We saw SOMME battlefields

Ricky Zheng
Sun, 02 Jul 2017 04:07 PM

After breakfast we boarded our coach and met our tour guide . On the way to the battlefields we were given a brief overview of the origins and causes of WW1. We learned that the popular view that the war started when arch-duke Ferdinand was shot was actually faulted and that the real cause was that the new German empire wanted a quick war in which to gain prestige, money and national pride.

First, we visited the lochnager memorial where British forces dug under German trenches and set of explosives as a distraction for an attack on the German trenches. This left a massive crater and sent earth flying 3000 feet in the air.

After we visited the Newfoundland regiment memorial where forces from Newfoundland fought during the battle. The Newfoundlanders suffered the worst casualties of the battle, at 80%. The memorial was a large patch of land purchased and maintained by the Canadian government in which there were preserved trenches and shell-holes for us to explore.

After this, we visited the first cemetery of the day, a sizeable plot just a few kilometres away from the Thiepval cemetery. This, along with the other sites was a humbling experiences for the boys and the individual messages on the tombstones were especially poignant, they really drove home the individuality of the soldiers and the fact that each of these men had left behind their lives and families, never to see their homeland again. Mr Kenny's relative was among the men buried here and our group took a moment to pause with him and remember, while our guide recited the ode.

We climbed back aboard the bus, and our group drove to Poziere's ridge, which was the location of the Australian troops during the battle of the Somme. During the drive our guide filled us in on the role Australians had to play in the Somme. When we arrived at the town of Pozieres we disembarked at the obelisk shaped memorial and were able to see the old German bunker next to it.

After a lunch of baguettes, chips and soft drinks we hit the road again, this time to check out the windmill which Australians had fought over during the battle of Pozieres ridge. Our guide informed us that that spot was the place where the most Australian blood had ever been spilled. There were two monuments in that place, one was a tank monument and one was a monument to the windmill, by the time we got to the windmill all that was left were some foundation stones in the ground.

Our next stop was the German cemetery which we were informed had contained the remains of the Red Baron before he was repatriated to Germany. Seeing the German memorial was a stark contrast for the boys, with as many as four men to a single grave and many more men packed into a smaller area than the Allied cemeteries and all of the men bar some received wooden crosses, rather than the white headstones used by the commonwealth.

We stopped by the Victoria school museum where we saw a range of artefacts which included uniforms and propaganda posters.

Finally we visited the Adelaide, Le homes and Australian memorials before heading back to Amiens for dinner. Each memorial its distinct feature such as housing the first Australian commander, a common place for all 5 divisions and the site where the unknown body in Canberra was taken from.

 

James Triantafilis and Ricky Zheng

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