Day 19 - Thursday 28th November
Another dull start to the day. Main objective today was to visit the War Museum in Dunkirk on the way back to Calais. But as we had all day & only about thirty three miles to Dunkirk we decided use the morning to have a look at the Hooge Crater museum just outside Ypre & then stop off at Poperinge on the way to Dunkirk.
The Hooge Crater was formed when the British detonated 1,700 LG’s of high explosive in a tunnel which had been driven under the German position there. There is now a lake in the crater & remains scattered in the grounds around. The museum has an extensive collection of relics & weaponry with a number of life size war scenes. For me the old war songs playing in the background were most effective & amusing with their anti-war lyrics. Not as big as the museum at Zonnebeke but most interesting.
We moved on then to Poperinge which was well back from the Front Line in the war. Here I visited the Execution Post & Death Cell at the City Hall. These were used in WW1 as punishment for soldiers who were convicted of murder, desertion or cowardice. It is unclear exactly how many soldiers were executed here but they spent their last night here in the Death Cell before being taken out, tied to the post & shot. Having seen something of the horrors faced in the terrible conditions experienced in trench warfare it is easy to understand why they would want to desert or run away.
From Poperinge we carried on to Dunkirk only to find that the WW2 museum commemorating the evacuation was closed for the winter. Nothing much else to do but carry on to Calais. Our night stop here before catching the train back under the channel in the morning was on the large car park at the Cité Europe shopping mall. It is popular with motorhomers as it is right next to the channel tunnel complex. There is a special car park that caters for motorhomes. No facilities such as electricity or water but free & handy for the mall shops & supermarket.
We were there by mid afternoon so plenty of time, after a coffee, to take a wander across to the mall. It really is big & after a while I left Viv to do her own wandering & headed back to the motorhome. An hour or so later I get a phone call from Viv to say that she can’t see where the motorhome or even the car park where it was. Very strange as the car park is right across the road from one of the three entrances into the the mall. Anyway after a while we found out the reason for her confusion, she had gone out the other side of the mall not realising that it was similar at the back & front. After talking her back through the mall to the correct side she did manage to spot the car park & the motorhome. It turned out to be my fault as I had failed to tell her that there was a back & front side on the mall. Brings a whole new meaning to the old Bonnie Tyler song “I Was Lost In France”
Mileage today - 80
Total mileage - 1,175