With the centenary of the beginning of the 1st World War, or Great War as it was appropriately named in 1920 around the corner in August, we decided to write this little post to give our guests an idea and some pointers as what there is around this area to do and see pertaining to this 'war to end all wars' A war that devastated the countryside of Belgium, Northern and Eastern France.
Maison de Plumes was owned by Dr Delepouve at the time of the conflict and Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig spent a few nights sleeping here. Indeed there is information online that he rode through the village on a white charger in 1917, along with many Regimental and Battalion diaries mentioning marching through the village
The front and infamous trenches which brought so much suffering to British & Commonwealth, French and German combatants are only approx 20 mins away and military graveyards like the British and Commonwealth graves in Sains-les-Pernes are within 10 minutes of the house. All these graveyards contain a book called the cemetery log, which names all those buried there, so if you wish to find a family member it should be possible. The nearest big national memorial to the fallen is the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, where the visitor can still see intact trenches. Drive a little further south and you can visit the Somme, scene of the British armies worst ever defeat, with 57,470 casualties on the first day, a battle that lasted for 141 days. Visit the memorial and tomb of the unknown soldier at Thiepval, where fragments of the men who where not identified are laid to rest.
Or there is Neuville-Saint-Vaast, the largest German war cemetery in France, which is the final resting place for 44,833 German soldiers of which 8,040 were never identified and buried in a common grave. The way the site is constructed reflects the important place that nature has in German mythology. In the capital of Pas de Calias, Arras, discover the Wellington tunnels and preparations for the Battle of Arras (April 1917), when more than 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers gathered in an underground network of chalk quarries to launch the largest surprise attack on the Germans of the First World War. On the surface, there is a memorial garden and a memorial wall that honours the memory of those who were involved in the Battle of Arras. Another worthy site to see is the beautiful French military cemetery and monument - La nécropole de Notre-Dame de Lorette in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire near Arras
Above all, we all need to remember those who fought for their countries on both sides in the horrendous conflict with respect. What better way to do this than to spend some quiet time at one of the hundreds of war graves scattered around this once again beautiful part of la Belle France?
Written by Richard who, having served with the British Army, has a natural interest in military history. He will be happy to recommend a tour and give you ideas where to visit.