Delville Wood South African National Memorial

Longueval, France

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 Turner. It consists of a flint and stone screen either side of an archway, with a shelter at each end of the screen. On top of the arch is Turner's bronze statue of two men and a war horse. The two male figures, symbolising Castor and Pollux, represent the two white races of South Africa (British and Afrikaans).

This memorial also serves as the national memorial to all those of the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force who died during World War I. A total of some 229,000 officers and men served in the forces of South Africa in the war. Of these, some 10,000 died in action or through injury and sickness, and their names are written in a memorial register that was kept at this memorial, and is now kept at the nearby museum.

The campaigns commemorated here include the East African Campaign and other campaigns outside the Western Front, but the location of the memorial marks the role played by South African forces in the Battle of Delville Wood (part of the Somme Offensive), the first action seen by the forces of South Africa in Flanders and France. Other battles commemorated here, include the participation of South African forces at the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele. Later in the war, South African forces fought a rearguard action at Gauche Wood and Marrieres Wood during the German spring offensive, and held their position at Messines Ridge. During the Advance to Victory, they fought at the Battle of Beaurevoir and at Le Cateau, and were 'furthest East of all the British troops in France' when the Armistice was declared.

Unlike the other national memorials to the missing raised to commemorate the part played by Dominion forces on the Western Front in World War I, this memorial has no names inscribed on it. Instead, the names of the missing dead of South Africa were inscribed on the battlefield memorials to the missing, along with those of the dead of the United Kingdom.



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Founded: 1926
Category: Statues in France

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User Reviews

Jc Frejya (41 days ago)
This is a beautiful beacon for a horrid period in human history. Rest in peace all sons and sisters who laid down their own life for freedom. Let us not repeat history, especially with the darkness hanging over EU and in particular ??.
gav perry (5 months ago)
An absolute must visit for the history buff or the casual visitor to the Somme. Situated in the heart of Delville Wood at Longueval the walk down the avenue of oaks to memorial is stunning. The memorial and trails around the Delville Wood is very informative. To the memory of the fallen. Lest we forget ❤️ ?
Donae Walker (7 months ago)
Before visiting this museum, I knew very little about the involvement of South Africans in WWI. The museum was eye-opening, very detailed, and well kept. The images and stories preserved here moved me to tears. A must-visit if you are in the area and have even the slightest interest in World War I.
Rob Ferris (7 months ago)
Great place to visit, any of the memorial sites to the great war are always moving this one is worth the visit.
Ben Steyn (11 months ago)
Well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area, even if you have no interest in the 1st World War. Beautifully kept museum and wood that’s so peaceful, harrowing to think what it was like back in 1916. The museum portrays the history of a modern South Africa and would make any other fellow South African proud.
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