Western Front Tourist's Guide
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Memorial. A replica of Statue of Liberty is atop the monument.
THE WESTERN FRONT - A CHECKLIST
Extraordinarily memorable sites are indicated by an asterisk [*].
A. Belgian Sites of August 1914 preliminaries
1. Liege Forts
2. Nieuport and Yser Canal
3. Namur Citadel
Site of the 1914 Battle
British Memorial to start and finish of war at La Bascule
Many other Belgian and French Lorraine locales have statues or
monuments, but they are so remote they do not justify a special
trip unless you have a specific interest in the action fought
there. There are, however, some fascinating sites to visit in
Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Nieuport along the coast and the Belgian
trench sector north of Ypres.
B. From the English Channel to Compiegne
1. Ypres Salient
[Maps spell it "Ieper"; Tommy Atkins called it "Wipers".]
Visit Cloth Hall first to see the "High Tech" Flanders Fields Museum and to
a. Many battlefields sites to visit but do not miss:
Hell Fire Corner
Hill 62 / Sanctuary Wood Museum
[Best preserved trenches]
The Hooge Crater and Museum
Tyne Cot Cemetery at Passchendaele
German Cemetery at Langemark
b. Menin Gate
* Daily 'Last Post' Ceremony at 8:00 PM
c. Messines & Environs
Town Museum including Hitler water color of church
Typical mine crater near Spanbrokemolen
Ploegsteert Wood Memorial -
Near where Churchill served
2. De Lorrette Heights / Arras Vicinity
a. Notre Dame DeLorrette Cemetery, Ossuaria & Museum
* b. Canadian Vimy Ridge Monument and Memorial Park
Try to schedule a tour of the underground tunnel network.
c. Dud Corner, Loos
d. Indian Memorial at Neuve Chappelle
e. St. Quentin Canal captured by Australian & US Forces
Digger Statue at Mont St. Quentin
3. Near the Somme in Picardy
Battlefield maps available in all the towns
a. Sites Near Albert;
* Newfoundland Park / Beaumont Hamel [close]
Theipval Ridge Mnt To Missing/Ulster Division Mem.
Locknagar Mine Crater
Welsh Memorial at Mametz Wood
Tank Memorial at Pozieres Ridge
Tommy Statue at Flers
* Delville Wood, South African Memorial
b. French Great War Museum at Peronne
c. Sites Near Cambrai
Battle of Cambrai Tank Action
Canadian Memorial at Bourlon Wood
d. 1918 Sites
Australian National War Memorial at
American Monument at Cantigny
4. Armistice Glade - Compiegne
* Armistice Railroad Car
C. The Paris Area
1. Les Invalides-French Military Museum
2. Arc de Triomphe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
* Daily Relighting of Eternal Flame: Ceremony at 5:00 PM
3. Hall of Mirrors at Versailles Palace
4. Lafayette Escadrille Chapel
THE WESTERN FRONT - A CHECKLIST (continued)
D. From the Aisne/Marne Region to the Swiss Border
1. Aisne/Marne Region
Battle maps hard to find locally here. I recommend xeroxing
the Marne Battle maps from a WWI history or atlas and then
transferring the appropriate data to your road maps.
a. 1st Battle of the Marne Sites
Gallieni Monument [Hard to Find]
b. Battle of the Marne Monument; 1 mile n. of Meaux
c. Retreat from Mons Memorial at La Ferte S. Jourarre
Plan a picnic here along the River Marne
d. Chemin Des Dames Area
Small Museum on Chemin Des Dames
* Notre Dame Chapel
Caverne du Dragon
British Memorial To Missing
US 28th Division Monument at Fismes
e. Chateau Thierry/ 2nd Battle of the Marne Sites
* Belleau Wood / Aisne/Marne Cemetery [close together]
Hill 204 US Memorial
US Memorial Chapel at Chateau Thierry
Mezy - "Rock of the Marne" location [No monument]
Site where 3rd Division turned back last German
Offensive of the war - 3rd Div. Monument is in ChT.
2. Champagne Region
a. Reims and Vicinity
b. French Navarin Farm Monument and Ossuaria
c. Blanc Mont Ridge US Monument - North of Somme-Py
d. Monuments to Black 369th & 371st US regiments that served
under French Command [Hard to locate; near west
boundary of Argonne Forest.]
3. Argonne Forest and Vicinity
Detailed Maps for Meuse/Argonne, Verdun & St. Mihiel avail.
Carefully plan your tour routes here:
Site of Lost Battalion at Charlevaux Mill
Sgt. York Monument - Chatel Chehery
* Butte de Vacquois
Cheppy - Missouri Monument
[Site of Harry Truman's service]
Museum in Town Hall
In Vicinity: Crown Prince's Dugout
Montfaucon US Monument
* Romagne-en-Argonne US Cemetery
Get a detailed battlefield map at visitor's center in Verdun
but don't miss:
a. In Verdun:
* Citadel - Where France's Unknown Soldier was selected
Verdun Victory Monument
Children of Verdun Monument
Rodin "Call to Arms" near RR Station
b. On Left Bank of Meuse and Environs:
Voie Sacree Monument
c. On the Right Bank:
Faubourg Pave National Cemetery
Andre Maginot Monument
Wounded Lion Monument marking German high water mark
* Memorial Museum
Col. Driant's Command Post and Tomb
5. St. Mihiel Salient
Point X and Les Esparges Spur
1st Division Monument at Vignuelles
Mont Sec US Memorial
US Cemetery at Thiacourt
6. Vosges Mountains - Near Belfort
Requires special trip; not recommended unless you have a
particular interest in the opening stages of the War.
Jonchery - Monument to War's 1st casualty, Cpl. Peugeot
"Old Armand" [Hartsmannwillerstopf]
Cemetery and Memorial
Battle of the Windmill Memorial at Montreux-Jeune
near Hill 62
Salient as it appears today.
TIPS FOR THE WESTERN FRONT TRAVELLER
A. If you travel to the Western Front and wish to guide yourself you
1. Michelin road maps;
2. Specific maps for the battlefields (usually available at key
towns like Verdun, Ypres and Albert or Amiens; tourist boards can also
3. A quality accommodations / restaurant guide book that includes
B. Optional but helpful:
The detailed tour itineraries and maps available in:
1. BEFORE ENDEAVORS FADE by Rose Coombs: order from Imperial War
2. AMERICAN ARMIES AND BATTLEFIELDS IN EUROPE: order from US
Government Printing Office.
C. If you wish to locate an individual's grave write the following:
1. AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION, Casimir Pulaski Bldg.,
20 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20314
2. COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES COMMISSION, 2 Marlow Road,
Maidenhead, Berkshires SL67DX, U.K.
3. VETERAN AFFAIRS CANADA, 66 Slater St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A
D. Safety and Comfort Issues
1. Shoes are very important. They need to be comfortable, have
waterproofing, and sturdy soles to protect the bottoms of
feet. Watch out for barbed wire, especially.
2. Stay out of No Access "Red Zones"
3. Try to have a travelling companion; if not, don't go
wandering off the beaten track
4. Don't poke the soil looking for souvenirs and remember that
wild boars are carnivores
5. Ordinance is still being found on the battlefields and
is often seen on the sides of roads for pickup by disposal
units. DO NOT TOUCH THIS STUFF.
6. If you lunch at a French country restaurant [a highly
recommended practice] watch your alcohol consumption.
7. Don't change hotels every nite; you will exhaust yourself.
Good "base" cities include Ypres, Albert, Chateau-Thierry and
8. Occasionally, Monuments and former military facilities are
on private property. The owners permission should be
sought before entering.
9. Be ready for rain any time regardless of the daily
10. At counter-type restaurants, you will see a beautiful
sausage that's whitish with pepper spots. Do not order it
unless you REALLY love tripe.
TIPS FOR THE WESTERN FRONT TRAVELLER
D. Maximizing the Experience
1. Guides can be hired at almost all the key towns. They can
be outstanding, but vary tremendously. Consequently, you
will have to pay your money and take your chances, if you
wish to go this route, keep your checklist handy, so your
guide doesn't overlook something important.
2. Around every major battlefield, there are little treasures
that never make guidebooks or official sources -- private
museums, a bunker now being used to grow mushrooms, a
family's private memorial to a fallen son, and so forth.
The way you discover such "treasures" is to talk to the
English-speaking locals. The people who work at the US
and Commonwealth Cemeteries are walking gold mines of such
information. Stop at the guest house at every American
cemetery and say hello to anyone you meet at the British
maintained sites. Also be on the look out in hotels and
restaurants for displays of artifacts and memorabilia.
Such collectors usually know their local areas cold and
are willing to share their discoveries.
3. Join forces with fellow battlefield tourists. You will
meet some during your jaunts. In the evening, ask at
your hotel where such travellers like to relax. On the
Western Front, Ypres around the Grande Place is
unsurpassed for pubs and evening socializing thanks to its
proximity to the British Isles.
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