Saturday, 16 June 2012

Walking The Battlefields of the Somme

Words and Pictures by Jane Orr

St Paul's Fine Weather Walkers and friends went to war!  We went much further afield than usual and spent the Early Spring Bank Holiday weekend on the Somme

Cemetary and landscape

We stayed in the village of Auchonvillers (known as Ocean Villas to the soldiers of the First World War) and walked over battlefields, visiting cemeteries and strategic points in the area over three days, walking some 13 miles. 

We visited famous 1916 battlefields such as Mametz Wood and High Wood on Saturday, and on Sunday, after a service above a WW1 dressing station, walked from Beaumont Hamel to the Thiepval Memorial.  Explanations of the sites we were seeing were given by military historian Michael Orr.

Thiepval Memorial
On the Saturday afternoon we were lucky to find a battlefield archaeology team at work at La Boiselle and were shown round by the experts there.

The group at La Boiselle

The two disappointing things about the weekend were the weather and the small numbers who came.  There were 15 of us who had a fascinating and educative weekend in good company.  To keep it "in the family" we were expertly driven by Mark Appleby who is the son-in-law of the vicar of St Michael’s, Revd Bruce Nicole.