Somme Centenary – a Memorial for the Missing

100 years ago today was the catastrophic first day of the Battle of the Somme. By 18 November of 1916, over one million men had been killed, captured, or wounded. It was the largest battle on the Western Front during World War I.

The battle of the Somme saw the French and British working together fighting against the Germans. Despite a week of bombarding the German lines leading up to July 1–over a million shells had been fired–the first day of the battle was a disaster. 1 July 1916, was to be the bloodiest day in British military history. One in five men who fought on the first day died. Nearly 20,000 men were killed and over 35,000 were wounded with very limited gains for the Allies.

And this was to set the pattern going forward. On 18 November the British army was given the order to stop, with the Allies having gained only 6 miserable miles since the start of the offensive in July.

At Thiepval there is a memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Standing at 43 meters high, it the Anglo-French Battle Memorial is the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing in the world. Here we look at this impressive memorial to those who lost their lives at the Somme.

A Memorial is built

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,246 missing servicemen who died during the Battle of the Somme.

The Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,246 missing servicemen who died during the Battle of the Somme.
Photo By Mike Fitzsimon

The Architect

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial was built between 1928 and 1932, and was consecrated in 1932. Lutyens was also the architect of the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London.
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial was built between 1928 and 1932, and was consecrated in 1932. Lutyens was also the architect of the Cenotaph on Whitehall in London.
Photo By Sjukmidlands (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Accrington Brick

The monument was originally built using bricks from Lille in France but in 1973 the memorial was refaced using Accrington brick. These bricks are produced in Lancashire, England and famous for their strength - in fact, they are used in the foundations of the Empire State Building.
The monument was originally built using bricks from Lille in France but in 1973 the memorial was refaced using Accrington brick. These bricks are produced in Lancashire, England and famous for their strength – in fact, they are used in the foundations of the Empire State Building.
Photo by By Wernervc (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Stone of Rememberance

In the space at the centre there is a Stone of Remembrance, which is inscribed with over 72,000 names of missing servicemen.
In the space at the centre there is a Stone of Remembrance, which is inscribed with over 72,000 names of missing servicemen.
Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/pikerslanefarm/1788997964/ Amanda Slater 

An Anglo-French Cemetary

In front of the memorial is a cemetery, the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery, which was designed to reflect the joint offensive. It contains exactly 300 British Commonwealth graves and 300 French graves.
In front of the memorial is a cemetery, the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery, which was designed to reflect the joint offensive. It contains exactly 300 British Commonwealth graves and 300 French graves.
Photo from Allan House/MOD, UK

The Cross of Sacrifice

The Cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice inscription reads “That the world may remember the common sacrifice of two and a half million dead, here have been laid side by side Soldiers of France and of the British Empire in eternal comradeship.”
The Cemetery’s Cross of Sacrifice inscription reads “That the world may remember the common sacrifice of two and a half million dead, here have been laid side by side Soldiers of France and of the British Empire in eternal comradeship.”
Photo By Carcharoth (Commons) (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons