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Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Back & Forth Tour 2019 - Day Six, The Kaiserschlacht

Our last but one day was to be spent touring the area of the German March offensive from West to East, Amiens to St. Quentin.

Our initial plan looked like this;-

An ambitious day, that led to some sites being left out as time ran out. Once again the pictures can tell the story.

 Vaux-sur-Somme Brickworks (Chimney) –site of Red Baron’s crash
Querrieu Chateau – Rawlinson’s HQ

Villers-Bretonneux. site of 1st ever tank vs. tank action

Musée Franco-Australien Villers-Bretonneux. Nice museum, not too many exhibits....but a word of warning...don't visit unless you subscribe to the fact that Australian Forces fought alone without the support of any Commonwealth forces!! It's extremely "Australian"!

Turkish Uniform in Musée Franco-Australien 

The Australian National Memorial Villers Bretonneux (now incorporating the John Monash Visitor's Centre) 

The view from the top of the tower is impressive. The tower itself was strafed by Luftwaffe aircraft in 1940 and still bears the scars.

A helpful tableau guides you around the topography of the battlefields. The New John Monash centre is a very impressive addition to the site. There are now toilets, a coffee shop and state-of-the art digital displays to tell the story of how Australia won WW1. Be aware to get full use of the displays, you will need to have downloaded an app to your phone and bring your headphones. There are cheep headphones for sale in the cafe if you forget. The centre piece is an all action (and quite bloody) video presentation of the battles which is quite atmospheric...but not one for small children!

Close by is the Australian Memorial Park at Le Hamel. I guess this is their version of Newfoundland Park? There are some very shallow trenches to see, as well as some information boards to tell the story.

At Soyecourt there are some German Trenches preserved in Wallieux Copse. These are quite nice and have an information board too.

Sadly there's nothing to see today at what was the Manchester Hill last stand. The area of the redoubt is today a dis-used quarry and closed off to the public. However in nearby Francilly Selency, there is the 16th Manchester's memorial to the action outside the local church.

Finally we went in search of the German jumping off trenches for Operation Michael. These are still just about visible in woods near to the village of Fayet. However when we arrived we found the road blocked in a failed effort to stop a large Gypsy encampment from setting up alongside the wood. As we'd gone all that way we decided to take a look, but imagine our horror when we discovered that the wood had become the Gypsy's outdoor latrine......😡
And that was our final day on the Western Front over with. Tomorrow we would start our epic journey home once more....

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