Dunkirk Trip 24-27 May 2008
from London Colney at 7.30 am via Ashtead to Dover arriving at 10.30
am and embarked on 12.40 pm ferry docking at Calais at 3.15 pm
(French time) and passing site of the Field of the Cloth of Gold on
journey to Vimy Ridge.
is site of major offensive undertaken by Canadian Forces in April
1917 and was visited by 677 Company as an Easter 'treat' in 1940.
Walked through trench-lines of allied and German forces which were 50
yards apart at some places. Visited the memorial erected by Canadian
Government to their 66,000 war dead which was unveiled by Edward VIII
in 1936. The memorial has recently been refurbished and was re-opened
by Queen Elizabeth in April 2007.
to hotel stopped at Thiepval to visit the largest war memorial in the
world designed by Edwin Lutyens and unveiled in 1932 to commemorate
the 72,000 soldiers who fell in 1916 at the battle of the Somme and
who have no known grave.
Tabl Hotel, Cambrai, for over night stay.
Albert which was the first temporary billet for 677 Construction
Company and visited the railway station where the troops de-trained
to be met by the transport section and the town square where the
Company was drilled.
Doullens for coffee. The town was the venue of a meeting between the
allied war leaders in March 1918 attended by the French President,
Haig, Petain and Foch. Inspected ruined church of St Pierre.
the permanent billet at Dieval where airstrip was built and local
enquiries by War Research Society had established possible location
in the fields that had since reverted to agricultural use. No obvious
traces of wartime activity although local football team continue to
have a presence. Returned to bar in village for lunch and possibly
establishment mentioned in Ted's letter.
through Bethune and Rappel mentioned in diary on way to the airfield
at Merville where Company was engaged in maintenance and bomb damage
repairs. Local aero club holding open day and able to speak to local
historian who explained that an airstrip had been constructed on land
owned by a local nobleman and airplane pioneer with site subsequently
taken over my military authorities.
for hotel and return to town for ceremony at the Menin Gate which was
attended by contingents, with brass band, of the Royal British Legion
and the Sikh community.
journey of Company on retreat from Dieval through Cassel, site of the
'Grand Old' Duke of York's march 'up the hill', to the temporary
quarters at Hondschoote. Lunch in bar and conversation with elderly inhabitant.
Les Moeres where Ted sustained his injuries. Isolated straight
stretch of road with houses on either side for approx ¼ mile and
limited cover. Visited local cemetery which has graves of other
soldiers from the Company.
Then to the
hospital at Zudycoote and Bray Dunes and The Mole from which Dunkirk
evacuation was organised. Return to hotel.
hotel at 9 am and traveled to Dunkirk Town Cemetery - the last
resting place of Ted South. Wreath laid by John and entries made in
road to Calais harbour blockaded by French fisherman but able to
board earlier ferry.