debris flying 4000 ft (1200 m) in the air and made the, what was then, loudest man-made sound in history. It blasted a crater in the ground that was 300 ft (91 m) across and 70 ft (21 m) deep and destroyed up to 400 ft (122 m) of German dug-outs which are thought to have been full of German troops.
Read More: 1st July 1916 Mine Explosions
Since July 1, 1978 the crater has been privately owned by Richard Dunning whose aim is to preserve it for future generations as a ‘Garden of Remembrance‘. A group of dedicated volunteers called the ‘Friends of Lochnagar‘ give their time, money, and effort to keep the site maintained. Since the site isn’t government funded the group does take donations in order to help with the upkeep that is needed as nearly 200,000 people visit it annually, but it will always remain a non-profit site.
With its historical significance, and as the final resting place of the remains of many German, French, and British soldiers, this is definitely a site worth adding to your own trip to the Western Front.
Delville Wood is a national memorial to all South Africans who served in war, and the only memorial dedicated to their participation in World War I on the Western Front. There were 229,000 who served in WWI, with approximately 10,000 who died in action or later from their wounds sustained in combat. The names of these 10,000 soldiers can be found in a memorial book in the Delville Wood Museum, but the names of those missing in action are included on memorials to the mission of the United Kingdom, such as Thiepval and the Menin Gate.
The memorial is very beautiful, and much bigger than we had anticipated. The memorial itself is set at the end of a long avenue that leads in from the main entrance. Along both sides of the avenue are two rows of oak trees that were planted in the 1920’s from acorns growing on a tree in South Africa. The grounds were pretty much cleared during the war but one lone hornbeam tree survived. Now protected this, the ‘Last Tree’, continues to grow despite its trunk holding shards of artillery shell casings.
The whole Delville Wood area marks the place where battalions of the South African Brigade came under German artillery fire in their attempt to capture and then defend the wood in July 1916. Both the wood and the battalions were almost completely destroyed which leaves the wood as the final resting place for hundreds of soldiers.
Read More: The very informative Official Website of Delville Wood with History, Poems, and Visitor Information (in French and English)
“Their ideal is our legacy. Their sacrifice is our inspiration.”
Open daily; no set visitor hours
Entrance is free but donations can be made online
Address: D20, Route de la Grande Mine, Ovillers-la-Boiselle, 80300
Parking: Free on-site but there isn’t a lot of parking. Please do not park on the private land around the crater.
There are no toilet facilities at this site.
Full visitor information can be found here.
Opening Hours: Early February to early April/ Mid-October to late November from 1000 to 1600 and Early April to Mid-October from 1000 to 1730. Closed December and January
Entrance is free but donations are accepted.
The Commemorative Museum and toilets are closed on Mondays.
Address: Route de Ginchy, Longueval 80360
Parking: Free on-site