WW1 Battlefield Tour
19.07.2011 - 19.07.2011
Overcast, drizzly and cool.
Met an Australian couple at breakfast, Barry and Ann from Adelaide. They had Vegemite too! (We always take a jar of Vegemite with us when we travel the world.) Breakfast was nice. Juice, cereal, yoghurt, ham, cheese and lovely fresh bread.
Our tour guide arrived, Kathy, an English girl who has lived in Amiens for 20 years and is married to a French man. It's great that we can understand her and she is excellent. She knows absolutely EVERYTHING about the battlefields. There are three other Australians with us on this World War One Battlefield Tour - Judy from Glen Waverley, Victoria, and Julie and Bryan from Sorrento, Victoria.
The countryside is just lovely - so rural and peaceful.
It's hard to imagine such horrible things happened here in 1916-1918. We visited Villers-Bretonneux and found Phil's great uncle Harold William Sweaney.
Also, Le Hemel, Mont St Quentin, Peronne, Pozieres, Le Beouf Guards at Bapaume, Thiepoal, and then via Albert back to Amiens.
At Le Beouf Guards, Bapaume, we found the grave of my great uncle Harold Dean Anderson and put a poppy and an Aussie flag on it. It was drizzling but still a calm and beautiful place, with birds singing. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have a lot to be proud of. These war cemeteries in France and Belgium are so well looked after. It is a credit to them. As you arrive at the front gate of the cemetery, there is a book there with all the names of the people buried there, and what row they are in. Very easy to find people if you know which cemetery they are buried in.
(A little aside here. On our way back from somewhere in 2010, we called into Bangkok for a stopover and on a shopping trip, Phil bought the latest version of his ubeaut Lumix camera. I mean, this is a camera that can take photos in a moving bus and they are not even blurred. So, after putting the poppy and the Aussie flag on my great uncle's grave, I took some photos with my superceded Lumix (Phil's hand me down) and then asked him to take a couple of photos of me standing beside the grave. He did and then we left and headed off for other places. That night when we were looking through our photos taken that day, the two of me standing by the grave were blurred!! We just couldn't believe it. That camera has never taken another blurred shot ever!)
At the Villiers Bretonneux school and museum, they have a sign that says "Never Forget Australia" and it was so nice to be wandering around the war museum and hearing the voices of children playing and laughing in the school yard next door. Inside the museum, there is a drawing of an Australia soldier and a sign that says "This man is a hero". Very emotional experience. The French were so grateful for our help in World War One.
We had lunch at Peronne (baguettes)
and returned to our hotel at about 6 pm. Amiens has a population of 120,000 and there are cars parked everywhere, but NO PEOPLE. I don't know where they are.
We walked down to the river for dinner and found a nice restaurant with a great manager who read the whole menu to us in English - Bruschetta plus ham, cheese and melon salad for me and a local dish for Phil - ficille picardie. During dinner we chatted with the guys at the table next to us - one from Japan and one from Brussels who were in Amiens on business for Toyota.
At 10.30 pm (still daylight) we walked up to the cathedral for the sound and light show. Absolutely amazing - the cathedral itself is so stunning but in the sound and light show, each statue was intricately coloured, even to the rouge on their cheeks. How they do it, I just don't know but it was certainly worth a look. We met Judy there. Into bed at midnight after a very busy and sobering day.
Amiens is a very pretty city, with a river and lots of hanging baskets as only the French can do.
Some more photos of a pretty amazing day.