The Village of Guillemont
View from Above
Click above for larger aerial view of the Village
Guillemont during the Great War
German Soldiers in the Village
Guillemont is now primarily a peaceful farming community, however, during the Great War, it was one of the most important strategic areas during the second phase of the Battle of the Somme, having been captured in 1914 by German Forces, who fortified the village with deep trenches and tunnel systems which to this day, many still exist beneath buildings and fields.
Guillemont Halt itself, which, we believe, was used by the Germans as a possible command post, has an underground entrance/exit leading from the cellar of the house to the farm next door (See the following page ‘Our own Dugout) for further information.
The village was fiercely fought over towards the end of July 1916 until its final capture on 3 September 1916 by soldiers from the 20th Light Division and an attached brigade from the 16th (Irish) Division.
The village was razed to the ground during the First World War and was re-built mainly during the 1920’s. During the renovation of Guillemont Halt, we found newspaper pages concealed within the house dated 1927, which we understand is the year the re-build of the property was completed on the site of the original building.
16th Division Cross Inauguration Guillemont 1926
16th Division Memorial Cross
Main French War Memorial
28 August 1914 French Memorial
The village is home to memorials to both Allied and French Armies:
16th (Irish) Division Memorial Cross
Main French Memorial
28 August 1914 French Memorial
20th Light Division Memorial
Jersey Pals Memorial
Private Family Memorial to Second Lieutenant George Futvoye Marden-Smedley (see below)
A visit to Guillemont is not complete without a visit to our Church, which houses a roll call of French villagers, many of whom were related, whose ancestors still live in the village, who gave their lives during WW1 along
with memorial plaques dedicated to the 47th Brigade, part of the 16th (Irish) Division and the Liverpool Regiment who fought here.
As a gesture of reconciliation, the villagers have remembered in the
church, by way of a portrait, and also by renaming one of the village
roads after him, the famous German soldier and writer, Ernst Jünger,
(notably he wrote Storm of Steel) who was stationed in Guillemont
during some of the heaviest fighting.
We are key holders of the church and are always happy to take
Guillemont Halt guests on a quick guided tour of the church during their
stay at the house.
There is a private family memorial dedicated to Second Lieutenant George Futvoye Marsden-Smedley, The Rifle Brigade, in one of the fields behind the village.
Further information on George can be found here
VCs in Guillemont
Six Victoria Crosses were awarded for actions in 1916 in and around Guillemont. The names of the recipients were:
George Evans, 18th Bn Manchester Regiment
Gabriel Georges Coury, 3rd Bn South Lancashire Regiment
Thomas Hughes, 6th Bn Connaught Rangers
John Vincent Holland, 7th Bn Leinster Regiment
David Jones, 12th Bn Liverpool Regiment
Guillemont Road Cemetery
Guillemont Road Cemetery Entrance
Headstones honouring the 8 Believed to be Buried
Guillemont Road Cemetery, was originally a field cemetery which when closed in March 1917 contained 121 burials. The cemetery was greatly increased following the armistice when graves (almost all of July-September 1916) were brought in from the battlefields immediately surrounding the village and certain smaller cemeteries. The cemetery now contains 2,263 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 1,523 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to eight casualties known or believed to be buried among them.
Notable burials in the cemetery are that of Lieutenant Raymond Asquith, 3rd Bn Grenadier Guards, Son of the Prime Minister of the time, Herbert Asquith, and Second Lieutenant William Alexander Stanhope Forbes, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, Son of the artist Stanhope Alexander Forbes, founding member of the late 19th Century and highly influential Newlyn School of Painters.
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, Guillemont Road Cemetery is situated 500m from the village, on the D64 in the direction of Montauban. Further information on Guillemont Road Cemetery can be found here.