A Travellerspoint blog

On the Somme

Today's trip was simply to give Red Pepé a run out. My school holiday/vacation was coming to an end. I wanted to be away and savour the days of freedom that were soon to end with the start of the new school year.

One of my targets was to visit my Great Uncle William. He was killed on the Somme in 1916 during the second phase of the Battle of the Somme.

I chose to use the Eurotunnel service through the Tunnel under the English Channel (La Manche to the French).

With the weather really warm by the time I got onto the train I was sweating like a piglet that had run twenty miles! We were last to board and sitting in the sun takes its toll. As usual once we were loaded onto the train it was standing room only for us on motorcycles, or sit on the deck.

All aboard the Shuttle

All aboard the Shuttle

Once we arrive in France the tethering to the TomTom will stop working. Seems a pain but no doubt @ThreeUK will be able to justify it...

My first stop should be the Aire de Rely on the A26. Have stopped many times for a coffee here.

Before then I have to navigate the A26 toll booth at Setques. Whilst this might seem to be no problem. You pull up and take a ticket. When you exit the autoroute you pay. I have a Emovis tag in the car and read that I could use it on the bike and that it automatically charges you and every month of so they collect from your bank.

What could be simpler? The tag was in my upper jacket pocket and facing forward. Fingers crossed the tag works!

Well. As I approached the toll at Setques I was hoping the tag would work. Once in the chute the green arrow turns to 30kph. And then about ten yards short the barrier went up and off I went.

Phew.

Stopped at Aire de Rely. Much has changed since Vimy in April. The building work is completed now. The self service restaurant has completely gone and instead there is a sandwich bar affair.

Coffee is still good and welcome. And there is free WiFi. Fuel is mindbogglingly expensive.

The decision to wear the FT jacket might come back to haunt me. Queuing for the Shuttle had me sweating and the odor is er... Not very pleasant. Might have to buy some Febreze.. I have opened the front and rear vents to see if the wind can blow away the whiff!!!

From Rely back on the A26 and then onto the A1. An accident on the other side had a queue extending back over 7 miles. Glad I wasn't in that. Or going back that way.

I came off the A1 and TomTom took me through Bapaume. A bit of a roundabout route to Bazentin as I forgot to set no unpaved roads in the routing settings. I had to ignore two roads that looked like dirt tracks.

From Bazentin the KSLI would have crossed Caterpillar Valley on the advance to attack Bazentin Ridge. It's all so benign now. Just rolling fields and not many signs in the fields of the carnage that took place in WW1.

The view from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

The view from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

The wood still there or at least regrown since 1916. William had been wounded in Flanders earlier in the year and had rejoined the 7th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in time to join the march from the coast to their positions facing the Ridge. He took part in the Battle of Bazentin Ridge that commenced on July 14th 1916. He was wounded and died of those wounds on July 16th.

In this cemetery is the original grave of New Zealand's Unknown Warrior. I took a picture and then googled for more information.

Unknown Warrior headstone

Unknown Warrior headstone

I set off from Caterpillar Valley on a circular trip to Corbie to visit William's last resting place.

The roundabout route from Bazentin took me past another Newfoundland monument complete with stag.

Sadly, it was too dark for my phone and I had to lighten it up on the computer at home.

Gueudecourt Elk

Gueudecourt Elk

The roundabout route from here then took me past some other monuments that I have never been to before. I saw a sign to the Welsh 38th Division monument at Mametz Wood. It was worth the bumpy uneven road to see this. If I was Welsh I would be proud to have been there, even more than I am to pay respects to these brave men.

Mametz Red Dragon

Mametz Red Dragon

In Montauban I came across the Liverpool Pals monument. It's quite small.

Liverpool Pals

Liverpool Pals

Another new place for me is Bell's Redoubt.

Bell's Redoubt

Bell's Redoubt

Still not at Corbie.

TomTom took me to Albert. We scouted round the town and I filled the tank. An eye watering cost and 122.1 miles covered.

Halfway between Albert and Corbie is an Australian monument - The Third Australian Division Memorial.

Australian Third Division Monument at Sailly-le-Sec

Australian Third Division Monument at Sailly-le-Sec

From here it was a few miles down into Corbie, passing the Red Baron Monument as I went.

Finally arrived in Corbie having passed the once elusive Red Baron crash site. This time I didn't stop. Once off the autoroute the new 80kph limit does seem to extend journeys.

I parked across from the cemetery and then went across.

Corbie Municipal Cemetery Extension

Corbie Municipal Cemetery Extension

William Devall

William Devall

After putting my RBL cross by the stone, I took a photo and then retired. I sat in the shade of the big trees to cool down and think about the sacrifice the men forever here had made.

I was hungry and I set off back to Albert and the non-toll route home. Lunch in town at the Hygge cafe. Plat du Jour. Potatoes with Lyon sausage. The sausage is loaded with pistachios.

Lunch

Lunch

Oh yeah. There was lettuce with a nice dressing.

As I was riding I had Diet Coke rather than beer.

Checking the time as I relaxed in the sun I realised I needed to abandon the non-toll route and revert to toll route. Time had got away with me and TomTom was showing an arrival time too late for my booked shuttle. Had I stuck to the non-toll route in sort of due-north direction I would have passed the huge memorial to the missing at Thiepval, but expedience meant autoroute.

On the way back to the bike, parked in the square, I tried out the new toilet. Many years ago on my first visit, it was an old style cast iron pissoir. Now it is brick built. C'est la vie.

When in Albert a photo of the cathedral and the golden dome is de rigeur. Especially in the sun.

Albert Basilica

Albert Basilica

The TomTom "ride home" route took me back towards Amiens and then on the A16 northwards.

The Emovis tag worked on entry to the autoroute just as it had on the A26/A1.

I arrived at the Shuttle just about 5.30pm and the guy managing the queues said "ride to the front" of both French and English border controls. This can be fraught with (d)anger depending on the mood of the car and van drivers. Some will try to have you off for jumping the queue, and others don't give a fig.

Once through I had time to get a drink and have another comfort break. I saw that there are some new motorcycle bays and also lockers for helmets etc.

Parked in the new bike bays

Parked in the new bike bays

The trains were retardé. I had an H hanger and F was being re-timed to H's time. In the end the bikes were loaded on the last space on that train, eventually leaving 12 minutes later than posted! Not too bad for me but the rest of the F people were about an hour late!!

On the Shuttle

On the Shuttle

Once home I was able to get the stats for the day off the TomTom.

The TomTom stats for today

The TomTom stats for today

So another day road trip comes to an end and once again another great trip.

Posted by InvictaMoto 13:56 Archived in France

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.

Login