DELVILLE WOOD
SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL MEMORIAL

The South African National Memorial: The central avenue of Delville Wood Cemetery is continued across the Longueval- Ginchy road by a new grass road, in a wide clearing, running Northward into Delville Wood; and across the clearing, at the top of a low rise, is the South African Memorial to those South Africans who died in the Great War. It is a flint and stone screen, with a shelter at each end and in the middle an arch, surmounted by figures of a horse and two men (representing the two races of the Union) in bronze. It was unveiled by the widow of General Louis Botha on the 10th October 1926, a day otherwise memorable in South African history. This Memorial does not bear the names of any dead; those of the South African dead are recorded in the same cemeteries, or on the same memorials, as those of the Corps and Regiments from the United Kingdom. But it is fitting to refer to the outstanding facts which this Memorial recalls: to the conquest of German South-West Africa in six months by South African troops; to the conquest of German East Africa by a South African Commander at the head of an Army mainly South African; and to the great record of the South African Brigade in France and Flanders. In Delville Wood the three Battalions employed in the capture and defence of the Wood were all but completely destroyed. At Arras and at Passchendaele, in April and September 1917, they successfully overran the enemy defences. From Gauche Wood and Marrieres Wood, in March 1918, some 400 transport men and details came back, and the German tribute to the rearguard fighting of the 9th Division is well known. On Messines Ridge, in the following month, they stayed the enemy advance by counter-attack and held the position until the reserves had come up. At Beaurevoir and Le Cateau, in October 1918, they successfully dislodged the enemy from positions in which he was strongly posted; and on the 11th November 1918, they were furthest East of all the British troops in France. The Union sent out on service, during the Great War, 229,000 Officers and men. Of these, some 10,000 were killed in action or died of wounds or sickness; and their names are written in a book to be kept at the Delville Wood Memorial, on the site where their first great sacrifice was made.

Visitors Information

Longueval is a village 11 kilometres east of Albert. Delville Wood is east of the village and on the south side of the road from Longueval to Ginchy. The South African National Museum is well signposted from the N17 at Bapaume.

The Memorial is located in the centre of Delville Wood, with a large Museum to the rear, built in the late 1980s, which follows the story of the South Africans from WW1 to Korea. Car parking facilities, free public toilets and picnic facilities are available close to the Longueval - Ginchy road, and are signposted. There is also a shop here which sells books, postcards, souvenirs, drinks and snacks. Euros and Sterling accepted. Open every day except MONDAY, from 10.00 until 17.45 in the main season (April-October), and 10.00 to 15.45 otherwise. Closed mid November (around the 11th) to early/mid February. Entrance to the museum is free.

 

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The Last Remaining Tree of the original wood. View down one of the main rides. Original trenches in Delville Wood. View of memorial from main entrance.

 

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