To protect and promote the spirit and substance of the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens OM
The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval is the largest British war memorial in the world and its brooding presence serves as a sombre reminder of the huge loss of life during World War 1. The Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission had determined that the death of every soldier would be recorded in the battle area where they fell - either via their grave or, if their body could not be found or positively identified, then through a series of Memorials to the Missing. The struggles to take the land in this part of the Western Front are well documented and, as a consequence, a memorial was needed that could accommodate 73,000 names.
Lutyens’s solution to this challenge was a series of 16 square pillars faced with limestone panels for the inscriptions that supported a series of four interpenetrating arches of differing heights. It is a masterful design and shows the architect at the peak of his powers. The original plan was for the memorial to span the road north of St Quentin but objections from the French highway authority and other concerns led to it being relocated to Thiepval, where it forms a significant landmark in the local countryside.
Location: Road D151, Thiepval, France