Escorted Rail Tours to Lochnagar Crater
Discover the story of this vast WWI man-made crater in the Somme, France
A selection of our battlefield tours visit The Lochnagar Crater at La Boisselle. This small village in the Somme region of Picardy, Northern France, is a startling reminder that some of the most dangerous military operations of the First World War took place not on the battlefield, but beneath it.
For both the German and Allied forces, mining was an important strategy with military units dedicated to tunnelling beneath enemy defensive positions and strongholds with the aim of detonating sufficient quantities of explosives beneath them in order to destroy them.
By 1915, mining and underground fighting between opposing forces had become commonplace around La Boisselle. Between November 1915 and March 1916 a tunnel was dug from the Lochnagar Street Communications Trench, behind British lines, to a point just thirty metres from the German trenches. Here the tunnel forked, each fork ending in a large chamber. Between them, the chambers were packed with 60,000lbs of explosives.
At 07.28 on July 1st 1916 the Lochnagar mine was detonated along with sixteen other mines, resulting in the significant weakening of German defences. British forces captured the area forty-eight hours later.
The Lochnagar Crater is the largest British mine crater on the Western Front. Today, preserved as a war memorial, it receives more than 200,000 visitors each year and is an important stop on any tour of the battlefields and memorials of the Somme.