We joined in with the celebrations to commemorate the 100 years anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. My great great uncle was one of the many many young men to die during this period of WWl. He very sadly died on 9th October 1916 near Thiepval and is buried in Contay British Cemetery.
|'While We Sleep' by Jacqueline Hurley|
The Somme Battle began in July 1916 and finished on the 18th November. This was a terrible waste of lives with over a million dead or injured during the 141 days of horror for a 15 mile front! The first day was a disaster with 57,470 casualties mown down by thousands of machine guns and artillery fire, including 19,240 British soldiers dead.
Fighting was very important but crumbling trenches needed maintaining because of the chalky soil. Added dangers were barbed-wire,planes, tanks and chemicals with deadly poison gas. If the guns or artillery did not get you, life in trenches was very grim. Personal hygiene was impossible and rats and lice prevalent. Decomposing corpses brought more many problems including flies and maggots. The cold and wet brought frostbite, trench foot and exposure. Diseases easily spread in these conditions.
|Ian looking at plan of graves and visitor book in entrance pillar|
We were very fortunate and visited Contay British Cemetery, Thiepval Memorial, Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and Canadian National Vimy Memorial. I have made a Facebook photo album and a You Tube video from my GoPro attached to my wheelchair (a Harvey invention called wheel cam!).
I learnt much about soldiers' life on our trip. Also a big part was to visit Jonathan’s grave and place my ceramic leaves on it. When Ian and Nigel visited Contay with their Morgan cars on their way home from their visit to Gheuvelt in 2014, Nigel brought me some Maple leaves back from the trees growing in the cemetery. Ian collected his leaf from the Plane trees gowing outside his work in Worcester College Yard by the Cathedral.