Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

World War I Sites, Museums & Memorials

World War I was a global conflict that took place between 1914 and 1918, involving major powers from Europe, Asia, and North America. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary sparked a diplomatic crisis that quickly escalated into a full-scale war with millions of casualties. The war was fought on two main fronts, the Western Front in France and the Eastern Front in Russia. World War I was a turning point in world history, leading to the collapse of empires, the rise of new nations and the adoption of new technologies and tactics that would shape the course of warfare in the 20th century.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is situated on the highest point of Vimy Ridge – the site of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place from 9 to 12 April in 1917. The memorial is dedicated to the memory of the battle and the Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War, as well as those Canadians killed in France during WWI with no known grave. Besides the striking memorial, nearly 40 m high, the memorial site has also preserved parts of the battlefields, including trenches and craters. Visitors can take guided tours of the preserved underground tunnels. A visitor centre outlines the relevance of the site, its history and its significance for Canadians today.

Canadian War Museum

Serving as both a history museum and a place of memorial, the Canadian War Museum focuses on Canada’s military history. Permanent exhibits explore Canada’s involvement in such major conflicts as the Seven Years’ War, the Boer War, the First and Second World War as well as the Cold War. The ‘Early Wars in Canada’ gallery covers First Nations/colonial conflict. The Memorial Hall is free of charge, however there is an entry charge for the other galleries. Both permanent and temporary exhibits draw on collections of some 500,000 items. These range from personal items such as medals to military vehicles and aircraft. Of particular note is the collection of War, which is made up of 13,000 pieces.

Commonwealth War Graves Experience, Arras

In the town of Beaurains, on the edge of Arras, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has their principal workshop, from where British and Commonwealth cemeteries and memorials around the world are maintained. In the Visitor Centre, open to all, free of charge, a series of permanent exhibits explore every facet of the work of the CWGC, from finding bodies who fell during the two World Wars, to the caring for individual gravestones in cemeteries around the world. As well as the exhibits, windows on the workshops allow visitors to see craftspeople performing their work.

Fraternisations Monument

Close to a spot where  French Corporal wrote of the fraternisations between French and German soldiers during WWI is a monument that commemorates these acts of humanity that took place in the midst of inhumane conditions. As they took place, the soldiers knew they would be condemned, it is poignant that there is now a place where such acts are memorialised. Using first-hand accounts and contemporary art, information panels and virtual reality installations tell the many stories of the so-called fraternisations that took place during World War One, particularly on Christmas Eve of 191 and the 1915 winter floods.

History Centre Memorial 14 - 18

Among the Battlefields of Souchez stands the striking museum of black concrete and glass. The black cubes are intended to be reminiscent of blockhouses. Don’t be put off by the austere architecture, the museum uses state-of-the-art techniques to tell the harrowing story of the First World War. Focussing on the Nord and Pas-de-Calais areas, the exhibits draw on a range of historical artefacts, high-quality photos and contemporary film footage. A number of digital, interactive maps allow an understanding of the sheer scale of the conflict in this part of France.

In Flanders Fields Museum

Named after John McCrae’s famous war poem, the In Flanders Fields Museum focuses its attention on the devastation wrought by the First World War. Particular emphasis is placed on the war’s impact in Belgium, where over 600,000 people were killed during the conflict. Located in the historic cloth hall in Ypres, the museum outlines how the city was devastated by artillery bombardment and chemical warfare. Ypres itself was a place of enormous significance as it hosted five separate battles and was one of the locations for the Christmas Truce of 1914.

Naval Memorial Tower

Dominating the skyline at the entrance to the Kiel fjord is a 72-metre high memorial constructed to honour the WWI war dead of the Imperial German Navy. In 1954 it became a memorial for all seafaring nations, promoting peaceful seafaring of all our seas. The tower has an observation deck, open to the public, as well as a memorial hall and an exhibition hall that houses a variety of models of ships and other naval/shipping displays.

Notre Dame de Lorette Necropolis

A prominent hill top with, like Vimy Ridge, commanding views over the surrounding flat countryside was an important natural landmark for a number of battles in 1914 and 1915. What was a temporary cemetery for the French soldiers who fell in the battles of Artois has become France’s largest national necropolis. In 1919 it was decided that the bodies of French servicemen killed in the Flanders-Artois region, who lay buried in 150 different cemeteries, would be reinterred here. Over 42,000 soldiers are buried here. At the centre of the cemetery stands a memorial tower and a basilica.

Ring of Remembrance

An extraordinary circular memorial to all the men and women who sacrificed their lives in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais Departments of France between 1914 and 1918. Over 580,000 names are inscribed on the monument. Their names are listed alphabetically, without favour to rank, position, gender, religion or nationality. The elliptical structure has a circumference of 345 m, 56 of which are suspended above ground. Each aspect of the memorial has a symbolic significance of coming together in peace and international brotherhood.

The National WWI Museum & Memorial

Opened in 1926 as the Liberty Memorial, in 2004 Congress designated the renamed National WWI Museum and Memorial as the  nations official site for remembering and interpreting the events of WWI. It includes the Liberty Tower and a 3,000 square metre exhibit space. Permanent exhibits explore global events from the causes and outbreak of the War to the 1918 Armistice and 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The museums also hosts temporary exhibitions on WWI themes. At the heart of the museum is a collection of over 350,000 objects from all over the world. Although the US’s national WWI museum, the focus of the exhibits is international.

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme has been described as “the greatest executed British work of monumental architecture of the twentieth century”. Construction began in 1928. Four years and 10 million bricks later it was completed at the cost of £117,000, which is the equivalent today of around £10 million. The result is not just a memorial to all those that fought and died on the Somme, but one that acknowledges the British and French alliance during the battle, and perhaps most importantly, it commemorates over 72,000 British and South African soldiers that have no known grave.

Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery

The town of Villers-Bretonneux was captured by the Germans on 23 April 1918. A number of Australian Divisions recaptured the town follows several days of conflict. The cemetery just outside the town has 2,000 graves, 779 of these are named Australian soldiers. Adjacent to the cemetery is the Australian National Memorial, which remembers all the Australian servicemen who died during the First World War in both France and Belgium – particularly those without an identified grave. Officially, and as of 2023, there 10,729 named Australian servicemen on the memorial. Both the Memorial tower and the military cemetery were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

WWI & WWII Memorial

Along a peaceful coastal path, looking out onto the Wattenmeer is a large boulder dedicated to the fallen and missing of both World Wars. German soldiers were stationed on the island in both WWI and WWII. The island was never drawn into the theatre of war during the first war. Many bunkers and batteries were built in the dunes along the west coast during the Second World War, in anticipation of an allied attack here. The few bombing raids by the British did not do much damage.

WWI British Cemetery

Cologne Southern Cemetery was used for Allied prisoners and German servicemen during WWI. In 1922 it was decided that Commonwealth servicemen who had died throughout Germany should be brought together in four cemeteries – Cologne being one. In the following years graves from 180 different burial grounds in Hanover, Hessen, the Rhine and Westphalia were transferred here. Now, there are nearly 2,500 graves of WWI Commonwealth servicemen here, as well as over 130 WWII graves.