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> Senior Blues trip to Belgium
3mm
post Oct 6 2019, 04:34 PM
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Report by NFBF....

On September 30th a party of fifteen Senior Blues members left Chester in their Leger tour bus at 5-55am, for their long journey to the Western Front. We arrived at our hotel in the Belgian border town of Mouscron later that evening.
The following morning we were greeted with torrential rain as we made an early start towards Ypres and to the Tyne Cot cemetery which is the largest British War Cemetery in the World. Obviously the scale and the amount of graves, made this place a very sombre visit, with the weather giving an idea of the type of conditions a lot of the poor men died in.

We stopped to see the “Brooding soldier” memorial to the Canadians who defended Ypres in 1915. Partially covered in scaffolding, as it was being cleaned at the time of the visit, it didn’t take away the majesty of this impressive statue.
Everywhere we went, all the memorials and cemeteries were in immaculate condition thanks to their constant care by the Imperial War Graves Commission. We then visited the Langemarck German War cemetery and saw the spot where Adolf Hitler was photographed next to a gate when he visited the place in about 1941. We than moved on and had lunch in a cafe/museum/shop in the village of Hooge. Then onto Sanctuary Wood Trench Museum,and experienced walking in the preserved original trenches. Then further on we travelled down the Messines Ridge to see the Ploegsteert memorial to the missing.

The day ended with a meal in Ypres and attending the nightly “Last Post Ceremony” at 8pm at the Menin Gate Memorial, which was a very moving experience. Day Three started with another early start in fine weather and a visit to the Loos Battlefield on the “Forgotten Front” between Flanders and the Somme, visiting the Loos Memorial and “Dud Corner Cemetery”. We had a very pleasant lunch in the lovely city of Arras before going underground in the Wellington Quarries to see where citizens and soldiers alike took shelter on the eve of the battle. After a visit to the Arras memorial and paying respects to the Missing and seeing the Air Service memorial, we headed up to the spectacular Canadian Memorial on the top of Hill 145. Around this area where the memorial is, the ground is still pitted with shell holes from the bombardment the hill received before it was captured. Some areas are fenced off with warnings about “unexplored ammunition”, still after over 100 years.

Our last day dawned again fine and sunny, and we were now travelling into the heart of the Somme battlefields. Our first visit was to the “Lochnagar Mine Crater” at La Boisselle , where thousands of pounds of explosives were set off under German lines, in the prelude to “Going over the top” on July 1st 1916. Even after erosion etc. and after over 100 years, it is an enormous crater. Now privately owned ( to preserve it) you are not allowed to go in it, but the size alone tells its own story. We then moved on to the Newfoundland park, a dedicated battlefield fought on so bravely by the Canadian army. Beautifully lawned and manicured, it didn’t disguise the numerous trenches still to to be seen quite clearly, with metal stakes and spikes and barbed wire still in place. We then went on to the fairly new Somme Museum, the “Historial de la Grand Guerre” in Peronne. This museum really needed a day on its own. With everything associated with the Somme battle on show from uniforms to artifacts, weapons and continuous film shows throughout the museum,also a very well stocked with books “souvenirs” etc.
Set in a beautiful lakeside location it was a very impressive place.

Our final visit was to the almost overwhelming edifice of the “ Thiepval Memorial to the missing” with the names of over 17,000 men “without a known grave” set into it. A very moving and apt conclusion to our tour. Walking away from the Thiepval Memorial I strayed slightly into a newly ploughed field, I looked down and spotted a small metal ball, it was piece of schrapnel that had been lying there for over 100 years. Of course, First World War Artifacts surface every day on these fields, local shops and museums etc in the area are packed with anything from guns, grenades to buttons and bullets and buckles. Come Friday, an uneventful, but long trip back to Blighty.

This has been a person recollection, apologies, if I have missed anything out to those who came, The were other cemeteries and landmarks all over the Somme, some we visited just briefly. You could not travel very far without coming across a little cemetery in the corner of field, some with hundreds of graves, one with just eleven men in it. How true the poem “In the corner of a foreign field.”

Chris Courtenay Williams


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3mm
post Oct 6 2019, 04:36 PM
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Good summary from NFBF there, I'll just add that our group of 15 soon became 16 on the trip as we adopted "Rotherham John", a solo traveller who quickly became an honorary Senior Blue, and we hope to see him at an SB meeting / home game sometime soon guiness.gif

Also, Belgian beer is spot on smile.gif


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Jumpy
post Oct 8 2019, 02:01 PM
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A fascinating account to read, and wonderfully detailed.
It's a place I'd like to visit and pay my respects to myself, some day.
Thank you for sharing.
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3mm
post Oct 19 2019, 10:45 AM
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QUOTE (Jumpy @ Oct 8 2019, 03:01 PM) *
A fascinating account to read, and wonderfully detailed.
It's a place I'd like to visit and pay my respects to myself, some day.
Thank you for sharing.

Well worth a visit, and probably a good idea to go on a guided tour. If you just walked into the cemeteries or across a battlefield you'd see them, but the guides explain things brilliantly and really help you paint a picture in your imagine.


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NorwegianBlue
post Nov 9 2019, 06:43 PM
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Sounds like it was a nice trip.
I am constantly working on my family tree and discovered a few years ago that I have relative who lost his life at Loos.
He was Scottish and had emigrated to Canada in 1911 and returned briefly in 1915 where he was killed in action.
I won’t bore you with the details but a street was named after him back in Canada.

Lest we forget.


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I was there : 31-08-13 The 888 club.
I was there : 22-09-14 The "94th minute" club.
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3mm
post Nov 9 2019, 08:17 PM
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QUOTE (NorwegianBlue @ Nov 9 2019, 06:43 PM) *
Sounds like it was a nice trip.
I am constantly working on my family tree and discovered a few years ago that I have relative who lost his life at Loos.
He was Scottish and had emigrated to Canada in 1911 and returned briefly in 1915 where he was killed in action.
I won’t bore you with the details but a street was named after him back in Canada.

Lest we forget.

As you'll see, we went to Loos and you get an excellent view of quite a few miles of the battlefield from the memorial there. It's all agricultural now, and hard to imagine they were fighting over ridges that were nothing more than slightly raised areas, because the advantage a little height gave you was enormous.

With your connection, I'm sure you'd find it absolutely fascinating if you went. You could probably find your relatives final resting place too, with a bit of research, so you could pay your respects which I'm sure would be very moving for you.

RIP


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NorwegianBlue
post Nov 12 2019, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (3mm @ Nov 9 2019, 10:17 PM) *
QUOTE (NorwegianBlue @ Nov 9 2019, 06:43 PM) *
Sounds like it was a nice trip.
I am constantly working on my family tree and discovered a few years ago that I have relative who lost his life at Loos.
He was Scottish and had emigrated to Canada in 1911 and returned briefly in 1915 where he was killed in action.
I won’t bore you with the details but a street was named after him back in Canada.

Lest we forget.

As you'll see, we went to Loos and you get an excellent view of quite a few miles of the battlefield from the memorial there. It's all agricultural now, and hard to imagine they were fighting over ridges that were nothing more than slightly raised areas, because the advantage a little height gave you was enormous.

With your connection, I'm sure you'd find it absolutely fascinating if you went. You could probably find your relatives final resting place too, with a bit of research, so you could pay your respects which I'm sure would be very moving for you.

RIP


Take a look at page 60 of this PDF:
https://www.cambridge.ca/en/learn-about/res...ur-Veterans.pdf


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I was there : 27-11-90 The 409 club.
I was there : 31-08-13 The 888 club.
I was there : 22-09-14 The "94th minute" club.
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3mm
post Nov 13 2019, 08:21 AM
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QUOTE (NorwegianBlue @ Nov 12 2019, 06:07 PM) *

What a brilliant document, well done to the City of Cambridge for honouring veterans as they do bowdown.gif


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NorwegianBlue
post Nov 15 2019, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE (3mm @ Nov 13 2019, 10:21 AM) *
QUOTE (NorwegianBlue @ Nov 12 2019, 06:07 PM) *

What a brilliant document, well done to the City of Cambridge for honouring veterans as they do bowdown.gif


Yes, I have done a lot of research into my relative, his life, emigration to Canada, military service and more 😃


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I was there : 27-11-90 The 409 club.
I was there : 31-08-13 The 888 club.
I was there : 22-09-14 The "94th minute" club.
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