The Somme – A Photographic Tour
This photographic tour guide outlines how to get to and what to see at some of the key locations on the Somme battlefield. It is not meant to be a comprehensive guide of every memorial, cemetery or pillbox - I recognise that most people may only have a day or a weekend to explore the area. This guide details the locations that I consider offer the best combination of historical significance and things to see for the modern battlefield visitor.
To assist the tourist unfamiliar with the area I have included a map for each location. Here's an interactive map, showing all locations:
Click and drag to move the map. Use the slider to zoom in/out.
It would be realistic to assume that the vast majority of British visitors will bring their own transport and I have primarily written the guide with this in mind. If the visitor has a more lengthy stay in mind, then cycling or walking the area are options. Walking can offer the visitor the chance to discover parts of the battlefield that might be easily missed in a car. However, from my experience, driving from site to site followed by walking each location is the best way to see as much of this sector as possible.
As with many other parts of the Western Front, the Somme was the scene of conflict throughout most years of the war. Whilst the area is most commonly associated with the infamous Battle of the Somme in 1916, it also saw significant fighting in 1914 and twice in 1918 when the German Spring Offensive swept westwards across the region to threaten Amiens and was pushed back again by the dramatic counterattacks launched by Haig's BEF in what was to become known as "The Hundred Days". This photographic tour concentrates on the 1916 battle – future war walks will focus on the later offensives.
Unlike many other battlefields in France where the action was concentrated into a smaller area (such as Verdun) or along an "A to B" axis (like the Normandy Beaches), the action on the Somme took place across a fairly wide swathe of territory. This leaves the tourist with the problem of deciding the best route to take to visit each place of interest. Following numerous visits to the battlefield I have suggested a route, which makes the most sense chronologically, balanced against avoiding unnecessary backtracking and diversion. This starts from the Sheffield Memorial Park at Serre on the northern extreme of the battlefield and follows a rough south and then easterly arc along the 1st July frontline before sweeping back west and then north-west across some of the sites that were to feature heavily in later phases of the battle. The tour finishes at Thiepval where Sir Edwin Lutyens' Memorial to the Missing dominates the skyline.
All the locations can (at a stretch) be seen during the course of a two-night stay in Arras, St. Quentin or Amiens. Although to get the most out of each site a three-night stay is recommended. Arras is ideal for the first night as it is closest to Serre, whilst Amiens and then St Quentin are perfect for the second and third nights respectively. The locations are numbered to reflect the most sensible route around the sector for a visitor. For a chronological history of where each location fits into the story of the fighting that took place here in 1916, please click on the links to The Somme – A Brief History.
- Sheffield Memorial Park and Serre
- Serre Road CWGC Cemetery No 2
- The Sunken Lane
- Newfoundland Memorial Park
- Along the Thiepval Ridge to Pozières
- Pozières British Cemetery and Memorial
- La Boisselle
- Norfolk CWGC Cemetery
- Devonshire CWGC Cemetery and the Fricourt to Montauban Battlefield
- Mametz Wood
- Trônes Wood and Guillemont
- Delville Wood
- Caterpillar Valley CWGC Cemetery and New Zealand Memorial to the Missing
- London CWGC Cemetery & Extension and High Wood
- The Offensive Grinds On: To Flers and Butte de Warlencourt
- The Ancre Heights: Desire Trench
- The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing