There are a lot of Australian monuments, because the Australian divisions fought on many stretches of the front. The largest memorial is located south of the river Somme, in the area where the Australians pushed the Germans back during the hundred days' offensive in the summer and autumn of 1918.
But the highest tower of all is offered by the US memorial of Montfaucon, commemorating the bitter fighting on the Argonne front.
The main American effort was in the autumn of 1918, when the Germans were pushed out of the Argonne sector. There are many monuments devoted to US troops, but the most magnificent one is that in Montfaucon (above) and the great cemetery further north, at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon. The stones are so white that they seem to shine with their own light.
The American monument area of Romagne is vast, bissected by a French country road (D123), and very impressive.
Below, a view of the US monument at Romagne, seen from the east to the west. The road circles the pond.
The pure monuments are much rarer than the cemeteries, which are usually located on the sites of first-aid posts close to the front line. This picture of British Roclincourt Valley Cemetery (CWCG 329), seemingly offers a view of a country idyll in early spring. In reality, a brand new motorway runs just behind the wall, shattering the quiet of the dead. The cemeteries certainly form part of a living landscape. The woodland in the background is the eastern part of Vimy Ridge, the greater part of which is now Canadian property (a concession from the French people). Even in March, the British lawns are perfectly mown and trimmed.
The whole countryside west of Vimy Ridge is full of cemeteries. At La Targette, the French have dedicated a place for the numerous German fallen - La Targette German Cemetery, here seen when the cherry trees were in blossom. The film I used, a colour negative film of French manufacture (brand unknown), gives both this picture and that above dramatic and poignant qualities that I did not really intend or expect, but they do improve the pictures.
So, what about the French themselves? What do their cemeteries look like? Strangely enough, considering the very impressive sites the French created for the German dead back in the Twenties, their own places, although vast, are rather meagre in execution. The Cimitière national in the picture below, which neighbours CWGC 318 La Targette British Cemetery, is so vast that the concrete crosses, some crumbling with age, form strange geometrical patterns. Every fallen French soldier has his own cross (as do the British, whereas the Germans share their black iron crosses, which usually bear the names of four soldiers, one on each arm, back and front). The lawns do not meet British standards (nor, of course, do the German ones). Like the two pictures above, this was taken on March 24, 2007 (during my very first battlefield tour). Spring brings cherry trees in bloom for the Germans and the French, daffodils for the British.