World War I War Memorials in France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a war memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for Canadian soldiers of the First World War killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave. The monument is the centrepiece of a 100-hectare (250-acre) preserved battlefield park that encompasses a po ...
Founded: 1936 | Location: Vimy, France

Thiepval Memorial

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,337 missing British and South African servicemen who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918, with no known grave. A visitors' centre opened in 2004. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, Thiepval has been described as the greatest executed British work of monumental architecture of the twentieth century. The Memorial ...
Founded: 1932 | Location: Thiepval, France

Notre Dame de Lorette

Notre Dame de Lorette, also known as Ablain St.-Nazaire French Military Cemetery, is the world"s largest French military cemetery. It is the name of a ridge, basilica, and French national cemetery northwest of Arras at the village of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire. The high point of the hump-backed ridge stands 165 metres high and - with Vimy Ridge - utterly dominates the otherwise flat Douai plain and the town of Arras. The ...
Founded: 1914 | Location: Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France

Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I. The 74-acre (300,000 m2) preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful attack on 1 July 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The Battle of the Somme was the regi ...
Founded: 1925 | Location: Beaumont-Hamel, France

Pozières Memorial

The Pozières Memorial is a World War I memorial, located near the commune of Pozières, and unveiled in August 1930. It lists the names of 14,657 British and South African soldiers of the Fifth and Fourth Armies with no known grave who were killed between 21 March 1918 and 7 August 1918, during the German advance known as the Spring Offensive, and the period of Allied consolidation and recovery that followed. The final d ...
Founded: 1930 | Location: Pozières, France

Douaumont Ossuary

The Douaumont ossuary is a memorial containing the remains of soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun in World War I. During the 300 days of the Battle of Verdun (1916) approximately 230,000 men died out here. The battle became known in German as Die Hölle von Verdun (The Hell of Verdun), or in French as L'Enfer de Verdun, and was conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometer ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Douaumont, France

Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery

The French handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 during the World War I and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917. The Commonwealth section of the Faubourg d"Amiens Cemetery was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulan ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Arras, France

Australian National Memorial

The Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux is the main memorial to Australian military personnel killed on the Western Front during World War I. It is located on the Route Villiers-Bretonneux (D 23), between the towns of Fouilloy and Villers-Bretonneux. The memorial lists 10,773 names of soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force with no known grave who were killed between 1916, when Australian forces arrived i ...
Founded: 1938 | Location: Villers-Bretonneux, France

Delville Wood South African National Memorial

The Delville Wood South African National Memorial is a World War I memorial, located in Delville Wood, near the commune of Longueval. It is opposite the Delville Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, on the other side of the Longueval–Ginchy road. The memorial was unveiled on 10 October 1926. It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, assistant architect was Arthur James Scott Hutton, with a sculpture by Alfred ...
Founded: 1926 | Location: Longueval, France

Montsec American Monument

The World War I Montsec American Monument is located on the isolated hill in Montsec. This majestic monument, commemorating the achievements of the American soldiers who fought in this region in 1917 and 1918, dominates the landscape for miles around. It commemorates reduction of the St. Mihiel Salient by the U.S. First Army, September 12-16, 1918, and operations of the U.S. Second Army, November 9-11. It also honors comb ...
Founded: 1932 | Location: Montsec, France

Wellington Quarry

20 metres below the pavements of Arras is the Wellington Quarry, a site immersed in memory and emotion. In November 1916, the British started preparing for the 1917 spring offensive. Their stroke of genius: to have the New Zealand tunnellers connect up the town’s chalk extraction tunnels to create a real network of underground barracks large enough to accommodate up to 24,000 soldiers. After a 20-metre descent in a glas ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Arras, France

Soissons Memorial

The Soissons Memorial is a World War I memorial located in the town of Soissons. The memorial lists 3,887 names of British soldiers with no known grave who were killed in the area from May to August 1918 during the German spring offensive. The battles fought by those commemorated here include the Third Battle of the Aisne and the Second Battle of the Marne. This is a free-standing memorial (one without an associated ceme ...
Founded: 1928 | Location: Soissons, France

Verdun Memorial

The Verdun Memorial is a war memorial to commemorate the Battle of Verdun, fought in 1916 as part of the First World War. It is situated on the battlefield, close to the destroyed village of Fleury-devant-Douaumont. It was built during the 1960s, financed by Maurice Genevoix and has been open to the public since September 17, 1967. It remembers both French and German combatants as well as the civilian populations lost du ...
Founded: 1967 | Location: Douaumont, France

Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial

The Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial is a World War I memorial in France, located on the outskirts of the commune of Neuve-Chapelle, in the département of Pas-de-Calais. The memorial commemorates some 4,742 Indian soldiers with no known grave, who fell in battle while fighting for the British Indian Army in the First World War. The location of the memorial was chosen because of the participation by Indian tro ...
Founded: 1927 | Location: Neuve-Chapelle, France

Somme American Cemetery and Memorial

The 14.3-acre (58,000 m2) Somme American Cemetery and Memorial is a war cemetery established in October 1918 on ground which saw heavy fighting just before and during the Battle of St Quentin Canal. It contains the graves of 1,844 of the United States" military dead from World War I. Most lost their lives in the assault on the Hindenburg Line while serving in American II Corps attached to the British Fourth Army. Oth ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Bony, France

Courcelette Memorial

The Courcelette Memorial is a Canadian war memorial that commemorates the actions of the Canadian Corps in the final two and a half months of the infamous four-and-a-half-month-long Somme Offensive of the First World War. The Canadians participated at the Somme from early September to the British offensives end in mid-November 1916, engaging in several of the battles-within-the-battle of the Somme, including acti ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Courcelette, France

Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial

The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial is an American military cemetery in northern France. Plots A through D contains the graves of 6,012 American soldiers who died while fighting in this vicinity during World War I, 597 of which were not identified, as well as a monument for 241 Americans who were missing in action during battles in the same area and whose remains were never recovered. A graveyard for former s ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Fère-en-Tardenois, France

Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial

The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is a 52.8 ha World War I cemetery in France. The cemetery contains the largest number of American military dead in Europe (14,246), most of whom lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and were buried there. The cemetery consists of eight sections behind a large central reflection pool. Beyond the grave sections is a chapel which is decorated with stained glass ...
Founded: 1918 | Location: Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.