Wilfred Owen to the Thiepval Memorial.
With this region of Belgium and France being cloaked in so much history, we’d planned a few stops along the way.
One place Gary really wanted to visit was Ors. During Gary’s High School days, he studied the works of the poet Wilfred Owen, and it was in Ors in northern France that Wilfred Owen lost his life in World War I.
The renowned war poet Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, who had received the Military Cross, was part of the Manchester Regiment.
He fought alongside his fellow comrades at Sambre–Oise Canal, which saw one of the last Allied victories of World War I, prior to the Armistice with Germany.
So bitterly close
Unfortunately, Wilfred lost his life on 4th November 1918 aged 25, one week before the war came to an end at 11am on 11 November 1918.
Wilfred Owen is buried alongside his fellow soldiers in the Communal Cemetery in Ors. Our timing could have been better when visiting here, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was doing a fabulous job of attending to the headstones.
However, Gary managed to take a quick photo before it was given a further clean.
Wilfred Owen spent his last nights in the cellars of this forest house, and from here he wrote his last letter to his mother.
The Forester’s House is now a museum to Owen, and his poetry is projected on the walls inside.
Wilfred’s mother was informed by telegram of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells were ringing in Shrewsbury as a celebration of the end of the war.
We left Ors with heavy hearts; however, nothing quite prepared us for the Thiepval Memorial.
As we turned the corner, the memorial that faces you is incredible. Sitting high above the River Somme, it looks down to where some of the bloodiest battles of the First World War took place.
The memorial commemorates over 72,000 men of British and South African forces, who died during the Somme battles prior to 20th March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those remembered on this monument died between July and November 1916, just five months.
In such a short time
The majority of the almost never-ending list of names died during the Somme offensive of 1916.
It’s so difficult at times to comprehend the extent of the number of men who fell during this horrific time. Then when you see them listed one after another, it’s so heart wrenching.
The Thiepval Memorial can be seen for miles around and stands over 45 metres in height. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world.
Construction began in 1928 and was unveiled by Prince Edward, Prince of Wales on 1st August 1932.
Just beyond the memorial is the Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of 300 Commonwealth servicemen and 300 French servicemen.
All laid out in military precision, most of the headstones were honouring the grave of an unknown soldier.
Inspired to visit Ors & Thiepval??
By basing yourselves at Amiens, not only do you get the chance to visit the poignant memorials but, you can also discover this historic cathedral city.
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