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The plan for this year’s bike trip was to first revisit the Somme battlefield and then move down to the D-Day beaches in Normandy. It's turned out to be a very long trip report to write so I'll post the Somme and Normandy visits in seperate threads.
Here I am with my trusty Varadero packed and ready to leave.


Once again I was joined on the trip by my brother Steve, who is currently going through a bit of a Charley Boorman stage…I worry about him sometimes!


He is the proud owner of a 2005 Kawasaki Z1000 which he transformed from urban hooligan tool into touring mode by the addition of an MRA Vario screen, gel seat pad and Ventura luggage system. Not exactly the first bike you might think of for touring, especially with a tank range around the 120 mile mark. We’d get used to visiting French petrol stations on this trip!


I last went to the Somme two years ago but wanted to return as there was too much to see in only one trip. To make things more interesting we were going to try and visit as many men recorded on our village war memorials, Benwick in Cambridgeshire and Hermitage in Berkshire, as we could. Prior to the trip I had identified nine names and Steve four names. Some of these men have known graves whilst others are recorded on various memorials in France. We had done some research into the possibility of our having a family member still over there but had not been able to discover anyone within the immediate family that anyone knew of. Having been surprised to see our surname on the Thiepval Memorial two years ago though we thought we would go and visit as many of the men who share our surname as we could.
Now my brother is famous for not being an early riser, so despite his assurances that he’d meet me at the Tunnel I decided to invite myself down to his place the night before we set off, just to be sure he’d be awake! After managing to lose my iPod Shuffle we headed off into the morning traffic and made our way down towards Dover on a route that we hoped would avoid the M20 – Operation Stack had been put into practice due to the fishermen’s strike in France blockading the ferry ports. Despite our best efforts we were 10 minutes late for our pre-booked crossing so had to wait an extra hour. Not that I minded as I was looking forward to a coffee before the crossing. Suitably refreshed we boarded the train at the back of the queue along with a bunch of Harley’s, a Goldwing trike, a few sports bikes and a chap on a much modified XT600 (just how cool is an old ammo box bolted to the bash plate for use as a tool box???). Whilst we waited I noticed two bikers in the queue ahead of us, one on a Fazer 600 and one on a 1200GS wearing the (in)famous white and blue Hein Gericke Tuareg outfit. Who says Brits haven’t got a sense of style 


Arriving in Calais we stopped at that first petrol station outside of the Eurotunnel to fill up before heading out onto the motorway. Our first waypoint was the stunning Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

Last time we were here the memorial was covered whilst some much needed restoration work was carried out. The work is now complete and the Memorial is open for visitors.

They’ve done a fantastic job as it is quite an amazing site, standing as it does on the summit of Vimy Ridge where Canadian forces fought as the Canadian Corps for the first time in April 1917. There are a number of statues on the memorial; chief among them is a shrouded figure of a woman facing east towards the dawn. This is ‘Canada Mourning’ and she represents the young Canadian nation mourning her fallen sons.

Overlooking the Douai plain, the memorial commemorates the more than 66,000 Canadian war dead and on its walls lists the 11,285 names of the missing.

Amongst them are two names from the Benwick War Memorial.
872068 Private Fred Bird, 107 Canadian Pioneer Battalion. Killed in action 15/8/1917

25197 Private Thomas Pedley, age 40. 27th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment). Died 25/6/1918


Leaving Vimy Ridge we rode back over the A26 motorway and turned towards the village of Souchez. Along a quiet country track is the small CWGC Zouave Valley Cemetery.


Named after the French colonial soldiers who fought near here in 1914 and 1915, there are 245 burials. Within the cemetery rests a soldier from the Hermitage War Memorial.
7692 Lance Corporal Stephen Milsom. 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 24/5/1916.

Also resting here are two former enemies.

Just along the main road towards Arras is Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. The name relates to a house south of the cemetery which was known as the Cabaret Rouge.


The cemetery contains 7659 burials. Among them is the former resting place of the Canadian Unknown Soldier whose remains were exhumed on 16/5/2000 and returned home to rest at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa.

Closer view…

Now here’s something that caught my eye.

This head stone of an unknown officer of the Royal Flying Corps dated 6/9/1916. It has the crest of the Royal Air Force and not the Royal Flying Corps. Since the RAF was not formed until 1/4/1918 then surely this head stone is incorrect? It wasn’t the only example of this that I noticed in various cemeteries but I also found this head stone for Second Lieutenant Philip Lovel Wood of 43 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, which does carry the RFC badge.

With time starting to get on we headed into Arras looking for the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery. Riding through heavy traffic we found the cemetery opposite a French Army base. With 2679 burials the cemetery also contains the Arras Memorial to the missing and the Flying Services Memorial. The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and August 1918.

Amongst the many names we found these men from the Benwick war memorial:
18670 Acting Corporal Samuel Ambrose. 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Died 10/5/1917.

9373 Private Herbert Seekings. 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Died 10/4/1917.

R/37873 Lance Corporal Charles William See, age 24. 8th Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Died 3/5/1917.

From the Hermitage war memorial:
7015 Private Harold Stanley Rivers. 7th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Died 9/4/1917.

Also:
16687 Private Albert E. Bakewell. 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Died 4/5/1917.

220356 Private Albert Edward Bakewell, MM, age 23. 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 25/3/1918.

23/444 Corporal Horace Bakewell, MM and bar. 23rd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. Died 29/4/1917.

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On the Flying Services Memorial are recorded over 1000 names of aircrew who have no known grave.
Amongst them is Major Lanoe Hawker, VC, DSO. He was the first British fighter ace having 7 victories and the third pilot to win the Victoria Cross. He was shot down and killed on 23/11/1916 by the legendary Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, becoming his 11th kill. Also listed on the memorial is Major Edward ‘****’ Mannock, VC, DSO and two bars, MC and bar. His score is disputed but stands between 47 and 73. A famous fighter tactician, he was killed on 26/7/1918 by enemy ground fire.

Just along the road from Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery is a new visitor attraction in the shape of Wellington Quarry. This is really a series of tunnels linking originally medieval chalk quarries beneath the city. They were used by allied soldiers as safe assembly areas in the Battle of Arras in 1917 and still contain graffiti etc… from the war. Signposted off the N17 once you get south of the railway tracks it looked easy to find. Unfortunately time was against us so we had to leave it for another trip. I’m told that you should give yourself a good 2 hours to enjoy the visit.
Continuing down the N17 we passed Bapaume and took the D929 towards Albert. Our last waypoint today was Lochnagar Crater on the outskirts of La Boisselle. Signposted as ‘La Grande Mine’ the crater was one of several mines laid beneath the German front line trenches. Two charges, one of 24,000 lbs and one of 30,000 lbs were blown 60 feet apart at 07:28 on 1/7/1916 resulting in a crater some 90 feet deep and 300 feet across. 34th Division unsuccessfully assaulted this section of the line suffering heavy casualties in the ‘Pals’ battalions of the Tyneside Irish and Tyneside Scottish Brigades. In 1978 Englishman Richard Dunning bought the site to preserve it for future generations when it was in danger of being filled in and used for farm land.
This is the cross at the crater…

It proved impossible to really capture the size of the crater with my camera so I’ve tried to put the pictures side by side…

From Lochnagar we headed over to our B&B at Longueval. Peter and Sarah Wright own and run Trones View B&B and I can’t recommend them highly enough. A lovely couple who made us feel very comfortable and right at home. Here’s a link to their website http://www.tronesview.com/
Last time we visited the Somme we had problems finding somewhere to eat but this time we had planned ahead and asked Peter and Sarah to book us a table at the very French Café Calypso in Longeuval village, just a short walk from Trones View. Our waiter was a lovely chap, if rather eccentric, cutting pieces of cheese from our cheese board for the café owners dogs to share! When in France I suppose!!
Suitably refreshed we returned to Trones View to sit in the garden with a beer or two and look out towards Trones Wood and Bernafay Wood with Guillemont Road Cemetery off to the left.
 

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Friday dawned to warm sunshine and blue skies. Following a very hearty breakfast we headed out to visit a long list of sites starting with Caterpillar Valley Cemetery. This contains 5568 burials.

Along one edge of the cemetery is the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing which commemorates over 1,200 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died on the Somme in 1916 and have no known grave.

Among them is the former resting place of the New Zealand Unknown Warrior whose remains were exhumed on 10/10/2004 and returned home to rest at the New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington.

Closer view…

Leaving Longueval we headed down to the D929 and turned towards Albert. After a quick fill up at a petrol station we rode back up the D929 to the Pozieres British Cemetery and the Pozieres Memorial which encloses the cemetery. There are 2756 burials from 1916 to 1918 and over 14,000 British and 300 South African names from the German offensive in Spring 1918 commemorated on the Memorial walls.
A view of the entrance gates…

The cemetery surrounded by the walls of the memorial…

From the Benwick War Memorial:
325439 Corporal Harry Bullen, age 29. 7th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Died 30/1/1918
I found this picture of Harry Bullen at http://www.lilyholtroad.co.uk/War_memorial.htm

He has no known grave and is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial.

From the Hermitage War Memorial:
616341 Bombardier Frederick Arthur Withers, age 21. 2nd/1st Berkshire Battery, 158th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery. Died 23/3/1918.

As we walked around the walls of the memorial different regiments and names seemed to stand out. One struck me as the VC award was recorded to the left of the name. This suggested a posthumous award.
Lieutenant Colonel Wilfrith Elstob, VC, DSO, MC, age 29. 16th Battalion, Manchester Regiment. Died 21/3/1918.

The London Gazette of 6/6/1919 records…”For most conspicuous bravery, devotion to duty and self-sacrifice during operations at Manchester Redoubt, near St. Quentin, on the 21st March, 1918. During the preliminary bombardment he encouraged his men in the posts in the Redoubt by frequent visits, and when repeated attacks developed controlled the defence at the points threatened, giving personal support with revolver, rifle and bombs. Single-handed he repulsed one bombing assault driving back the enemy and inflicting severe casualties. Later, when ammunition was required, he made several journeys under severe fire in order to replenish the supply. Throughout the day Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob, although twice wounded, showed the most fearless disregard of his own safety, and by his encouragement and noble example inspired his command to the fullest degree. The Manchester Redoubt was surrounded in the first wave of the enemy attack, but by means of the buried cable Lieutenant-Colonel Elstob was able to assure his Brigade Commander that "The Manchester Regiment will defend Manchester Hill to the last." Sometime after this post was overcome by vastly superior forces, and this very gallant officer was killed in the final assault, having maintained to the end the duty which he had impressed on his men - namely, "Here we fight, and here we die." He set throughout the highest example of valour, determination, endurance and fine soldierly bearing.”
Further round there was a cross and a picture of a soldier.
2088 Private Patrick Tobin, MM, age 22. 7th Battalion, Leinster Regiment. Died 21/3/1918.

Men from the Royal Scots Greys, forerunners of our Dad’s old regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

Leaving Pozieres we headed up the D929 and turned off towards Courcelette British Cemetery. Containing 1970 burials the village was the scene of heavy fighting towards the end of the Battle of the Somme with 2nd Canadian Division capturing the village on 15/9/1916. Recaptured in the German Spring Offensive of 1918 it was finally retaken on 24/8/1918.

From the Hermitage War Memorial:
Captain Neville West, MC, age 22. A Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 17/2/1917.

Also:
1038 Private Russell Bosisto, age 22. 27th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. Died 4/8/1916.

He was posted as missing following a night attack near Pozieres on 4/8/1916. Nearly 82 years later a local farmer uncovered his remains whilst ploughing in January 1998. After contacting the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Private Bosisto was buried with full military honours in Courcelette Cemetery on 5/7/1998.
Leaving Courcelette we made our way along quiet country roads to Adanac Military Cemetery near the village of Miraumont. The cemetery contains 3186 burials and was started after the Armistice when graves from the surrounding battlefields and a number of smaller cemeteries were brought together. The name ‘Adanac’ was formed by simply reversing the name ‘Canada’ as a lot of graves are from the Canadian battlefields towards Courcelette.

We came to visit:
244153 Private W. Bakewell. 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Died 23/8/1918.

28930 Piper James Clelland Richardson, VC, age 20. 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment). Died 9/10/1916.

The London Gazette of 18/10/1918 records…“for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when, prior to attack, he obtained permission from his Commanding Officer to play his company "over the top". As the Company approached the objective, it was held up by very strong wire and came under intense fire, which caused heavy casualties and demoralised the formation for the moment. Realising the situation, Piper Richardson strode up and down outside the wire, playing his pipes with the greatest coolness. The effect was instantaneous. Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire with such fury and determination that the obstacle was overcome and the position captured. Later, after participating in bombing operations, he was detailed to take back a wounded comrade and prisoners. After proceeding about 200 yards Piper Richardson remembered that he had left his pipes behind. Although strongly urged not to do so, he insisted on returning to recover his pipes. He has never been seen since, and death has been presumed accordingly owing to lapse of time.”

Returning to the bikes we continued along the country roads heading towards the Ancre valley where men of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division fought. The 63rd was formed from men of the Royal Navy Reserves who were not required at sea and fought in the defence of Antwerp in 1914, the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 and on the Western Front for the remainder of the war.
A memorial to the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division stands at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre and is in the form of an obelisk standing in a small garden by the side of the road.

Closer view…

Following the D50 towards Hamel lead us to Ancre British Cemetery. The cemetery contains some 2541 burials.


Although we had nobody from our village memorials to visit I had found a soldier who was born in Godmanchester, near to where I work.
22168 Private W.Wilkin. 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Died 13/11/1916.

Looking around the cemetery I noticed a special memorial to eight soldiers whose graves were lost in fighting following their burials. I’ve seen this a few times in various cemeteries. It’s good to know they’re not forgotten.

Closer view…

Last time we were here we had some trouble finding our way to Sheffield Memorial Park. This time we knew exactly where to go. Riding along the D919 we passed Serre Road Cemetery No.1 and No.2 then turned off the road and up the track signed for Railway Hollow Cemetery, Queens Cemetery and Luke Copse Cemetery. Parking up we got talking to a small group of fellow Brits who had just finished visiting the site and were heading for home later that day. After a brief chat they left us to it and we made our way into the Memorial Park within the wood.

There are a number of memorials to the various ‘Pals’ Battalions, including the Barnsley Pals and the Accrington Pals. Made out of Accrington bricks it sits just behind a trench that the Accrington Pals waited in prior to the assault on 1/7/1916.
The Barnsley Pals Memorial…

The Accrington Pals Memorial…

Closer views…


The trench where the Accrington Pals waited…

Walking down the hill you can still see obvious signs of the war.

At the bottom of the hill is Railway Hollow Cemetery containing 109 burials. This was part of the British support line and the name suggests that a railway was sited near to here.


Returning to the D919 we stopped at Serre Road Cemetery No.1.


This contains some 2426 burials including two brothers who served in the same battalion and were killed on the same day. Instead of two separate graves they rest together. Since my brother and I were visiting them together this really struck me and I wondered how Steve and I would get on together for eternity like this?
1236 Lance Corporal Charles Guy Destrube, age 27. 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. Died 17/2/1917.
K/24 Private Paul Jean Destrube, age 26. 22nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. Died 17/2/1917.

Another place we had trouble finding last time was the Sunken Road. From near here Geoffrey Malins shot his famous film of the Hawthorn Mine being fired and of men of the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who were waiting in the Sunken Road to attack the German fortification known as the ‘Bergwerk’ near to the village of Beaumont-Hamel. The mine was blown ten minutes before the main attack which was then assaulted by 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers. With ten minutes warning the Germans were able to man the edge of the mine crater and repulse the attack of the Royal Fusiliers. They were then in an ideal spot to observe the Lancashire Fusiliers waiting to start their assault from the Sunken Road and called down artillery fire onto their position. At 07:30 the assault started and with machine gun fire from their front and enfilading fire from the edge of the mine crater on their right the Lancashire Fusiliers took heavy casualties and their attack was halted before it really got started. The Battalion lost 163 killed, 312 wounded and 11 missing.
Here is the Sunken Lane – the attack went from left to right…

This is where so many Fusiliers lost their lives that morning…

The view to Hawthorn Crater, now over grown on top of the hill…

The Beaumont Hamel Cemetery just to the right of the Sunken Road contains some of the soldiers who fell in the attack.



We stopped for lunch at Avril Williams Tea Room in nearby Auchonvillers. Suitably refreshed we decided against stopping to revisit Newfoundland Memorial Park (well worth a visit if you’ve never been there) and headed towards the Ulster Tower and Thiepval.
 

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As we rode up the hill there were a number of coaches parked outside the Tower and as got closer it was obviously a visit by members of the Orange Order. Here is a slightly lopsided picture of the Tower after the crowds had moved on.

Leaving them to their visit we decided to park up at the nearby Connaught Cemetery and walk up the hill to Mill Road Cemetery first.

Mill Road Cemetery contains some 1304 burials and is interesting as a number of the central grave stones are laid flat due to subsidence caused by wartime tunnels.

Although we had no particular graves to visit I was struck by some of the personal inscriptions that the soldier’s next of kin had added. I confess that I shed a tear or two here.
“A more tender heart never beat from death to life eternal”
“Until the dawn”
“He hath delivered my soul in peace from battle”
“Ever remembered”
“In that heavenly mansion fair we shall meet our loved one there”
“A worthy son though far from his home he rests in peace”
“Also in memory of his brother Jack age23 killed in action same day thy will be done”
“Sleep on dear one thy duty’s done”
“Sleeping with England’s heroes in the watchful care of God”

We walked back down the hill to Connaught Cemetery. This contains some 1286 burials but today was busy with stone masons working on some of the headstones.


Leaving them to their work I was just getting on my bike when a British couple stopped me to ask if I was heading up to Thiepval. Replying that I was, they told me that there was work being carried out on the Memorial and that access was currently prohibited. They had been unable to change the mind of the man in charge and though the visitors centre was good it was a shame they couldn’t visit the Memorial. I shared their disappointment as there were a number of men I had planned to visit, instead I’d like to remember them here.
From the Benwick War Memorial:
44067 Private Arthur Wright. 9th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. Died 12/10/1916.
From the Hermitage War Memorial:
10310 Lance Corporal George William Smith, age 19. 6th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 12/11/1916.
Also:
10842 Private Charles Truran. 8th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. Died 30/7/1916.
9081 Private Frank Bakewell, age 29. 103rd Company, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry). Died 1/7/1916.
16/1650 Private Alfred Bakewell, age 20. 16th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Died 27/7/1916.
27287 Private Frank Stephen Bakewell, age 18. 17th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment). Died 3/9/1916.
266227 Private Frank Bakewell, age 21. 1st/7th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment). Died 1/7/1916.
27479 Private George Colclough, age 17. 7th Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Died 14/11/1916.

Along with so many others they have no known grave.

Leaving Thiepval behind, we rode on until reaching the Mouquet Farm Australian Memorial. The British called it ‘Mucky Farm’ and the Australians ‘Moo-Cow Farm’, this was a heavily fortified position on the German's second line of defence in July 1916. Heavy fighting took place here by British, Australian and Canadian units until it was finally taken on 26/9/1916.

We made our way to Fricourt where we stopped to visit the German Cemetery.

This cemetery contains 17000 graves, with 12000 incorporated into a mass grave at the furthest end of the site. At one time this was the resting place of Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the famous ‘Red Baron’, until he was exhumed and his remains repatriated to Germany in 1925. The black metal crosses contrast with the white head stones of the CWGC, and they seem to me to be very sombre and sad.

The plants on the mass grave were far from at their best and this added to the feeling of neglect and disinterest.

Closer view of the names…

Bearing in mind the anti-Semitism of the Nazis it was very interesting to note the graves of Jewish soldiers who gave their lives for Germany in the Great War.

Just down the road and off to the right is the sign post for Fricourt New Military Cemetery which is really four big graves, started following the capture of Fricourt in July 1916. The cemetery contains some 210 burials.

Whilst researching this trip I found who I believe to be the youngest British soldier killed on the Somme.
19773 Private A.Barker, age 16. 7th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment. Died 1/7/1916.


In contrast the oldest soldier that I believe was killed on the Somme rests in Dartmoor Cemetery near to the village of Becordel-Becourt, just off the D938. The cemetery contains some 768 burials.

Lieutenant Henry Webber, age 67. 7th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment. Died 21/7/1916.

After a distinguished career at the London Stock Exchange, Henry Webber became transport officer for the 7th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment. He was killed by shellfire near Mametz Wood. His three sons survived the war.
Lying nearby is a Victoria Cross winner who won his award on 30/7/1916. His award was reported in the London Gazette, No.29740, dated 8/9/1916…”For most conspicuous bravery. His Battalion was consolidating a position after its capture by assault. Private Miller was ordered to take an important message under heavy shell and rifle fire and to bring back a reply at all costs. He was compelled to cross the open, and on leaving the trench was shot almost immediately in the back, the bullet coming out through his abdomen. In spite of this, with heroic courage and self-sacrifice, he compressed with his hand the gaping wound in his abdomen, delivered his message, staggered back with the answer and fell at the feet of the officer to whom he delivered it. He gave his life with a supreme devotion to duty.”
12639 Private James Miller, VC, age 26. 7th Battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). Died 30/7/1916.

Towards the rear of the cemetery lie a father and son, who served together, died together and now rest together. I can’t imagine how their wife and mother must have felt when she received the news.
6029 Serjeant George Lee, age 44. ‘A’ Battery, 156th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Died 5/9/1916.
71939 Corporal Robert Fredrick Lee, age 19. ‘A’ Battery, 156th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Died 5/9/1916.

Leaving Dartmoor Cemetery we continued along the D938 to Mametz where we turned off to visit Devonshire Cemetery. This contains some 163 burials.


Amongst them lies an officer who had identified a German machine gun post near where a Calvary today sits in Mametz cemetery. Concerned that this would cause heavy casualties he was assured that it would be dealt with by the artillery bombardment preceding the attack. On 1/7/1916 the Devonshires suffered those heavy casualties from this machine gun which had survived the bombardment along with so many others.
Captain Duncan Lennox Martin, age 30. 9th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Died 1/7/1916.

Closer view…

Just outside the cemetery stands this head stone which simply states, "The Devonshires held this trench. The Devonshires hold it still”. At the base of the stone, and also the personal inscription on Captain Martin’s head stone, is the latin phrase ‘Semper Fidelis’. More commonly known as the motto of the US Marine Corps, ‘Semper Fidelis’ translates as ‘Always Faithful’.

Time was getting on and I was keen to see the South African Memorial and Museum at Delville Wood. Riding over there we had time to visit the small visitors centre before walking down the avenue of trees to the Memorial Wall and on into the Museum. The Wall’s central arch has a horse and two figures on top of it, representing the two races of the Union. The Museum was very interesting and had exhibits from both World Wars. Definitely worth a visit.

Across from the South African Memorial and Museum is Delville Wood Cemetery. This contains some 5523 burials. We were here to pay our respects to another of the men we came to visit.


From the Benwick War Memorial.
35162 Serjeant Edward Richards, age 24. 9th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. Died 28/8/1918.

One of the books that I have about the Great War is ‘Before Endeavour’s Fade’ by Rose Coombs, MBE. The cover picture of the edition I have is of the 41st Division Memorial at Flers which is just up the road from Longueval. This is where the tank was first used in battle and where one was famously reported to be ‘…walking up the high street of Flers with the British Army cheering behind…’, although this story is disputed!

Returning to Longueval Trones View B&B was just around the corner so we ended the day with a cold beer. Having forgotten to book a table at the Café Calypso Peter suggested heading out to a restaurant called ‘Le Poppy’ at La Boisselle on the main road between Bapaume and Albert. Although a little wary Peter told us that it was very popular with the locals and so we headed over there. It was quiet when we arrived but soon filled up and we enjoyed a very nice meal despite our schoolboy French letting us down at times. Amid much Gallic shrugging and shaking of hands we bade farewell and returned to Trones View to enjoy a few more cold beers and a pipe or two of Kentucky Nougat.
 

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The following morning dawned to more blue skies and sunshine though we were expecting rain as we got closer to Normandy. Once again Peter served up a huge breakfast and it took quite some effort to pack up the bikes and say goodbye. If you are looking for somewhere to stay when visiting the Somme I can heartily recommend Trones View.
Today was going to see us heading north-west from the Somme before turning back to Amiens and then on to Normandy via the Pont du Normandie bridge.
Our first stop was at Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension. This cemetery contains some 1348 burials.

Amongst them is who I believe to be the most senior officer killed on the Somme.
Major General Edward Charles Ingouville-Williams, CB, DSO, age 54. Officer Commanding 34th Division. Died 22/7/1916.

Known by his men as ‘Inky Bill’ he was killed by shellfire whilst returning to his staff car after inspecting the line.
To the rear of the cemetery lie two graves for men who worked for the Imperial War Graves Commission (forerunner of the CWGC). Possibly brothers perhaps?
Edward Jones, age 40. Died 18/3/1940.

Gareth Jones, age 43. Died 24/7/1947.

Moving on we headed for Harponville Communal Cemetery Extension where we paid our respects to the last of the men from our village war memorials that we would visit on this trip.

From the Benwick War memorial.
15269 Private John Edward Savage, age 21. 6th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). Died 1/7/1918.

With the sun shining we headed for Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.1. An interesting story for this soldier since he is the great uncle of my Dad’s new wife. He was last visited by her Dad in 1940 just before he was captured by the Germans and made a POW for the rest of the war. His name came to light when we were researching this trip and I’m not sure what relation he might be to us, if at all, but it was a privilege to visit him and we left a poppy cross on behalf of Kath & Family to remember him.
18931 Private William Duley. 5th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Died 31/3/1916.


Traffic was light through Doullens and we quickly made our way to Beauvoir-Wavans to visit one of the famous fighter aces. In the middle of open fields on the side of a hill is Wavans Cemetery which contains just 44 burials.


Major James Thomas Byford McCudden, VC, DSO and bar, MC and bar, MM, age 23. 60 Squadron, Royal Air Force. Died 9/7/1918.

With 57 kills, James McCudden was one of the top Allied fighter aces. He was also one of the most decorated. He was killed when his aircraft, stalled on take off and crashed to the ground.
The London Gazette, No.30604, of 29/3/1918 records the following: “For most conspicuous bravery, exceptional perseverance, keenness and very high devotion to duty. Captain McCudden has at the present time accounted for 54 enemy aeroplanes. Of these 42 have been definitely destroyed, 19 of them on our side of the lines. Only 12 out of the 54 have been driven out of control. On two occasions he has totally destroyed four two-seater enemy aeroplanes on the same day, and on the last occasion all four machines were destroyed in the space of 1 hour and 30 minutes. While in his present squadron he has participated in 78 offensive patrols, and in nearly every case has been the leader. On at least 30 other occasions, whilst with the same squadron, he has crossed the lines alone, either in pursuit or in quest of enemy aeroplanes. The following incidents are examples of the work he has done recently: On the 23rd December, 1917, when leading his patrol, eight enemy aeroplanes were attacked between 2.30 p.m. and 3.50 p.m. Of these two were shot down by Captain McCudden in our lines. On the morning of the same day he left the ground at 10.50 and encountered four enemy aeroplanes; of these he shot two down. On the 30th January, 1918, he, single-handed, attacked five enemy scouts, as a result of which two were destroyed. On this occasion he only returned home when the enemy scouts had been driven far east: his Lewis gun ammunition was all finished and the belt of his Vickers gun had broken. As a patrol leader he has at all times shown the utmost gallantry and skill, not only in the manner in which he has attacked and destroyed the enemy, but in the way he has during several aerial flights protected the newer members of his flight, thus keeping down their casualties to a minimum. This officer is considered, by the record which he has made, by his fearlessness, and by the great service which he has rendered to his country, deserving of the very highest honour.”

With this our visit to the World War One Somme battlefield had come to an end. Our trip would continue but now we would be visiting sites from World War Two.
 

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Older, but no wiser!
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Excellent pics and notes. I have enjoyed your report a great deal. Cheers!
 

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Wing Commander
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I think I just found the history channel, not xrv. Seriously detailed but still very moving report. On a lighter note, looked like nice blue skies for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Cheers gents...that's only half of the trip so far. I'll post another thread on my visit to Normandy soon.

Btw - the good weather didn't last ;)
 

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Pleb
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Excellent write up, be going my self soon I hope.
Here there is the Brookwood cemetary near Woking. Absolutely huge with Brit, US, Canadian, South African sections & more. Saw the grave of a 15 year old to fresh ones from the Gulf.

It's a sombre enough place without the freshly dug plots. Sad to see it's almost 100 years since WWI and still there are new arrivals.
 
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