Overview:

It is now nearing a century since the outbreak of the First World War, but people still travel each year to the killing fields of France and Belgium to remember and to commemorate.

Millions of troops were killed on the Western Front, an area of land which stretches from the north of Switzerland in the south up to the English Channel, a little to the east of the port of Dunkirk. A war memorial trail snakes upwards through eastern France and Belgium, roughly following the front line that held fast between late 1914 and the beginning of 1918. One of the most popular destinations on this trail is the French town of Péronne where visitors can find the Museum of the Great War, which is situated just a short distance from the Somme battlefields.

Ypres is another common destination. The Belgian town suffered terribly in three different battles that cost tens of thousands of lives. Today visitors can travel to the ridge of Passchendaele to the east of the city, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the war which is remembered by history as the Battle of Passchendaele.

The battlefields have long been cleared but a poignant sense of sadness lingers still. You can still see the poppy fields, the undulating farmer’s fields and visit the few preserved trenches. It’s a sad trip and a thought-provoking one, but many find it the best way to remember.