20.07.2011 - 20.07.2011
Cool, cloudy and drizzly
First call this morning was Bancourt to see where Julie's uncle was buried.
Then Bullecourt, then to Arras and down into the tunnels that the New Zealander's dug out - 19 kms of them. They lived down there for months and the tunnels were huge and very easy to walk through - stacks and stacks of head room, for even the tallest person. There are still signs painted on the walls down there, with arrows showing directions to Sick Bay, the Mess Hall etc. The Germans had no idea that the New Zealanders were living underground, and at the precise moment, attacked the Germans and won the day. However, under British command, they stopped and gave the Germans time to regroup and retaliate. There is a suggestion that if the Allies had pressed on that day, the Germans would have been defeated and World War One would have ended a lot sooner. Who knows?
Had lunch in Albert
and then visited a German War Cemetery. 45,000 iron crosses set in the grass - no gardens like our war cemeteries, just trees. Very nice too.
Visited the British Memorial at Thiepoal. Huge and very impressive. Went to Vimy Ridge and saw the Canadian War Memorial. It is amazing. Then Fromelles, Cobblers Corner, VC corner and then into Ypres where we were staying the night.
All of us were staying at the same hotel (the Novotel) so after checking in, we all met in the foyer and went to the Menin Gate for the 8.00 pm Last Post Ceremony by the Ypres Fire Brigade. These guys have been conducting this ceremony every night since World War One, except for a break in World War Two, when the Germans were occupying the area. I had witnessed this ceremony in 2007 when I travelled to Belgium with the Governor-General and it was even more emotional the second time around. 55,000 names of missing allied soldiers on the walls. What a dreadful waste. We wandered around the Menin Gate taking photos
and then went to dinner and chatted with some UK school teachers. I had fish and chips and salad and Phil had spajhetti bolonaise plus a Belgian beer.
We said goodbye to Kathy. She was a great guide.
Back to the hotel and into bed. The hotel room was okay and it had a bath which was lovely.