There is a brand new official Lochnager Crater Facebook page. Am awaiting a link but in the meantime go onto Facebook and type in the search box – “The Lochnagar Crater, Official Page”.
Just returned from another great and varied tour with our very good clients and life-long friends, John Rubin from Manchester and Colin Beattie from Macclesfield. We were based in Englos, near Lille with a shed load of Canadians over for Vimy100
Day 1 after flying in from Manchester, we caught up with the Mons 14-18 visiting old sites like St Symphorien, Casteau and the Grand Place and visiting some new ones too – La Bascule and the Irish Memorial.
Day 2 was a very early start (4.30am) to make our way down to Arras fror the Dawn Commemoration (6.30am) for the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Arras. Very moving ceremony with people from all over the Commonwealth: Canada, NZ, OZ , SA and the UK, together with a very healthy contingent of local townspeople. But it was perishingly cold (3’!)
Then a dash back to Englos for breakfast before travelling off down to Lens for the buses to Vimy100. Quite heightened security checks for obvious reasons!
Great set-up in front of the memorial and we were lucky enough to get seats in front of the big screen. From 3′ in Arras it got up to 25′ by mid-afternoon under a cloudless blue sky. There seemed to be far more Canadians present than actually went “over-the-top” on 9th April 1917! And no mention of the British involvement and no sign of either the Union flag or the UK national anthem, even though PC, PW and PH were in attendance! It was very much this Canadian “Birth of a Nation” stuff, which even modern day Canadian historians dismiss as a myth! Still it was a good afternoon marred at the end of the day by the chaos for the buses to return the massed hoardes to their cars and coaches!
Day 3 we stepped away from WW1 and travelled down to Azincourt and Crecy. The visitor centre in the village of Azincourt is an absolute must for anyone wishing to find out more about this defining battle of England history. And you can still tour around the battlefield itself by car. The observation tower overlooking the Crecy battlefield gives a commanding view of the field, but it is in need of some serious tlc!
Day 4 we were back on the Somme catching up on some old favourites and new ones too! We started at Lochnagar so that I could take my first view of the plaques that were laid last year around the boardwalk on our behalf – one for Pte Peter Kennedy (see our webpage) for the Kennedy family, who fought there with the Tyneside Irish on 1st July 1916, and a personal one, alongside Peter, for me and the Ellis family. My great-uncle Pte Sid Russell was only 19 when he was killed on 9th April 1917 in Macedonia fighting the Bulgarians – and here I was laying a cross beside his name almost 100 years to the day! Very moving for me!
Then off for lunch at Avril’s before making our way to the new museum at Thiepval – well worth the entrance fee! Via Pozieres, Contalmaison , the Bazentin Ridge and Caterpillar Valley and on to Longueval for the SA memorial at Delville Wood. I t was only 3 weeks since I’d been at the Delville Wood Memorial in the centre of Cape Town!
Day 5 after dropping the guys off at Lille I went on alone to Waterloo to see for myself the changes made there for the 200th anniversary. They are impressive indeed and it is now back on the agenda for one of our “catch up on the catch up” tours. Briefly stopped at a set of traffic lights to watch the Paris-Roubaix cycle race hurtle on by, before the flight home from Charleroi.
Please contact us for details.
We will soon be departing for our first guided tour of 2017 – the centenary of the Battle Of Vimy Ridge. We will be attending the commemoration on the day plus catching up on visits to Mons, the Somme, Azincourt and Crecy. Looking forward to it!
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our guests, visitors, friends and followers. Thank you for all your support and your custom! 2017 is looking to be a very busy year for us.
Ged & Col
Both Colin and I were accompanied by our “significant others” to this great evening of food, wine and song! We were entertained by the celebrated Canadian songstress Patricia Hammond. Patricia had a busy summer performing all over the Western Front, but in particular at the German commemorations at the Fricourt German Military Cemetery on 1st July. Readings of “Letters Home” from the trenches were also read out by local actors.
Very moving and yet most enjoyable – thanks to all at The Albion Inn!!
Just received this kind email from Bruce and Elizabeth Larner in New Zealand:
Another fanastic testimonial for us from the Bleakley family from Northern Ireland who travelled with us in September 2016. Check out the Testimonials page!!
Well done Col!
We are fast approaching the end of our 2016 Season but we still have availability on our guided tours right up until Armistice Day 2016 and beyond.
We are also now taking bookings for our upcoming 2017 Season guided tours and for the Armistice Commemorations in November 2018.
Contact us for details.
Col is out with a a party from Northern Ireland this week visiting a couple of memorials to relatives in Flanders and on the Somme. Also included is a guided tour of the area in Thiepval Woods and around the Ulster Tower. Enjoy!