July 1916. The First World War has begun 2 years earlier when starts the Somme battle. It will last 5 months, the 18th November 1916, with a terrible result. The British and French armies have won a few kilometers vs the German army but the battle has ended up with 1,2 million casualties (dead, disapeared or wounded). This makes it the deadliest battle during the First World War
The Somme Battle was the biggest battlke of the First World War. More than 4 millions soldiers participated to the battle. The 2 main countries involved were Great Britain and Germany. They lost 420.000 and 450.000 men during these 5 months. Because of the Commonwealth involvment, men from the other side of the world came to die on the Somme battlefields. This battle was a turning point during the WWI. It was the first apperance of the tanks, the english army moved from a volunteer army to conscript army and the Germans changed their stargtegy to a more defensive one. On the Frenche side, Verdun has been the main battle, for British and Germans, the Somme battle is the one that left terrible memories. That’s why so many memorials and cemeteries have been built in our region.
From 30 minutes to one hour driving from campsite Château les Tilleuls, you can discover some of the important places of the Battle of the Somme. A remembrance trail drives you from Péronne to Albert. This trail follows the tracks of the soldiers, through battlefiled and past cemeteries and memorials to commemorate WWI soldiers.
Even if it is the further from our campsite, I would advice you to start your discovery tour of the Somme battlefields with the Historial de la Grande Guerre at Péronne. This museum is dedicated to the war through its different faces : the frontline, of course, but also the life of civilians at wartime and especially women, the culture at wartime, etc. The other interesting point with this museum is that it is not focused on the french point of view but on different protagonists’ point of view : Frenchs, Britishs and Germans.
More classical, the Albert Museum Somme 1916, is closer to Château des Tilleuls. It is focused on the life of soldiers in trenches during the Somme battle. You can see life size reconstitutions of what was the daily life of soldiers. Its goals is to give a human dimension to the war. At the end of your visit, a sound and light show that put you in a trench, at night, while the shells are falling all around you.
Except the museums, you can visit several Memorials along the Somme frontline. Among the most spectacular and moving ones, you should have a look at the Thiepval Memorial dedicated to the English and South-African. The name of 72.000 dead soldiers are written on it. They disapeared in the Somme between 1915 and 1918 but 90% of them were victims of the Somme battle. It gives a vibrant tribute to men from every social origins, from 15 to 60 years old. But the average age is 25 ! That gives us a good idea of the impact of this war on a generation of young men. Since 2016, a museum and an interpretation center have been added to the Memorial. The museum is focused on the battle of the Somme in 1916.
This year, because of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, ceremonies will take place in the Somme in 2018 and especially in November. On the www.somme-battlefields.com website, you’ll find a calendar with the events and ceremonies in the region in 2018. Because of the anniversary, Château des Tilleuls will stay open longer this year so you can stay on our campsite on November 11th.