In the remembrance room of Lens' 14-18 museum, you can use tablets to consult databases of the nearly 580,000 soldiers, of all nationalities, who fell in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Their names are engraved on the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette International Memorial, which lists all the soldiers who died, were buried or commemorated within the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments during the First World War.
The databases have been provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ; the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional council (for the French), whose information comes from the French Ministry of Defence’s Directorate of Remembrance, Heritage and Archives; and the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge. Less information is available for German soldiers, owing to the destruction of archives during the Second World War.
Using this data, you can find out everything about any given soldier: his date and place of birth; where he was recruited, his regiment and his rank; the date, place and cause of his death; as well as his place of burial, provided all of this information is known.
The Ring of Remembrance is located at the summit of the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette plateau, opposite to the biggest of all French National War Cemetery.
The International Memorial commemorates the names of the 579,606 soldiers, of all nationalities, who fought and lost their lives on the soil of Nord and Pas-de-Calais.
Inaugurated on 11 November 2014 and designed by the architect Philippe Prost, this elliptical memorial was inspired by the circles children make in their games and designed as an open book in homage to the soldiers who fell in our region. It is an object of great aesthetic and symbolic power, evoking the mass death which occurred on the battlefields of this region between 1914 and 1918. Part of the structure uses a cantilever overhang to symbolise the fragility of peace.
Soldiers’ names have been inscribed in alphabetical order, with no mention of nationality or religion.
Among the names engraved on the memorial are those of François Faber, winner of the 1909 Tour de France; John Kipling, son of the poet Rudyard Kipling; Joseph Standing Buffalo, grandson of the Indian chief Sitting Bull; Hans Dülfer, the German alpinist; and Paul Mauk, the youngest German soldier enlisted.
It is easy to check if a name you know is included and to locate it on the memorial using the app : app-anneaudelamemoire.nordpasdecalais.fr.
The welcome team is on hand to help you research your family or locate a tomb or memorial within the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.
A footpath links the Lens’ 14-18 museum to the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette International Memorial and war cemetery. The walk takes around thirty minutes. To get there by car is five minutes.