Saturday, July 5, 2008
Monday Afternoon June 30 th – Wed July 2nd
After a massive holdup on the A1 (we had lunch in the car!) which led to a very adventurous TomTomless cross-country excursion we arrived at Fromelles.
This is our first point of contact with the Northern Battlefields and is a rather desolate place where so may young men died completely pointlessly. The monument is a lovely statue and the absence of headstones (just the white crosses flush with the grass) made it very touching. With luck (and directions from the mine hostess we found the site of the recent diggings and, eve though it is just a bare patch of earth it was goo to find it!
On then to Varlet Farm our most comfortable B&B right near Passchendaele where we were warmly welcomed by Charlotte. After a refreshing shower we decamped to Ypres for the Last Post at the Menin Gate. Again this was great to experience – there were lots of Brits as July is a time of significant anniversaries for so many of their ex-servicemen. A lovely dinner i the main square and home (in the daylight!) at eleven!
On Tuesday we travelled from Polygon Wood through Zonnebeke to Passchendaele, followng the battles and gaining a great understanding of some of the realities and trials of the soldiers. Particularly fine museums at Zonnebeke and Tyne Cot added greatly to our experiece and so many cemetries, large and small, tell the tale all too well. (The troops congratulated Mick on his research, planning and guiding but reckoned that he needs to improve his motivational approach! - he calls them wimps!) Menin Gate and dinner in Ypres again at night.
In the morning we visited the grave of one of Mick's WA friends and a rather sombre German cemetery, before lunch in Ypres and off to Lille where we returned the car and said 'Goodbye' to Brendan who headed back to Paris and home while we turned towards Amsterdam!