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Experiencing the Centenary
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France > Picardie > Somme > 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

Mémorial de Thiepval
© D.R.
Image locale (image propre et limitée à l'article, invisible en médiathèque)

The centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 is a major event in the commemorative agenda of 2016. This commemoration, essential to the remembrance of France and the nations of the Commonwealth, will also be an opportunity to recall the participation of French forces during this battle.

Commemorative tourism in the region of the Somme 

From July to November 1916, the Somme became the site of a vast battle; three million soldiers of twenty different nationalities clashed on a frontline of no more than 28 miles.

Today the former battlefield has become a major memorial site in the commemoration of the Great War. Maintained by the Circuit du Souvenir, the area offers multiple locations of historic importance. Visitors can discover the traces of a war that once spawned across the globe. Cemeteries, the Museum of the Great War and memorials all honour the memory of the soldiers of the First World War, and primarily those of the former British Empire.

The important commemorative role that these memorial sites play even today is proven by the fact that 75% of all visitors have an international background, with half of these being British.

The commemorative season "Somme 2016"

In cooperation with the local department, the centenary of the Battle of the Somme will initiate a cultural season holding both scientific and educational significance. Marking the centenary of the first day of the battle, the ceremony on the 1st of July 2016 at Thiepval, jointly organized by the British and French governments, marks the beginning in a series of commemorations in 2016. In conjunction, a wide variety of events, supported by local authorities as well as national and international cultural actors, will enable the public to commemorate this battle across the year.

Commemorative ceremonies of “Somme 2016” :

April 25th, 2016

ANZAC Day: Ceremony at Villers-Bretonneux. This ceremony is held each year in memory of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, landing at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915 and distinguishing themselves at the battles of Picardy in 1918. Three years later to the day, Australian and New Zealand forces liberated Villers-Bretonneux on April 25th, 1918.

1 July 2016

  • Thiepval : Franco-British ceremony marking the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Thiepval Memorial is dedicated to all British and South African soldiers that fell between July 1915 and March 1918 and who have no known graves on the battlefield. At the foot of the memorial, a Franco-British necropolis holds the bodies of 600 French and British soldiers who fell during the Battle of the Somme.
  • Rancourt : French ceremony honouring the French armies participation at the Battle of the Somme.
  • Ulster Tower : Commemorative ceremony giving tribute to the soldiers of the 36th division who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • Beaumont-Hamel : Commemorative ceremony honouring Canadian veterans, especially the Newfoundlanders, who fell on the battlefield.
  • Fricourt : Commemorative ceremony at the German cemetery of Fricourt
  • Guillemont : Irish ceremony honouring the soldiers of the 16th Division.

July 2, 2016

Canadian ceremony at Courcelette.

July 10, 2016

South African commemoration at Delville Wood.

July 19, 2016

Australian ceremony at Formelles honouring the soldiers killed at the Somme in the summer of 1916.

July 23, 2016

Australian commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Pozières.

September 15, 2016

Ceremony at Longueval and Caterpillar Valley commemorating New Zealand’s involvement during the battle of the Somme.

To inform the public of all commemoration concerning the Battle of the Somme, the website somme14-18.com, administered by the regional council of the Somme, will provide additional information and offer practical advice to those wishing to visit the battlefield of the Somme.