To mark the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, and more especially the Battle of Bazentin Ridge that kicked off the second phase of the battle, on July 14th 1916, Claire and I are off the France to visit the grave of my Great-Cousin William Devall.
We went on the 90th anniversary and left a British Legion poppy cross to show that someone in our small family had remembered.
Trying to find out more about how William came to be in the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry for a bloke that was born and bred in Vauxhall in South London has proved to be a little more complicated.
An email to the regimental museum didn't really help as they don't have many records any more, and what is available are on Ancestry.com. A visit there seems to have got nowhere really. It is a shame that national records that should be owned by the country and managed by the UK Government have been let go to a commercial site.
From the regimental history book, I can see how the 7th Battalion made there way from the channel port to arrive in the locale of Corbie on the Ancre River and then moved up the line to take part in the Bazentin Ridge battle.
Although the battle was seen a win for Britain, the loss of 6000 casualties can hardly seem like a victory.
On the way northwards again Claire has a Flickr friend that lives in Ireland and is unlikely to get across and has asked if we are near Pernes Cemetery to take a photo of a relative buried there after succumbing to the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918 that killed an estimated 50 to 100 million across the globe.
I have added it to the route home and we'll do our best.
Photos from the trip. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pauldevall/sets/72157627086246181/
6 July 2011
On the way back from work I saw the odometer was getting close to 74000 miles. I worked out that the it would flip up in the middle of the motorway stretch between Maidstone and Ashford. As if by coincidence, as I approached the turn off for Leeds Castle the motorway came to a grinding halt. Usually something that happens only on a summer Friday as everyone flees to the coast for the weekend or is going to the ports to escape to France on holiday.
I took the slip road and as I approached and headed down the A20 instead. Luckily, the road was pretty clear so I guess the hold up was rather fresh.
The 74000 clicked up and I made a quick dask to the left to where the Pilgrim's Way works its way along the edge of the hillside. I saw a programme once where TV personality Nick Knowles (before the DIY programmes) did rides in the country on motorcycles with a selection of celebs. I am sure he did the Pilgrim's Way. I assume it is a different bit, as this section is very anti-motor vehicle and walker and mountain bike friendly. Such as shame as mountain bikes are the cause of much damage to footpaths across the country as they have little or no idea of the damage their tyres cause to the paths they ride on.
I took a picture of one end of the section.
2 July 2011
Another superb ride to Cambridge with friends from the Kent Centre and my brother Neill.
Once again the weather was kind and the Royal British Legion have raised loads of funds to assist with the work they do with ex-servicemen, both abled bodied and those carrying injuries or disabilities from their service.
Me at Cambridge United States Memorial Cemetery at Madingley, wearing my Suzuki Owners Club Buff to keep the sun off my head.