New College of the Humanities

Forget-Me-Nots on the Western Front

A new museum and tours dedicated to the battles of the Somme

A few miles from the killing-fields of the First World War in Northern France, a new museum is taking shape, offering a radically different way of looking at, in its words, 'the agony of an epoch which gave birth to the contemporary world'.

The Historial de la Grande Guerre is due to open its doors this month, as the culmination of a six-year programme initiated by the Conseil General de la Somme. It is an imaginative attempt to create a museum interpreting the memorials and battle sites that dot the countryside in an area which provided the backdrop for what has been called the 'bloodiest day in the history of the British Army'. On July 1st, 1916, the abortive attempt of Haig's troops to break the stalemate of trench warfare and relieve the pressure on the besieged French at Verdun, left over 28,000 British and Commonwealth troops dead or missing in one day on the Somme battlefields.

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