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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Picardie, France

Apr 25, 2011 - A special Anzac Day

Up at 3.30 – into our little van and we find our way to Villers-Bretonneux for the dawn service. Thought we were early however hundreds of cars already parked and we have a bit of a walk. The service very special. The various speeches were so good and even Kevin Rudd is to be commended. The music was an Australian school band (cannot remember which school – there were so many there) and the singing lead by a young service woman. Approximately 5,000 attended the service. During the service the temperature dropped from 13 to 6...

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Apr 24, 2011 - A trial run

We head out in the morning to do a trial run for the dawn service. We don’t have a good city map so it is a case of trial and error to find the best road out of Amiens to Villers-Bretonneux. That done we visit the memorial itself and after lunch the permanent Museum set up in the Villers-Bretonneux Primary School. The hall was actually built by Australians using Australian timbers etc. This whole village has so many connections to Australia and looking into the classrooms the kids obviously do many projects on various aspects of Australia....

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Apr 23, 2011 - A footy match to remember

We head off into the French countryside. The best word to describe the scenery is ‘pretty’. Most of the crops are up, the canola is in flower and the trees are in bloom. Left and right through the country roads, little villages every couple of kms and very few people to be seen. Looking through the gates in the villages we can see huge farmyards housing tractors and all sorts of farm implements. Many of the tractors are out tilling the few bare paddocks or spraying some of the crops. There are no fences, everything is so neat and there are...

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Mar 27, 2011 - Opal Coast

I think I'm going to sack the photographer, we've not had a single photo taken for days. Right, the Opal Coast. I'd read an article in the travel pages saying that the coast around Bolougne and up to Calais was a hidden gem, but seriously, does that sound likely? As we were heading that way, we thought we'd give it a go, and came back to the coast a bit south of Bolougne at Fort Mahon Plage. It wasn't looking promising, as this is like a French Blackpool, without the excitement of a tower. I haven't seen so many shell suits, well, since...

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Nov 14, 2010 - Villers-Bretonneux

The Australian National War Memorial A 32m tower engraved with the names of 10,982 soldiers who went missing in action, stands on a hill where Australian and British troops repulsed a German assault on 24 April 1918. It was dedicated in 1938; two years later its stone walls were scarred by the guns of Hitler's invading armies. The memorial stands on a rise known as "Hill 104", which became prominent in Australian military history when it was secured during the recapture of Villers-Bretonneux on 24-25 April 1918. Thereafter it became part of...

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Nov 14, 2010 - Amiens

Last night drove throught the rain from Albert along the country roads, which had minimal singage or any reflective markings, it was quite the driving experience in a left hand drive vehicle. Arriving in Amiens after a couple of laps around the city centre, parked in a side street Rue Lamarck, where I could leave it overnight. Went to look around town, grab a coffee and muffin late supper, as the hotels were all a bit expensive I camped the night in the back of VW golf. Amiens The Great War left few traces in the capital city of Picardy,...

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Nov 13, 2010 - Albert

Driving through the rain from Montauban past Mametz and Fricourt, arrive in Albert, where I pass a German cemetery as you enter the town, and I try to find a pub on the main road to see if the rugby is on, but not showing in what looked like a British pub. I park in the centre of town by the Basilica and go for a wander around past the Highlander pub, their not showing the rugby either. Not finding anywhere suitable for lunch, and now the rain is pouring down, take shelter in the Basilica entry and then decide to check the "Somme 1916"...

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Jun 29, 2010 - We walk the bloody road through the Somme

Today, we said a sad goodbye to enchanting Bruges and headed for Amiens, via the battlefields of the Somme. Time was found for me today to visit the grave of my great uncle, Frank Brennan, who is buried at Bailleul Community Cemetery. Frank was one of 16 children - the eldest - and enlisted early and illegally through a rural recruitment drive in NSW. He died of wounds on the Western Front in February 1917 aged 19 - and holds AIF number 9, suggesting he signed up on the very first possible day. I have been here 3 times - twice as part of...

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May 23, 2010 - 2nd Day in Heilly (Sunday)

Second day of the family reunion. We met at the cemetery in Villers Bretonneux, to look at the tombstones of the family. This cemeteries was very well taken care of, a lot of the tombstones had flowers and pictures on them. Very different than ours. We spend about 1/2 hour there and then headed to mass in the same town. Didn't understand a word they said, but was very interesting. We then headed back to Heilly for pictures and lunch. Everyone got together, but it was hard to take the picture. Doreen and I were interviewed by the local paper...

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May 22, 2010 - 1st Day in Heilly (Saturday)

This morning started with breakfast at the bed and breakfast with toast, fruit, tea and coffee. Patricia home bakes the bread and it was very good. The family rally started at 2pm, so we decided to drive back into Amiens and go through the church there. We found a farmers market and walked through that. Then headed to Cathedrale Notre Dame in Amiens. This church was just amazing...yes, I know...again!! But it was. It is really too bad that most Americans can not see this beauty. Spend about an hour going through the church and then headed...

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May 21, 2010 - 2nd Day in Amiens (Friday)

Today is the day that we rent a car for several days! Oh, that was an experience! We need to get a taxi for the ride to Europcar since it is about five miles from our hotel. All the taxi’s in Amiens are BMW’s, Audi's, etc., pretty fancy taxi’s. Ours was a Perourt and it was very nice inside. He drove us straight to the rental car facility. Two of the girls there could speak more English than we could French, so that was good. After looking up our reservation, one of the girls looks out the window, says something in French and then two of...

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May 17, 2010 - Villers-Bretonneux (Nth France)

Hey all, . After three days in Paris, we jumped in a hire car and headed north. . First stop, the village of Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme Region in search of a WWI Mounument upon which my Great Grandfather's (Edmund Charles SLOGGETT) name is recorded. Australian WWI records indicate he was killed in the Somme Region (age 22) on 5 August, 1916, however his body was never found. He joined the army on 13 August, 1915 and was killed just under a year later. As nana (my dad's mum) was only a baby when he left, she did not know her...

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