Whitby High School

Battlefields Tour 22nd-25th March 2013

Lochnagar Crater

Lochnagar Crater


Continuing on the Albert Road, we paused at the Tank Memorial, the Australian Memorial and the Poziers Cemetery. We were now clearly in the area of the Somme battlefields. We would shortly turn onto the west side of the Albert road, but first we took a slight detour to visit the Lochnagar Crater, a stunning reminder of the explosive power available to both sides during the war.

Situated in La Boiselle, the crater was purchased by Richard Dunning in 1978, intent on saving it as a memorial to those who fought there. This is one of the original 1 July 1916 Somme craters. Many others have already been filled in by local farmers and Richard was determined it should be saved.

The blowing of the crater at 07.28 on the morning of 1 July 1916, as well as 16 others, marked the start of the Battle of the Somme. After a lengthy tunnelling operation, two charges of ammonal - 24,000lb and 30,000lb - were laid and set off causing debris to rise some 4,000ft into the air. The resulting crater measured 300ft across and 90ft deep (200ft wide and 81ft deep by 1919).

Initially the crater was in German hands until a successful attack by the Worcesters on 3rd July.

An annual ceremony takes place every year at the wooden cross at the crater's edge on 1 July to commemorate the first day of the Somme offensive.

Crop marks still reveal the route of trenches and the pitted landscape caused by shells.

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Updated April 2013 by Mike Royden