Day 6 - Saturday 12th May
Another fine start to the day but heavy rain & wind forecast for tonight & tomorrow. Plan for today was to bike out to the sites not far from Albert including the big Thiepval Monument, the Ulster Tower, Beaumont Hamel etc. Hopefully get round them before it rains.
We didn’t get away very early & it did rain a bit as we made our way out of Albert & up to Thiepval first. Lots of uphill riding to get up there but fortunately the rain wasn’t too bad. The Thiepval Monument is, I believe, the largest British War Monument & commemorates about 70,000 soldiers from WW1 whose bodies have never been recovered & have no known graves. All the names are carved on the stone panels on the monuments walls. Terribly sad to see all those thousands of names. After a bit of searching I did find some Tuckers but not many & no relatives that I know of.
We decided to give the museum a miss & move on a short way to the Ulster Memorial Tower just down the road. This is a replica of a tower in Ireland which has been built from stone brought over especially to build the monument to commemorate the part played by the Ulster regiment. Several Coach loads of people enjoying the sunshine in the small cafeteria here. A mixture of UK & other nationalities including school groups.
A mile or two on from there is the Beaumont Hamel Site so it was down one hill & up another to get to it. It is a big area of the old battlefield now run by Canada that particularly preserves & keeps alive the part played by the Newfoundland Regiment who fought here.
Newfoundland is an island off the coast of Canada which was an independent member of the British Commonwealth at that time. A very large proportion of their small population volunteered to come over in the war. Their first real action was here at the Somme & unfortunately they suffered badly. On the first of July 1916 they were involved in an assault on the German trenches about 180yds in front of the British front line. Of the nearly 800 men that went over the top only 110 returned & of them only 68 were able to report for duty the next day. The assault was a shambles & they were mown down by German machine guns as they moved forward.
We joined three other UK men on a guided tour. The Canadians use students on a work experience programme to run the site & one of them led us on the tour. Very interesting & we learnt some interesting facts we wouldn’t have got if we had simply walked round by ourselves.
We were going to visit a couple of other sites on a circular route but as it was getting late & rain was forecast for late afternoon we decided to head back to the site while we were still dry. As it was it didn’t start to rain till 7pm. Despite the forecast of heavy rain & winds overnight it wasn’t that bad.