This memorial site commemorates the 72,195 “missing in action” British and South African men who died in the Battle of the Somme in World War I with no known grave. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and built between 1928 and 1932, the site is still the largest British battle memorial in the world. Thiepval also serves as an Anglo-French battle memorial to commemorate the joint nature of the 1916 offensive; indeed, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt against the German Army, supported by a French attack to the south — an offensive which lasted for several months in increasingly difficult weather conditions.
The architectural details of the memorial itself are quite complex; shaped in the form of a memorial arch, Thiepval is 140 feet high and comprises interlocking arches of four sizes., while stone piers bear the names of the men who were lost in the Somme battles. Several bodies have been discovered on the battlefield and identified over the years since the inauguration; they were later on transferred to a different memorial after receiving a full military funeral, as the Thiepval Memorial is solely dedicated to missing or unidentified soldiers.