- Lochnagar Crater
- Delville Wood
- Tommy’s Cafe
- Ulster Tower
- Newfoundland Memorial
Tommy Tour 2
Whether you stopped in Albert or have driven here you cannot fail to notice the golden figure of the Virgin Mary which stands on top of the Basilique Notre-Dame des Brébiéres. Take a look in the tour info for further details about the fascinating story relating to the Virgin whilst we continue.
The Musee des Abris is our first call, situated under the Basilique, it is a dark, damp experience, caverns full of artefacts, information and pictures but very well presented, there is a small shop at the end selling cap badges, shell cases etc.
Back to the car and drive to Lochnagar Crater. Started by the 185th tunnelling company in December 1915, Lochnagar was one of 17 mines to be packed with around 6 tones of ammonal and exploded at 0728 on July 1st 1916 – the first day of the Somme, debris rose 4,000 feet into the air creating a hole 90 ft deep by 300 ft across.
Follow the country lanes now onto Delville Wood, on the way you will pass many memorials, stop if you wish and imagine – if possible – 60,000 casualties in this area, in one day……
Delville Wood is a national memorial of South Africa, and the museum behind was unveiled by the widow of General Louis Botha on 10th October 1926.
The museum tells the story of the battle, how a brigade of 3150 South Africans, attached to the Scottish Division, fought hand to hand, in rain, mud and a enemy artillery exceeding 400 shells a minute, tried to take the wood “at all costs”, they did not succeed and the cost was high, only 143 men survived.
Across the way is Longueval, Delville wood cemetery, there are over 5,200 buried here.
By now it must be lunch time? so drive on toTommy’s Cafe, this small cafe not only does excellent food and drink but the visit to the garden is a must.
The owner has spent many years collecting and arranging his own memorial to the war in the form of a large trench dug in his back garden, corrugated tin, shell cases, barbed wire and stuffed rats complete the effect.
In early spring, opening times are very continental!
Take the road opposite the cafe and follow it to The Thiepval Memorial.
Once visited, never forgotten – for me any way – the silence, remoteness and size of this memorial acts as a land mark on the Somme. It carries the names of 73,000 British and South African men, who have no known graves, and fell between July 1915 and March 1918.
In addition to being a Memorial to the missing, Thiepval is also a battle memorial commemorating the Anglo-French offensive on the Somme in 1916.
The area was captured by the 18th division in 1916 but fell again in March 1918, but by the end of the war, Thiepval was in British hands.
Take your time here, walk around, look over the fields, imagine…… if you dare.
On towards the Ulster Tower, this is an exact replica of the tower that stands near the 36th Irish Divisions training ground in Belfast.
From Thiepval wood to the village of Hamel was the operational line of the 36th Ulster Division, and was the sole unit to reach its objective on July 1st 1916. They became trapped here between British rolling artillery barrage and German machine gunners. They lost 5,500 men in a few hours.
Behind the tower in a small museum and cafe along with a small shop selling books etc. Toilets are also here.
Possibly the last stop of the day, you follow the signs to the Newfoundland Memorial Park, this is the National war memorial in memory of the tragic events that took place here on the first day of the Somme.
At 0730 on July 1916 the men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, a volunteer army comprising 801 men went into battle, half an hour later 68 men remained unscathed.
The striking figure of a Caribou greets you, the emblem of the Newfoundland Regiment, and the bronze panels bearing the names of 814 men.
The “ Danger Tree ” is now the petrified remains of a tree that stood in the spot where casualties were high, this tree was to escape the devastation of the war.
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