WW1 Articles

Visiting the WW1 Western Front Battlefields

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres, focal point for many travellers to the WW1 battlefields.
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres

People travel to the First World War battlefields in Belgium and France for various reasons. It may be to visit the grave or memorial of a relative, to attend a special ceremony commemorating an anniversary or battle action, or 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. It should be especially helpful for visitors wanting to make a trip to the battlefields for the first time.

Visiting the WW1 Western Front Battlefields

The Story of the Remembrance Poppy

Moina Michael, “The Poppy Lady”
Moina Michael, the Poppy Lady.

This is the story behind the internationally recognized symbol of Remembrance of the red field poppy. Through the inspiration of one American woman, Moina Michael, this delicate flower has become synonymous with the Remembrance of those who lost their lives in war. Expanding on Moina's idea of the Memorial Poppy it was a French woman by the name of Anna Guérin who developed the idea of using the poppy to raise funds for supporting those affected by war.

The Story of the Remembrance Poppy

Battle Remains on the Western Front

Lochnager Mine crater, Somme battlefield.
Lochnagar mine crater on the Somme battlefield.

An article discussing the sorts of battle remains to be found on the Western Front. This includes bunkers, shell holes, trenches and the assorted ammunition still being dug up by farmers as they plough the fields more than 90 years later.

Battle Remains on the Western Front

Demarcation Stone Monuments on the Western Front

Demarcation Stone monument at Zillebeke on the Ypres Salient battlefield.
Demarcation Stone monument at Zillebeke on the Ypres Salient battlefield.

A series of sculpted stone monuments can be found along the length of the Western Front. They were the idea of French sculptor and veteran of the Battle of Verdun, Paul Moreau-Vauthier, as a memorial to the First World War. The 118 stone monuments are positioned on a line which was the starting point at the launch of the Allied offensive in the summer of 1918 and which was the beginning of the Allies' Advance to Victory leading to the end of the war.

Demarcation Stone Monuments on the Western Front

German Military Burials in Belgium

German military burials in a Belgian churchyard on the Western Front. (1)
German soldiers buried 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 reintered in collecting cemeteries so that the German war dead of 1914-1918 could be cared for on Belgian soil.

German Military Burials in Belgium

War Graves for WW1 Dead on The Western Front

Battlefield burial marked with a cross inscribed as “Inconnu” - unknown. (2)
French 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 for WW1 Dead on The Western Front

Acknowledgements

(1) and (2) Original photographs courtesy of Bridgeen Fox (private collection).