Throughout the war Béthune was exposed to occasional shelling but on 9 April 1918, during the German offensive on the Lys, which ultimately failed, the town centre was methodically destroyed.Only the sixteenth century belfry survived the ‘storm of steel’.

femmes francaises dating-24

I replace Joyful who was destroyed by war, and from the top of this restored belfry, I ring for Peace and to the glory and the future of Béthune rebuilt.’ Photos credits: Go to Etape Run by the Union des Femmes Françaises, an organization similar to the Women’s Institution, the boys’ school served as an auxiliary hospital with 50 beds in 8 August 1914.

Heavy shelling forced its closure three months later.

Photos credits: The 1,200-seat theatre opened its doors in 1912 and was much-appreciated by the British troops.

Situated near the billets in the rear, it was within easy reach for the soldiers and often enjoyed a full house in the afternoon, except on Sundays when it was closed.

In September 1915 the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) moved in.

Throughout the war the school suffered regular shelling which led to evacuations in May 1915 and June 1916.Restoration works officially ended on 6 October 1929 with the inauguration of the new chimes.The tenor bell bears the inscription: ‘VIGILANT IS MY NAME.These regions are home to the many sites that bear the scars of two world wars.The sites commemorate the selfless sacrifice of those who took part and now, thanks to the regional Remembrance Trails, you can discover them at your leisure along local cycling and hiking routes.Each route develops a specific theme and is accompanied by an illustrated guide.