As with the Canadian monument at Vimy Ridge the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel somberly memorializes the dead while preserving the battlefield as it was. This is one of the best preserved sections of the Somme and the extensive grounds and its iconic baying elk make it one of the best memorials of the war. The central focus of the memorial is a bronze elk calling in the direction that soldiers went to attack. On the grounds are other British cemeteries and memorials.
The Thiepval Memorial commemorates 72,000 soldiers who went missing in the battles for the Somme, in addition to 300 British and 300 French graves at the foot of the memorial. The Thiepval Memorial dominates the skyline for miles around and is an imposing building. From a distance I’ve always found it a little bulky, but up close, especially when reading the names, it takes on a more nuanced presence. We must have spent 20 minutes at the monument, not counting our time at the visitor’s center. Again, like so often happened after the first few minutes the quiet of the place took on an all pervading sense of tranquility.
At many of the cemeteries on the trip we saw people looking for relatives. Thiepval was no exception and as you can see in the photos there are people sitting on the steeps looking through the registers.
The following photos are the small monuments we came across as we drove the route. Many of these are small lonely monuments along the side of a road, or in some cases in the middle of a farm field. And a few are tourist traps.
We stumbled on this cemetery in the early morning of our tour of the Somme. The dew was still on the grass and made for a tranquil start.