September News from The Somme
Posted on 30th September 2015 by Julie and David Thomson in General News.
A September of two halves. The first half brought cold, very wet weather and The Somme mud was in abundance. The second half and this week in particular has been dry, sunny with beautiful blue skies. The farmers are still busy in the fields ploughing and the landscape is getting back to a laid bare beauty. The supermoon on Sunday night hung like a large fresh cheese over The Somme fields. This month there has been a lot to remember. On 11 September we attended the reburial of a Welsh Guardsman.
The reburial of a Welsh Guardsman
On 11 September 2015 at 11am the remains of an unknown Welsh Guardsman were reburied with honours at Lesboeufs Guards Cemetery (between Ginchy and Flers). The Guards’ remains were discovered in Ginchy and despite extensive efforts to identify him, his name remains unknown, though he was identified through his shoulder titles. We attended along with our guests. It was a beautiful morning and the ceremony was well attended, with 4 guardsmen as burial party, the major general of the regiment in attendance along with many representing the Welsh Guards Regiment as well as the French Maire’s from the local villages, and the Sous Prefet representing the French state. A rifle party also sounded the salute. Rest in Peace Guardsman.
Lochnagar Plaques and Bench
Friends of Lochnagar Bob and Joy Podesta were busy at the crater installing the next batch of Memorial Plaques. Several of our guests have sponsored a plaque and they have now been installed, along with one for Julie’s Great Uncle William Reginald Sparkes of the 13th Essex, who died in the Battle of Cambrai and has no known grave. Also in late September Vinnie and Lynn Felstead worked at the crater on the Nurses’ Memorial Bench to prepare it for the winter weather.
Joy installing plaques at the crater
Reginald William Sparkes, in memory of Julie's Great Uncle
The Battle of Loos which commenced on 25 September 1915 was remembered 100 years on. There were various commemorations around the Loos area remembering the regiments which fought there. It was the first battle where The British Army used gas. Guest and author Andrew Rawson attended the ceremonies as he feels a special connection to Loos - he started his writing career 10 years ago writing the Battleground Europe Books on Loos, Hohenzollern and Hill 70. This week, Andrew escorted us around the Loos battlefield which gave us a new perspective to this battlefield just 40 minutes away from us.
The Loos battlefield viewed from St Mary's ADS Cemetery where John Kipling is buried.
The Loos memorial at Dud Corner where Elizabeth, the
Queen Mother's brother is named as he has no known grave - Captain Bowes-Lyon.
While he was here Andrew went to Thiepval and signed copies of his book The Somme Campaign (The Loos books had sold out!) and he also signed copies for us which we have in stock.
Andrew signing copies of his books at No.fifty6
Plans for the commemoration of The Somme are ongoing. The ballot for tickets to attend the Thiepval commemoration on 1st July 2016 is now open. Follow the link ifor details of the ballot.
We have been advised that there will be a ring of steel around the area for security reasons so access to events on 1st July will be difficult and areas such as Lochnagar, Thiepval and Ulster Tower will be ticket only.
We currently receive a couple of enquiries a day about accommodation for 1st July, but we are full and we know of nowhere locally that has accommodation for such a key date. Our advice is to visit before or after the 1st July 2016 when access and travel will be so much easier. The men we are remembering is what is important, whatever the date. -
Work continues on the Memorial which will remain covered in scaffolding through to June 2016 and works are also continuing on the new wing to Thiepval Visitors Centre.
Ground works for the new extension to Thiepval Visitors Centre
Connaught Cemetery Reburials.
In the winter of 2013/14 the remains of 3 soldiers were discovered in the Ulster Tower/Thiepval area. One is an Unknown Cambridgeshire Regiment soldier who was found in a Thiepval garden. The other 2 are an Unknown Royal Irish Rifleman and Sergeant D H Blakey, Royal Inniskilling Fusilier, who were both found while the road was being widened outside the Ulster Tower.
All 3 will be reburied in a ceremony on 8 October 2015 at 11am in Connaught Cemetery opposite The Ulster Tower.
The chickens were not amused by the cold, wet weather which heralded the start of September, but egg production continues at an egg per day per hen – and gorgeous eggs they are too. Joan escaped into the back field last week but was retrieved and the gap under the fence blocked up. We think she has been watching Chicken Run. We have had advice from a distinguished local man that when the nights draw in we should consider moving them closer to the house and installing an electric light if we want happy hens and eggs to continue! However into the house maybe a step too far…