Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk39_Le-Hamel_Australian-Memorial

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-39

Australian Memorial-1

Le Hamel, France

 Back in the Somme Battlefields this week.

There is a Sunday radio program which is

giving this area quite a bit of publicity as

100 year commemorations pass by.

Hence my return to The Western Front I am not exactly sure which way we turned here, however,

I suspect it was left as we had already visited

Villers Bretonneux.

On we drove until we came upon…

 

the small village of…

Le Hamel.

A right turn here had us heading through…

 

more peaceful farm land, until we  arrived…

 

at Le Hamel’s

Australia Corps Memorial Park.

 

Officially rededicated in 2008,

the parking area is…

 

several hundred metres from the memorial.

However, it is a slow walk as there is

plenty of information to be gleaned along the way.

 

I have included this photo for three reasons. 

First, I was based in Arras for the duration of my visit. 

Second, I had no idea these towns were all so close.

Third, my Grandfather was always associaated with:

Villers-Bretonneux, Amiens, Pozieres, Bullecourt,

Paschendale and Menin Road

 

General Sir John Monash was spoken of

with a great deal of reverence by our guide. 

Our guide claimed it was his tactics which

won the First Wold War.

 

During my lifetime I have often heard

how soldiers of both sides could hear 

conversations in the opposition trenches. 

This image shows the

Australian/British trench in blue while

the German trenches are in red. 

Note how close they near the words Villers-Bretonneux.

 

Now, note the scale of this map.

The trenches would have been

barely 150 meres apart at their closest points.

Still we were to visit trenches

which were much closer.

And all among what is now peaceful farming land. 

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Jo’s Monday Walk

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Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk36_Thiepval-2

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-36

Thiepval Memorial-1

Authuille, France

 Last week I left the Thiepval Memorial…

with this shot.

 

 a view of the Anglo-French Cemetery at the Memorial.

300 French soldiers’ graves…

and 300 British Army graves.

In that era the term ‘British Army’ covered

all member nations of the British Commonwealth.

Most of the bodies interred at Thiepval

have been reburied here

after discovery on Somme Battlefields

between December 1931 and March 1932

South Africa, as a British Empire member nation

was mentioned in several sources during

my research into this post.

High up on the walls of the memorial

these wreaths may be found.

This one refers to the Battle of Ginchy

which occurred on September 9, 1916.

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 Maybe this doorway lead to a stairway

to the top of the Memorial.

 

As mentioned last week,

the Thiepval Memorial

was the first of its kind we visited.

Prior to this we had visited cemeteries

with ornate, at times, entrances,

but nothing to compare with Thiepval.

I was still coming to terms with this type

of memorial left by relatives or visitors.

From a distance I thought they were something

someone had dropped, however upon closer

inspection each and everyone contained

the name of a soldier…

 

and a brief message from a visiting relative…

community member or organisation.

The Thiepval Memorial stands on one of the strongest

parts of the German front line, which was attacked

by 32nd Division on 1 July 1916 and held by 99th Reserve Infantry Regiment.

Thiepval was eventually taken by 18th Division

on 26 September 1916 in a well-planned operation

commanded by Major General Ivor Maxse.

The Thiepval Memorial is approximately 150 feet high

and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is the

largest of the Memorials built by the

Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk35_Thiepval-1

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-35

Thiepval Memorial-1

Authuille, France

 The Thiepval Memorial is dedicated to the

Missing of the Somme Battles.

It is an Anglo-French Memorial

dedicated to a total between 72,000 and 73,000

missing servicemen.

 

The number varies as some remains are identified.

The Thiepval Memorial is an Anglo-French battle memorial

to commemorate the joint 1916 offensive.

The British flag flies on the north side of the monument

while the French flag flies on the south side.

Although I confess that the flags could be

on the opposite sides to those stated.

I have read which sides the flags fly.

Naturally cannot find my source today.

In Australia the south side of anything is nearly always shaded,

logic tells me this should be reversed for the northern hemisphere.

This was our first encounter with tributes…

 such as these.

Whether students of  history…

or the mouths of babes,

the sentiments are the same.

 

Some of the 72,000 plus names listed on the  memorial.

I think I was in awe of this memorial and I/we

did not venture into the cemetery.

However, on the left are 300 French Graves,

 with all but 47 of them containing unknown solders.

While on the right are 300 British Empire graves.

Only 61 of these graves are named.

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk33_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt-4

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-33

Lochnagar Crater

 Part 1: Lochnagar Crater

 Part 2 The Moles of Lochnagar

Part 3: The Women of The Great War

Part 4: Being Involved

Approaching Lochnagar Crater,

the first thing to catch you eye is

a giant cross which overlooks the Crater.

DC Photography

Originally donated and erected in 1986 it suffered from lightning strikes and storm damage and yielded to the elements in August 2010.  Over 20 feet in length the original Cross was made from wood from ‘…a deconsecrated Northumberland church…’, with 6 feet of it being below ground level.

A new Cross made of ‘…new green English oak…’ wand was erected in 2011.

 

Click here for more information about the Cross.

As visitors commenced their walk around the Crater it is hard…

not to notice these plaques along the boardwalk.

My initial thought was that they were dedicated

to soldiers who fought in and around…

Lochnagar and the Ovillers-la-Boisselle area of France.

However, I began to notice these plaques

and signs as well and another thought 

began to take shape in my mind.  

A few emails and the exchange of some

Aussie dollars for British Pounds…

 and this photo arrived in my email.

Now I must point out that my Grandfather

was one of a dozen soldiers required to fire that shot.

He did not give the order to fire and as far as I know

he did not pull he trigger (so to speak),

but he was part of the crew that fired

the first allied shot in anger

a less than 4 hours after War had been declared

in London.

Now I have an excuse to revisit France one day.

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More information can be found at the below links,

or by Googling First Shot World War I

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-05/thousands-commemorate-first-shot-of-wwi-in-portsea-victoria/5647724

http://blogs.slv.vic.gov.au/such-was-life/first-shot-fired/

Next week we move on!

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk32_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt-3

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-32

Lochnagar Crater

 Part 3…Women

Part 1: Lochnagar Crater

 Part 2 The Moles of Lochnagar

Part 3: The Women of The Great War

Part 4: Being Involved

This week is dedicated to all the women who

served during World War War I

Among the foxholes surrounding

Lochnagar Crater…

is perhaps the only

Western Front memorial

dedicated to…

the women who served in

the Great War.

The meorial was donated by

  Wenches in trenches

Click above or below for their website or

their Facebook Page

A simple…

 

but powerful memorial…

which describes the feelings of all who…

 

came in contact with the women…

 

of The Great War.

My Grandfather was one of those soldiers

who was thankful for skilled nursing staff

helping him back to good health

after being gassed on the Western Front.

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Travel Theme-Words

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My

Words

Travel Theme.

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Some words from the Somme.We soon became used to  seeing these words.

There were also words telling us where we were

and where to go!

And words to explain the site when we arrived.

These few days in France made me realise how lonely

it must be for migrants who do not speak

the language of their adopted home.

 

A few words…a big impact.

Words to match the images above?

And heartfelt words from the very young.

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Where’s My Backpack: Words

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Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk31_Lochnagar-Crater-Pt-2

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Jo’s Monday Walk

Week-31

Lochnagar Crater

 Part 2.

Part 1: Lochnagar Crater

Part 2 The Moles of Lochnagar

Part 3: The Women of The Great War

Part 4: Being Involved

 

Last week I mentioned memorials within

the Lochnagar Crater memorial

By now these poppy wreaths were

becoming all too common, however…

the sentiments behind each and every wreath was the same,

a heartfelt thank you and we will remember!

 

It would seem that ‘The Moles’ would refer to those

inside the 1,000 foot long tunnel.

In fact on-line research claims 18 Manchester sewer workers,

many over 40 years of age and with an average height

of about 5’4″ (average army requirement 5’8″) changed the War.

They were the founding members of the

170 (Tunnelling) Company, Royal Engineers.

Their work was the beginning of more than

3,000 miles of tunnels in

France, Belgium and Gallipoli.

While all hell raged above ground they tunnelled

silently below ground waging a secret warfare of their own.

Working in fetid air, cramped and wet conditions and with only

a candle to indicate if there was enough oxygen to breathe

they listened intently for signs, or sounds,

of the German army tunnelling towards them.

We were told that the German tunnellers were

only 5 feet away although I cannot verify that.

After the 27,000 tons of explosives were detonated

a 300 feet wide hole in the ground now known

 as Lochnagar Crater was all that was left behind.

Harry Fellows was a survivor of Lochnagar….

 

More can be read about Harry by clicking this link.

The final memorial is to Private George Nugent.  

When I took this image I either did not read, highly likely,

I took a close up of the plaque, or had forgotten his story.

 

On the far side of the Crater a tourist,

(Mr Drage of Colchester), while visiting Lochnagar,

actually discovered what appeared to be

a body emerging from the chalk about 10 metres

from the edge of the crater, in 1998.

Private Nugent’s remains were exhumed and

subsequently interred Ovillers Military Cemetery

on July 1st, 2000, exactly 84 years to the day

after he was reported as missing in action.

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Jo’s Monday Walk