LOCHNAGAR MINE CRATER, LA BOISSELLE

The largest British mine crater on the Western Front, this was one of several mines exploded under the German front line positions on the Somme on 1st July 1916. A charge of 60,000 lbs (26.8 tons) of Ammonal explosive was blown at 7.28am resulting in a crater 90 feet deep and 300 feet across. Lochnagar Crater, named after the trench from where the main tunnel was started, is now owned by Englishman Richard Dunning. He saved it from being filled in 1978, and now each year on the 1st July a ceremony is held here to remember men of all sides who fell on the Somme in 1916. 

Units of the 34th Division attacked this area and the nearby village of La Boisselle on 1st July. This formation contained two whole brigades of ‘Pals’ battalions – the Tyneside Irish and the Tyneside Scottish. They suffered many casualties that day – five battalions losing over 500 men each. Indeed the whole division lost 6,380 that day. 

Cecil Lewis, then an officer in the Royal Flying Corps, witnessed the explosion of the mine on 1st July from his aircraft high above La Boisselle: 

“ The whole earth heaved and flared, a tremendous and magnificent column rose up into the sky. There was an ear-splitting roar, drowning all the guns, flinging the machine sideways in the repercussing air. The earth column rose higher and higher to almost 4,000 feet."

 

Visitors Information

Lochnagar Mine Crater is located south of the village of La Boisselle, on a minor road. In the village on Rue de la 34 Division follow the Somme Tourist signs for 'La Grande Mine'; at the fork in the road towards Bécourt take the left hand road and follow to the crater. There is parking directly in front of the site.

The Friends of Lochnagar maintain the site, and have a website.

 

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Renovated entrance to the site. View of the mine crater. Tyneside Memorial Cross. 1920s postcard of the crater.

 

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