WW1 Articles

Battles of the Western Front 1914-1918

Aerial photograph of the Ypres Salient battlefield near Ploegsteert, taken in May 1917.
Aerial photograph (28-u-15-abcd-12-05-17).

An overview of the major battles which took place in Belgium and France from August 1914 to the 11 November Armistice of 1918. The outcome of the battles in the autumn of 1914 resulted in the formation of a battle front from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. Three subsequent years of attrition warfare took place during 1915, 1916 and 1917, with only a few months of mobile warfare at the start and at the end of four years of fighting.

Battles of the Western Front 1914-1918

Battle Remains on the Western Front

Preserved battle remains of the Lochnager Mine crater, Somme battlefield.
Lochnagar mine crater on the Somme battlefield.

An article describing the types of battle remains to be found on the Western Front. This includes craters, bunkers, shell holes, trenches and the assorted ammunition still being dug up by farmers as they plough the fields or construction workers digging foundations.

Battle Remains on the Western Front

Trace a WW1 British Soldier

Corporal Thomas Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Cpl T H Parker, RWF.

Advice to get you started if you are looking for a British soldier who served in the First World War.

Trace a British Soldier

War Graves on the 1914-1918 Western Front

Battlefield burial marked with a cross inscribed as “Inconnu” - unknown. (1)
Unknown soldier buried in Belgium on the Western Front.

From the early weeks of the fighting on the Western Front the number of war dead was already rising into the tens of thousands. This text gives the background to the burial of military dead in individual marked graves from the 1914-1918 war and why, ironically, so many of the casualties are still recorded as “Missing”.

War Graves on the Western Front

German Military Burials in Belgium

German graves in a Belgian churchyard on the Western Front. (2)
German graves in a Belgian churchyard on the Western Front.

By the end of 1918 there were thousands of German soldiers buried in 678 districts of Belgium. This article explains why they were exhumed and reinterred in collecting cemeteries so that the German war dead of 1914-1918 could be cared for on Belgian soil.

German Military Burials in Belgium

The Remembrance Poppy

Poppies on the 1916 Somme battlefield.
Poppies on the Somme battlefield.

The story behind the internationally recognized symbol of Remembrance of the red field poppy. Through the inspiration of two women, the American Moina Michael and the Frenchwoman Anna Guérin, this delicate flower has become synonymous with the Remembrance of those who lost their lives in war.

The Remembrance Poppy

Visiting the Western Front Battlefields

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres/Ieper, a focal point for many travellers to the battlefields.
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres

Your reason for wanting to visit the battlefields may be to visit the grave or memorial of a relative. You may wish to attend a special ceremony commemorating an anniversary or battle action. It may be to learn more about the people who lived through the experience of this most devastating war. This article offers advice and suggestions for travel with an organized tour or as an independent traveller. Our links point to information within our website and other useful external links. We hope it will be especially helpful for visitors wanting to make a trip to the battlefields for the first time.

Visiting the Western Front Battlefields

Acknowledgements

(1) and (2) Original photographs courtesy of (the late) Bridgeen Fox, Colin Fox Collection.