Travelled : 38 kilometres from Doullens to Pozieres, the Somme.
Visited : Various memorial sites around Pozieres.
Stayed : Claude’s Farm, free for 2 nights.
It’s only a relatively short drive to Pozieres this morning. We have already serviced the Hymer and filled with diesel at the Super U before we roll out of Doullens. Diesel is much cheaper in the service stations attached to the supermarkets in both France and England, so we normally have our eyes out for cheap diesel. Mind you they are not really service stations, just filling points that accept credit card.
We have tickets for the Western Front Centenary at Pozieres on the 23rd July. Given Pozieres is a tiny village and no campsite is available, we decide to be a day early and see what we can organise.
The Digger is appreciated here, even a hundred years later.
This morning drive is into Somme Valley and its easy to understand why the Somme has been fought over for centuries. It’s gentle rolling countryside is rich farming country and being summer, cropping and harvesting is happening everywhere. We find a spot to park and go for a walk up toward the 1st Division Memorial and find a large marquee with lots of Australian Flags. Long story short, Barry the President of the Pozieres Remembrance Society introduces us to Bernard, the Mayor who inturn introduces us to Claude. We find ourselves comfortably parked in front of Claude’s barn.
Parked up in front of Claude’s Barn.
The British Memorial as you enter Pozieres. There were a group of Australian Soldiers practicing a coffin ceremony there ? We later find out that during the last 12 months the remains of three Australian soldiers have been found and identified. They are buried with full honours here later in the day.
The 1st Australian Division Memorial. They were conducting a full dress rehearsal as we walked through.
The Windmill, some 4,000 Australians with no known grave lay in the fields around this spot.
Standing just below the old German bunker at the Windmill. Behind us 7,000 crosses each with a knitted woollen poppy are laid out in the sunrise crest of the AIF. All done by a group of volunteers from Queensland. Each cross representing an Australian Soldier killed in the 6 weeks before the battle concludes.
British Tank Memorial at Pozieres. Commemorating the first time tanks were used in WW1. Not very successfully but you need to start somewhere.
It’s an early start in campercar land this morning, the Pozieres Remembrance Society are holding a service at the Windmill at 8.30 am. With donations from Australia they have purchased the block surrounding the Old Windmill Memorial. They are planning a remembrance garden on the 1 hectare site.
It’s a wonderful place, full of both sadness and honour.
The official ceremony begins, the colour party are positioned and the commemoration begins with the most wonderful rendition of La Marseillaise and Advance Australia Fare by a female Army Officer, it just brought the house down. It had been a very chilly morning, but now a glorious afternoon. We sat in the marque out of the sun. We were standing with a group of older ladies in the shade, suddenly an official arrives and organises chairs for the ladies and us as well.
Lots of speeches, lots of anecdotes about the Aussie spirit and the reading of letters from young men to their families more than a hundred years ago. It was a precision run event, exactly on time. Gift bags and free water for everyone. Our friend Bernard (the Mayor) was presented with an AOM, we felt very proud for him.
Well the true purpose of our visit to Pozieres complete, we visited a few other special spots nearby before heading north.
After capturing Pozieres and the Windmill, the next Challenge for the Australian’s was Mouquet Farm. Another hilltop bunker complex, more Australian lives.
The roadside memorial just below the farm. We met a woman from Adelaide here who lost 2 Great Uncles on this hill. Having trouble placing her uncles photos, I found a couple of sticky dots and we got the job done. First one up, one more to go.
The British Memorial at Thiepval. Commemorates the names of 73,000 British and South African Soldiers with no known graves. Mindful that those are only from this section of the Somme.
The cemetery below the Thiepval Memorial.