October News from No.fifty6

Posted on 31st October 2015 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.

October News from No.fifty6

October has been marked by wonderful autumn weather with stunning sunrises and sunsets and the farmers still busy in the fields preparing the land for winter.  As our recent guests have said, October is a perfect month for exploring the battlefields – the landscape is exposed so you can see the lay of the land, the weather can be just right for exploring and the quality of the light is just wonderful. Add to that the changing tree colours and there is nowhere more perfectly autumnal. The photo at sunrise taken from our back garden. This month we have been thinking about future commemorations and remembering the past.

Connaught Cemetery Reburials.

On 8th October 3 soldiers were reburied at Connaught Cemetery – an unknown Cambridgeshire Regiment soldier, an unknown Royal Irish Rifle and Sergeant David Blakey MM of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. We sadly could not attend the reburial but the event was well attended and there was coverage in the UK press as David Blakey’s family were in attendance.  The following link to a Sky News article is typical of the coverage.


The wreaths and gerbes of remembrance after the reburials at Connaught Cemetery.

 Somme Centenary Commemorations

A reminder that the ballot for tickets to attend the official July 1st commemoration at Thiepval is open for UK residents until 18 November 2015.


Details are emerging of a special commemoration on 30 June 2016 organised by the Pays Du Coquelicot  as an opening for the commemorations. The details we have to date are:

1,916 people of every nationality will unite in front of  Albert Railway Station at 9pm, on 30th June 2016.

This will be the starting point for a walk that will pass in front of the Basilica, before leading 250 metres through the Museum’s tunnel to re-emerge at Place Emile Leturcq (the square in front of the town hall). 

Each participant will be wearing an identical t-shirt and will hold a lit-torch as a sign of peace.  A Mass Band of 100 pipers will accompany the event. The participants will form a dove of peace surrounded by the pipers and will light 1,916 Chinese lanterns that will be sent into the sky above Albert paying tribute to the soldiers who gave their lives during the war. 

Also the Basilica will be lit up with special projections for 10 days.


At the time of writing we have no further details about how to take part in the event.

Lochnagar 2016

Ticket applications to attend the Lochnagar Crater Memorial at 07.28am on 1 July 2016 are now open to the public. Tickets will be allocated on a first come first served basis and applications can be made through the Lochnagar website:


Just a reminder that we are full for key dates in 2016 and booking up fast for the period 1st July to mid November 2016, so please do get in touch with us as soon as possible if you are thinking of planning a visit during the Somme commemoration months. We would love to see you here as we all remember the events of 100 years ago.

 Sir John Monash Centre  - Villers Bretonneux

Plans are well advanced for the new interpretative centre which is to be built at Villers Bretonneux, opening in 2018. This excellent short film by the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs gives further details on the proposed centre. It is worth watching to see the vision for Villers Bretonneux.


 Chicken Postscript

Earlier in October we had a short break way from No.fifty6 and the chickens were looked after by our lovely neighbours – they gave Jean and Chantal the run around the first evening not wanting to go to bed (it wasn’t quite dark when our neighbours came to put them to bed), but then the girls behaved themselves the second evening. The girls are happily still laying 5-6 eggs a day between them but they are a little confused by the hour daylight saving change -   they now go to bed at around 6pm when in the summer it was 11pm!  The village coq is still chancing his arm and visiting, but gets no further than the back field. Our girls really don't give him the time of day. We get many compliments at the breakfast table for their gorgeous eggs  - and poaching is certainly the most popular cooking method to savour these free-range delights! 

 Joan enjoying October sunshine

Brigitte loves a flower pot

No room for guests on our bench..


Comments (5)

Kathy (Smyth) says:

Just got round to reading about the chickens, poor cockerel tho', no fun Helas!! Also reading about the events planned for 2016. The one in Albert sounds fascinating but I am unable to make plans this early, unfortunately. Carry on sending the lovely news. Incidentally - for David - we think we may know where Uncle Alfred's medals are kept, or rather, which member of the family was given them after Alfred's Mother passed away aged 103 yrs back in the 60's. All we have to do is contact her and see if she kept them. All I wish to do is take good pictures of them to put into a folder and give to my family historian, eldest Son. He is coming over from China for Christmas on 15th Dec. We are greatly looking forward to that. Wes is in the throws of completing his DVD of our lovely trip. He has a movie of our journey with you along the road that Alfred's troops took before he died, a wonderful trip. Wes is adding separate photos taken at other times during our holiday, to this movie. This will hopefully be ready for Karl when he arrives from China. Best wishes to you and yours, Kathy

Dennis Weatherall says:

I came to visit from the "Great Southern Land" with my adult sons Darryn & Jarrod to walk the battlefields of ole. What an enjoyable weeks stay (3rd week Oct) at # 56. Hosts Julie & David are a delight, especially as they are also involved as fellow members of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides. Between them they have a wealth of information on the history of their local and surrounding area of the Somme. Food an absolute delight. Location excellent, their company and hospitality magnificent.

Robin, Marion and John says:

Due to a technical hitch this is the first newsletter received since our visit back in May. Prompted to view the back copies (May 2015) we read for the first time our Grandie's story. Memories and emotions came flooding back. Especially that field, the fragment of shell casing and that sobering thought of were we there by accident?
Thank you again David for the day which was without doubt the high point of our pilgrimage. And thank you both for four fabulous evenings of great food, drink and conversation.
Looking forward to returning in June 16!

Sandy Biback says:

The girls should write a book about their exploits! The Somme 2016 in Albert sounds wonderful. Can't wait to hear and see all about it

Tony says:

Never mind 'No.fifty6'. Should be renamed 'The Chicken Ranch'

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