France September - Troisième Jour

As it is Sunday a bit of a lie in and then when Claire was getting ready I took the boy out for his morning ablutions.

Today there was a very autumnal chill in the air and a heavy dew. My trainers are definitely not waterproof, seeming to have the water resistance of cardboard.

Still after breakfast and checkout it was dry for the 35 miles or so to Desplanque Farm and the cemetery.

The track off the main road is worse than ever. Bumpy and not suitable for most cars. The Corsa coped okay. At least it was dry.

Desplanque Farm

Charles is one of four graves in Row D alongside the standard cross. Already there was a cross from a school and a laminated sheet of remembrance left last year by my brother, Neill.

Family Remembrance 

It's a little muddied and tatty but still readable. I put our cross on the front of the headstone.

The headstone and poppy cross

It's a very sobering place and time for reflection.

Cross of Sacrifice

Next to him is one T O'Reilly, also of the Royal Irish Fusiliers.  I wonder if his family have ever made the trip across. He was killed on the same day.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_of_Sacrifice

From here we decided to try and find the Guards Cemetery near Cuinchy to see the war grave of her Granny's brother Timothy O'Leary.

TomTom decided it was going to be magical mystery tour time and we had no idea where we were going. In the end I stopped and reset it. It immediately had us do a 180 and head miles past where had already been! I turned on route recording on the TomTom a bit earlier to see where the heck we were.

In the end we gave up on Cuinchy and dialled in Cassel.  One high spot was that the route TomTom chose was through Fromelles.

Later on checking the TomTom I could see that we had been going in completely the opposite direction and then looped back to where Cuinchy actually is!  We gave up when only about 10 miles away!!!

This is the site of Pheasant Wood, where only in 2008 they discovered mass graves containing over 250 Australian and British dead. 

The battle here was fought over two terrible days on 19/20 July 1916. Australian casualties were over 5500 killed along with a further 1500 plus British dead.

A massive DNA search in Australia has resulted, according to the display boards, in only one left unnamed.  The headstones haven't yet caught up as there are many just with "An Australian soldier of the Great War" on them still.

Fromelles erntrance

Cross of Sacrifice

Cemetery from the right side

Further right!

The wooden building is the museum. We didn't have time visit but will plan to do so another time.

Read more at:



We arrived to find Cassel, high on its "mont" packed with cars taking up most spaces. In the end we parked in Place Van Damme. Not named after the actor but a Napoleonic General - http://www.napoleonguide.com/soldiers_vandamm.htm

Cassel was Marshal Foch's HQ during the early part of WW1. There is a statue of him on horseback looking towards the east where the German lines were.

We ascended and then descended the Mont from car park to town centre and decided to have lunch at the Sainte Cecile Café as they had a snack menu and outside seating.

No sooner had we ordered coffee and a Croque Monsieur each than the rain started. We went inside. This cafe is also a betting shop, bingo and lottery establishment! But it allows dogs inside and is out of the rain. It was okay but nothing of note!

The walk back up and over the Mont? Not so dry! In fact we got soaked.

Once in the car I set TomTom for home and the fastest route and by 4pm we were queuing to get through the pet passport check with Reggie. The drive-through section was closed! Luckily the rain had stopped so no one got too wet in the queue. 

All our paperwork, thanks to Anthony at Barrow Hill vets, was in order and we joined the next queue to get through UK Border controls. As we were an hour early and also due to delays with intruders once again in the tunnel, things looked a bit packed. 

In the end Eurotunnel put on extra trains and we were hustled through 40 minutes ahead of the booked train. Result.

And that's it. All over for this trip. 


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