Le Hamel

The Memorial Park

The original monument was poorly constructed and suffered badly with the weather resulting in its degradation. The site is currently closed (2008) so that a new monument can be installed on the site.

The following short narrative describes the former monument - though the new one appears to be of a similar design and style.

Getting There

If you take a look at the map which accompanies these pages you will see that it is within easy reach of the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

The easiest method to my mind is to take the St Quentin road out from Villers-Bretonneux: N 29.

A kilometre or so along the road you will see a sign for Le Hamel telling you to turn left.

The road is not wide but takes you directly into the village. There is one crossroads where the signs are a bit confusing just keep going straight on. The road brings you down around Vaire Wood.

Once into the village turn right and then left at the village memorial towards Morcourt. Just as you turn left there is a large barn and immediately after this a side road with a sign pointing towards the memorial.

Take this and almost immediately again turn left up a small sign posted track. On the top of the ridge you will find a good parking and picnic area with toilets.

The Australian Memorial
 

The Memorial Park

To the right of the main parking area are a set of panels which explain the basics of the history behind the attack here. Make sure that you read these panels in their correct order or it can become confusing.

Read through each of the panels

You now take the small footpath out through the field (which is private land) towards the monument and trenches. The panels lead you through the preparation of the battle and its execution.

As you walk round there are a number of identifiable landmarks apart from Le Hamel itself. One is on the ridge to the left of the monument, where you can see the tower of the Australian Memorial.

On the skyline behind Le Hamel you will see a tall chimney. This is at the brick works where Manfred von Richthofen was shot down by Australian gunners. It can be accessed by taking the main road out of Corbie towards Bray sur Somme.

Looking towards the Australian Memorial

The Australian Memorial is on the horizon to the left

Looking towards the Richthofen Chimney

Looking towards the Richthofen brickwork's chimney

 

The Wolfsberg

The trenches that you find are part of the Wolfsberg which were taken by the Australians on the morning of the battle. The direction of the attack was from the Australian memorial towards Le Hamel.

Once through the small area of trenches you approach the monument of Australian black granite with its enormous emblem of the Australian Imperial Force.

In front of it are wreaths and on either side are engravings of Monash and scenes from the battle, including tanks and aircraft used to such great effect that day.

On smaller plinths surrounding the complex are mounted the coloured identifiers of all the Australian units.

The Wolfsberg The Wolfsberg

There are three quotations on the monument.

What these men did, nothing can alter now. The good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story will stand. Whatever glory it contains nothing now can lessen. It rises, as it will always rise, above the mist of ages, a monument to great-hearted men; and, for their nation a possession for ever.

C.E.W. Bean The Australian Official Historian.

August 8th was the black day of the German Army on the history of this war...This was the worst experience I had to go through...

General Ludendorff C in C of the German Army

When the Australians came to France we expected a great deal of you...We knew that you would fight a real fight, but we did not know that from the beginning you would astonish the whole continent... I shall go back and say to my countrymen "I have seen the Australians, I have looked in their faces... I know that they will fight alongside of us again until the cause for which we are all fighting is safe for us and for our children."

Georges Clemenceau. Premier of France.

Returning to the car park you will find on the left another small area of trenches that were the subject of an attempted counter attack by the Germans.

 
A field of poppies lies in front of the trenches

A field of poppies lies in front of the trenches. Behind and down in the valley is Le Hamel.

 

Le Hamel: 4 July 1918 Le Hamel: 4 July 1918