Travelled: From Wildhill, England to St-Quentin, France (via Calais-Dunkirk)
Visited: Ramsgate in England, Bailleul, Fromelles and St-Quentin in France
Stayed: Parking area on the Canal, St-Quentin N49.839100, E03.286670
We are up early on Monday morning, first light is 4.30 am. These are long days, with last light after 9.30pm. Our ferry for Dunkirk departs at 6 am so it already light as we drive the short distance to the terminal. Yesterday we said goodbye to Noreen and Swaraj for 10 weeks or so, and headed east on the 210 kilometre journey along the M25 and M2 in Kent. We took the scenic route passed Gravesend, Margate and finally Ramsgate.
We lunched above the beach, parked on the esplanade. To the northeast maybe a hundred wind turbines grind away, they are well out to sea. To the southeast ships come and go, we presume they are the ferries from Dover. Ramsgate is a picturesque place, a bit of an old English resort, little pubs and some beautiful old boarding houses most hotels now line the waterfront. After a long walk we depart for Dover.
We find a parking spot on the waterfront (Marine Parade) with about 40 other motorhomes scattered amongst the cars. It’s a glorious day, hot and sunny. There are lots of people on the beach, but not many swimming. The sand is very course, each grain the size of a fifty cent piece. It’s late afternoon now and we walk up to a nearby hotel for a drink and free wifi. As we walk back Marine Parade we notice most of the cars are gone, it’s just the motorhomes left. Swaraj has made us up a lovely dinner from last nights leftovers, so it’s easy tonight.
Our ferry to Dunkirk departs at 6am, so we are up an hour earlier. 15 minutes later we are sitting in our allotted line coffee machines on and Pam is organising some fruit for breakfast. Soon enough we are driving onboard, locked up and saying goodbye to England for the time being.
The crossing is smooth, two hours later we are called to our vehicle and we drive out in the French traffic. Remembering to keep to the right and anti-clockwise on the round-a-bouts. Heading west our first destination in Bailleul.
Bailleul is a lovely little French village, a beautiful church, parks full of flowers (as most villages are this time of year). The CWG cemetery, an extension of the town cemetery is large. This was the result of British, Canadian and Australian casualty stations being established nearby. George is at rest with his comrades in a peaceful little part of France.
Our next stop is the Australian Memorial at Fromelles. Some months ago I purchased Matt McLachlan’s book ‘walking with the Anzacs’. Apart from being a great read, it outlines detailed walks around the various battlefields in which the Anzacs served. This year we decided to visit the sites associated with the Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916, in which the 5th AIF lost 5533. A very emotional day.
Interestingly enough, every where we went that day, we met Australians. Bus loads, van loads and car loads. We chatted with people from all over Australia that afternoon. There’s so much interest in the Anzacs it was heartening to see. Anyway we spent about 3 hours visiting the small cemeteries clustered north-west of Fromelles and the landmarks, bunkers and trench lines.
It’s mid-afternoon and hot, so we decide to get a few miles down the road and shorten tomorrow’s drive. We arrive in St-Quentin about 5pm and find a nice little spot in the shade next to the canal and catch a nap, it’s been a long day.
Michael and Pam