World War One in focus on your gap year
Gap years are a brilliant way to have fun, experiences new things and unwind. But sometimes it is also enriching and considerate to visit historical landmarks of important events. As this month marks the 100th anniversary of the Great War, we at The Gap Year Travel Guide thought it would be important to highlight the various sites relating to the conflict that one may wish to visit during a gap year in Europe.
The Battle of the Somme is perhaps the most well known of the offensives that occurred during World War One. Sadly, this is due to the massive human devastation that was caused, which is estimated at over 1,000,000 deaths or serious casualties.
To visit the area one must travel 55 miles northeast of Paris, where it is possible to find the ‘circuit of remembrance’, which is a series of various sites of the conflict, as well as memorials and museums. One important site on the circuit is the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Picardy, which is a monument that remembers 72, 195 British and South African soldiers whose bodies were never found. To read more about the places you can visit click here.
Vimy Memorial Park
Dedicated to fallen Canadian soldiers, Vimy Memorial Park is located just north of Arras, France. It includes a memorial that remembers the 60,000 servicemen that fell. Additionally, there is a concrete preservation of the original trenches that allies and the Germans dwelled in during the Battle of Arras. By visiting the site, visitors will be able to gain a small understanding of the conditions soldiers had to go through during their service. To learn more, click here.
Being 300 feet across and 71 metres deep, the Lochnager Crater is one of the best illustrations of the sheer destruction that man caused on nature during the war. It was created after 24 tons of an ammonal mine was detonated near the village of La Boisselle. Richard Dunning, who owns the land, believes the site to be important because:
“People who stand on the lip for the first time, including the thousands of young people, instinctively understand the fearsome power and destruction of modern warfare and, in reading the many evocative memoirs of the soldiers themselves, the terror and vulnerability of those who experienced it.”
Read more here.
The Menin Gate is an arch that was constructed in 1921 in Ypres, Belgium to remember the thousands of servicemen who had to pass through the area en route to battle. Inside the archway, there lies the names of 54,000 men who never returned from battles and whose bodies were never found. Every day at 8pm buglers sound the ‘Last Post’ to commemorate these losses. For more information click here.
Of course, there are many places where one can pay their respects when visiting France and Belgium, and frequenting some of these locations is a fitting way of making your gap year that much more profound.