The Western Front
The Great War 1914-18
In terms of proximity the battlefields of Flanders and France are inextricably linked. Forming a large swath of the trench system which marked the 'Western Front' this area of fighting absorbed many of the troops the British army sent to France and Belgium. The Commonwealth was committed on a huge scale and of the nearly one million men that gave their lives during this war the majority was on this 440 mile stretch.
Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery is the final resting place of 11,956 soldiers of the Commonwealth, of which 8,369 are unidentified. This is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either World War, with the Memorial to the Missing bearing the names of over 34,000 Commonwealth soldiers, who have never been found.
Commemorating the 1st Canadian Division, the St Julien Canadian Memorial at Vancouver Corner is also known as “The Brooding Soldier” and its magnificence is clear to see standing at 11 metres high. Dedicated to the men who held their position against all odds after the German Army launched the first ever large scale gas attack. The battle started at 1700 hrs on the 22nd April and during the next few days heavy fighting resulted in some 2,000 casualties.
The Thiepval Memorial is the largest British War Memorial in the world, containing the names of over 72,000 British and South African men who died in the Somme and have no known grave. A small cemetery sitting at the feet of the Memorial contains equal numbers of Commonwealth and French burials, recognising the joint nature of the offensive.
Sheffield Memorial Park is dedicated to the men of the British Army's 31st Division who served with the Pals Battalions, the majority of which were recruited from Yorkshire. Communities were devastated as relatives, friends and colleagues served together and often died together. Within the park there are a number of memorials to the various Pals Battalions that fought here, the largest is the brick built memorial commemorating the Accrington Pals, it is constructed from 'Accrington NORI' bricks.
Both sides brought new methods of fighting to the battlefield, including poison gas, flamethrowers and tanks. The battles around the Western Front would claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of men from all sides and the fighting continued right up to the day and hour of the Armistice on the 11th November 1918.
Remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of Belgium and France and discover the stories and the true realities of these battles that reached out and affected an entire generation.