Letter: Somme trivialised

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Sir: I read your report (11 November) about the proposal to build a visitor centre at Thiepval, with some dismay. This year my sister and I visited the memorial there, as our great-uncle, who was killed in the Battle of the Somme, is commemorated on it as one of the "missing". It is an awe-inspiring memorial in a very beautiful place, and I sincerely hope that any future centre will not detract from the solemnity.

I would prefer not to see one built there at all; there is already the museum mentioned in the article, and also one, dedicated to the Battle of the Somme, located in Second World War air-raid shelters in the town of Albert. This is only a few miles away and is mentioned in all the literature of the area, available in local information centres. Visiting it was an enlightening experience.

There is no reason why anyone going to visit the region today, including school groups, should be ignorant of what was involved in the war, or the Battle of the Somme in particular, as there is a huge amount of information available. I find some of the reasons given for needing a centre, such as the provision of toilets, somewhat trivial in view of what went on there.


Wokingham, Berkshire