WW1 & WW2 French Trip travel blog

The British Cemetery At Pozieres

Claude Castleton’s Grave - Lowestoft’s VC

Arras City Hall

The Wellington Tunnels

Down In The Tunnels

Day 7 - Sunday 13th May

With the threat of rain still about we decided to visit the other sites on our way up North to Arras. We are basically now going to be following the line of the Front between the two forces all the way up to Ypres in Belgium.

We stopped first at the British Cemetery at Pozieres where Claude Castleton is buried. Claude came from Lowestoft but had made his way to Australia as a young man. When the war started he joined the Australian army & was sent back to France via Egypt. By the time he got here he was a sergeant but unfortunately was killed on the night of 28/29th of July 1916. Following the assault he rescued two wounded men from no-mans land & was killed carrying a third man back. He was awarded the Victoria Cross medal for his actions & is now buried here with other Australian soldiers.

Next we went to the site of the Lochnagar crater just down the road. This is the crater that was left after the British blew up a massive bomb under a German strong point. The British had tunnelled from their front line all the way under the German position where they stored a load of explosives. These were set off, together with a series of mines along the Front, at the start of the assault. Earthen was thrown 4,000 ft into the air & a massive crater about thirty metres deep was formed. Picture boards around the site tell little stories of the action.

We stopped at a couple of other memorials on our way up to Arras. The Windmill Monument & the nearby Tank Monument. The British first used a Tank in the First World War nearby. There are memorials & cemeteries all around along our route a sad reminder of the horrors of war & the tragic losses.

After reaching Arras & taking the last available spot on the Aire we had lunch & then after unloading the bikes we rode into the town centre to the Information office to get details of any bike routes to the local area. Not much luck but we did get to go up to the top of the tower in the Town Hall building. Arras is a very interesting town & the Town Hall is at one end of an open square. Next to that is another big square & both are surrounded by rows of lovely Flemish style buildings. Most of Arras was badly damaged in the war but now looks lovely.

After a bit of a detour we then made our way to the Wellington Carriere where we had a guided tour of the underground tunnels here that were used during the war. The whole town has a large number of tunnels under it where they originally mined the limestone to build their houses. In the First World War these were extended & at the time of the battle of Arras were used to House some 20,000 troops of the Suffolk Regiment. On the morning of the attack on the Germans they emerged from the tunnels right in front of the enemy.

After that is was back to the Motorhome for the evening. We did watch a film I had recorded about the tunnelling of a mine under another site up near Ypres. This was at Hill 60 where they used a lot of Australian miners.

Miles today - 32

Total miles - 767

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