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  >  Trip 2023   >  World War I Battlefields of Northern France

Upon leaving Paris, we picked up a rental car and drove to Northern France, to visit some of the World War I battlefields. We focused on the trenches around the Somme battlefields, since this is home to both the Canadian war memorial at Vimy Ridge and the Newfoundland memorial at Beaumont Hamel. In addition to their status as official memorials, both Vimy and Beaumont Hamel provide a vivid picture of how the trenches would have looked during battle. At Vimy, the trenches have been reconstructed with concrete “sandbags”, while at Beaumont Hamel, they have been allowed to grow grassy green, with some moderate supports to keep their basic structure intact. Both locations are staffed with earnest young Canadians who gave us informative tours and patiently endured many, many questions from the children. (“But how much did a shell weigh, exactly?“). We rounded out the information from the visitors’ centres with a stop at the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne, and visits to two of the larger French and German cemeteries in the area. It was a poignant few days in the French countryside.

The proud, defiant caribou of Newfoundland looking out over the frontline at Beaumont Hamel. 780 men of the Newfoundland Regiment advanced at 8:45am on July 1, 1916. The next day, only 9% were available for roll call.
“Mother Canada” mourning over the tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Vimy Ridge.
Exploring the reconstructed trenches at Vimy. The front lines here were barely 25 metres apart.
The WW1 museum in Peronne
One of the best exhibits in the museum was this layout of the typical equipment carried by the soldiers of each army (here showing the French soldier)

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