01 October 2010

The Rancourt memorial in the Somme

When I went with CHM to Péronne last July, we stayed in a hotel in the village of Rancourt. It's very small, with fewer than 200 inhabitants.

The Chapelle du Souvenir near the village of Rancourt (Somme)

Rancourt was a key site during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Many died, and there are French, German, British, and South African military cemeteries all around the village. The largest French military cemetery anywhere is the WWI memorial there, with 8,566 graves.

The French military cemetery at Rancourt

The memorial was founded and built at the initiative of a woman from New Orleans whose son had died in the battle for Rancourt. She formed a committee right after the war and organized the construction of a Chapelle du Souvenir — a Remembrance Chapel — in honor of her son and his comrades in arms.

Views at dusk from my hotel room window at Rancourt

The hotel we stayed in was just a mile or so up the road from the memorial. One of the things I liked about it was the view of sheep and goats out of the window of my room.


  1. It's impossible not to be moved by those cemeteries. They serve to remind us how tough life was almost a century ago and that we have so much to be thankful for.

  2. Even though Belgium ad Luxembourg were invaded and occupied by the Germans, it was mostly in Northern France that the most deadly battles occurred. All these cemeteries are a very sad proof of that. Péronne, in the heart of the Bataille de la Somme, was more than ninety per cent razed.

    In the late thirties, you still could see a lot of ruins around, twenty years after the end of the Great War!

  3. mmm being from NO myself, this is tres interessant....a lovely area too...thx for posting...wonder what the womans name was

  4. Somme is sad to think about, but there is peace in the photo of the sheep and the goats. Thanks for these photos.

  5. Melinda:
    Her name was Marie Mathilde Johnston (1857-1919). Her son was a French citizen, Jean Du Bos (1890-1916)


  6. Just lovely! Look at that countryside!

  7. Tried to comment this morning but "service unavailable". I was reminded of That Sheep May Safely Graze by these lovely pictures. My mother in law always told me the story of being in the living room of her home in Hungary with her brother and sisters building card houses. Her father walked in the room to tell them that war (WWI) had been declared and her mother jumped up exclaiming, "War! IN Europe! In the 20th century! Impossible".

  8. Coming from Australia where we have never experienced fighting a war on our own land it is difficuly to imagine the terror of invasion. Of course our indigenous population would not agree with this observation and would rightfully argue the invasion and occupation has been going on for over two hundred years. We will be arriving in Saint Aignan today and would love the chance to catch up and talk through your impressions of this place.

  9. Hi Ann, I hope you enjoyed the market in St-Aignan this morning. We didn't make it down there because we have visitors this afternoon and were busy preparing.

    Can you send me an e-mail and we'll see if we can find a day to get together. I'm kenbroadhurst at gmail dot com.


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