March 29, 2024

Dominique Zanardi, Musée de le Bataille de la Somme / Battle of the Somme Museum

this image from the Facebook-account of
Le Tommy, Café du Souvenir

At first glance, the building in the image above looks like an average café-restaurant, but upon closer inspection one sees that it not only bears the name Le Tommy, but is also referred to as Musée 1914-1918. 

The building is located in Poziéres, a village with a few hundred inhabitants in the Somme region in the north of France. More than a hundred years ago, this part of France was hit by the First World War, which in the Somme area was mainly a trench war. However, around Poziéres from 25 July to 7 August 1916 the war turned into a gigantic battle that led to many deaths and almost completely destroyed the village.

In the Somme area there are numerous memorial monuments and cemeteries dedicated to this war, Dominique Zanardi, owner of the café-restaurant, has made in his own way a special contribution to this series of places dedicated to memories of World War I.

a view of the area behind the cafe that was transformed in trenches
this image and the next six are screenprints from the 
first video in the documentation

Life and works

Zanardi was born in the early 1960s in Albert, a town located 7 km south-west of Poziéres. This city also houses an official Museum about the war in the Somme area.

At the age of twelve he started exploring the fields where the war had raged, in order to collect scraps of metal, which he sold to the local scrap dealer. That's how he got money to buy a nice moped.

On his trips through the former war zone he met visitors from England, who told him about the war that had raged there. They showed him the cemeteries and told him about the soldiers who belonged to their family. 

Young Dominique, who had learned some English at school, became increasingly proficient in speaking English and he got first-hand information about what had happened during those war years.

After his younger years he would continue to avidly collect items reminiscent of the war in the Somme region. Shovels, pieces of grenade, other ammunition, rifles, cannons, it became an extensive collection.

He went to work in the world of cafes and restaurants. The most important moment came in 1995. when he, around 35 years old, took over the Café de la Victoire, which had existed in Pozières since 1922.

Reopened in 1996 as Café-restaurant Le Tommy, this place, where visitors were welcome, offered him every opportunity to do something with his collection of memorabilia relating to the Somme war.

The indoor space became partly a museum about the war and the outdoor space was transformed into a faithful replica of a trench area.

The trench area

The four photos above and the three below give an impression of the outdoor area at the rear of the café-restaurant, where the world of the war is depicted on a life-size scale.

The image at the very top shows that the terrain is so extensive that the trenches, which include both those of Germany and those of the Allies, with no man's land in between, can be depicted realistically.

The next two images show a cannon and the collection of thousands of grenade casings, meticulously stacked together along a wall. The use of grenades during the battle in and around Pozières was very intense, sometimes 140 grenades fell in a single minute.

The next image of a soldier with a gun shows how much Zanardi was able to portray this person realistically. The barricades made of coils of iron wire in the following image also demonstrate this ability to express the reality of trench warfare.

Finally, the two images around give an impression of the way in which the trenches themselves are depicted. 

Here too, one is struck by the specific feelings of constriction that the creations convey.

The interior

The image below shows part of the interior of the museum attached to the cafe-restaurant. The walls are filled with gigantic black and white photos of soldiers and there are all kinds of weapons.

The bar in the the cafe-restaurant is standing on grenade casings.

Visitors from Australia

The group of Allied soldiers stationed near Pozieres during the Somme war, was part of the Australian army, which means that many of the visitors to the Café-restaurant/Museum are from Australia.

a view of the interior
image from the Facebook page of Le Tommy

* Article (January 2018) in journal Ouest-France, with pictures of the site
* Article (February 2024) in journal France Bleu, also with pictures 
* Article on Wikipedia with details about the battle of Pozières
* Facebook account of Le Tommy, Café du Souvenir
* Tripadvisor has a series of photos of the café and the site 

* Video (2013, YouTube, 2'57") by Stuart Curry


* Another video (February 2024, YouTube, 4'25"), with recent scenes of the trenches

Dominique Zanardi
Musée de le Bataille de la Somme
91 Route d’Albert
80300 Pozières, dept Somme, region Hauts de France, France
visitors welcome

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