Thiepval: The largest British war memorial in the world. Overlooking the 1916 Somme battlefield the walls are inscribed with over 72,000 names of the missing, British soldiers who have no known grave.


As an historian WW1 has fascinated me for 40 years, it is not my specialism, but it holds my keen interest. This is not an historical tour nor something of grim rememberance. This is a personal reflection of that war, what it meant, what is there now and why we should never forget.

Why is it such a fascination to so many people?

I think the awfulness of it is so difficult to comprehend. There must be hardly one family in Western Europe that has not had a loss in their history from the Great war. It shaped our lives, our families, our nations.

The pages in this section are a brief tour of those battlefields of the western front, a front line barely 250 miles long, where for four years over 13 and a half million men (and a lot of women) were killed or wounded.

So where to start?

The subject is so massive it can have any one of of a dozen "orders of narrative".

So, I wll divide it up, the Western Front, into sections. West to East.

Typically though, the first page will not follow convention!


1:    Beginning and end    Mons

2:   Channel coast      The western end

3:   Ypres     The crucible