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Monday, 20 May 2019

Back & Forth Tour 2019 - Day One, Cambrai

For this year's 10th anniversary battlefield tour my friends and I chose to revisit the Western Front and take a closer look at some of the areas we have visited on previous trips.

From the left;- Bruce, Me, James, Dave, Roland and Bernard (a friend who showed us around the Hindenburg Line)

Why the Back & Forth Tour? Well due to somewhat eclectic opening times of the many museums we planned to visit, we couldn’t tour the various battlefield sites in their correct historical order…..😃

The first day we decided to tour the Cambrai battlefield of November 1917. Specifically we wanted to see the areas where the early tanks had operated.

The tour we took is laid out on the map above. I will let the photographs below tell the story.

The Canal du Nord. During WW1 this section was still under construction, and therefore dry. It posed a considerable obstacle when assaulted by the 37th Division in 1918 where Dave's Great Uncle was fatally wounded.

This crossing of the canal is just west of Havrincourt Wood where the tank units assembled prior to the battle commencing on 20th November 1917.

The Tank Regiment's memorial just outside the village of Flesquieres at Ribecourt-la-Tour. The track marks are made using Mk IV tracks fitted with grousers to extend their width. Behind here is a ridge line where a German battery famously held up the advance, destroying five tanks - allegedly by an officer single-handedly using the one remaining cannon.

The main objective of our visit to Flesquieres, the new museum built to house "Deborah"

Before we went in, we visited the members of her crew who had died that day. They rest in the CWGC cemetery next door to the museum.
The museum is quite simply fantastic. "Deborah" herself is very accessible and easily examined, plus there are many other smaller exhibits that complete her story. Before you enter the main hall there is a very informative film that sets everything in context.

Roland (who is a fluent French speaker) was able to negotiate the price down to €5 per head - always a bonus!

We then drove on to  Masnieres where "Flying Fox II" collapsed the bridge while supporting an infantry assault. This is the replacement bridge!

As we left  Masnieres there was a Canadian Memorial identical to the one at Newfoundland Park on the Somme.

Bourlon Wood marked the furthest advance of Commonwealth forces. At the base of the hill this rather nice memorial has been erected to commemorate the Tank Regiment's efforts

The Memorial to the Missing of this battle (amongst others close by)  at Louveral, has some beautiful reliefs sculpted by an artist who had himself, served in the trenches.

The attention to detail is admirable - there are even the additional straps on the left-hand 1908 webbing pouches..

The memorial incorporates a peaceful CWGC cemetery alongside overlooking the fields of oil-seed rape. 
So that was day one over with. Time to return to our Gite in Hamel (Somme) and get some shut-eye.....


1 comment:

  1. Really good, seeing this will I even need to do my own

    ReplyDelete