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Restoration of Commemorative Icon reaches new heights

15 March 2016

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) restoration of the Thiepval Memorial - the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme - moved a step closer to completion today, Tuesday, March 15, when new flagpoles were installed atop the 45 metre high monument.

The flagpoles - each weighing an astonishing 480 kilos and measuring 12 metres in height - are topped with a British and French crown. The crowns, which have been made anew by master craftsmen in Belgium, are symbolic of Thiepval's role as both a memorial to the missing of the Somme and an Anglo-French Battle Memorial, while the flagpoles have been specially designed to make changing the Union Jack and French Tricolour that fly at the memorial, easier.

The original French crown was destroyed during a lightning strike and the British crown moved into storage for safe keeping. The new crowns are constructed around a steel frame - using a resin made from carbon fibre and epoxy, which is both extremely light and strong. Once complete they were coated with gold leaf. Metal pins, connected to the memorial's lightning conductor, should keep them safe during any future lightning storms.

As the flagpoles were installed, a special ceremony took place to mark the occasion, bringing together all the people who have worked on the project. In Dutch, the celebration when the highest point of a building is reached is called "een hoogstepuntzetting".

Please click here for more information on the restoration of the Thiepval Memorial.