A Travellerspoint blog

September 2015

Charles Devall Centenary

Two and a dog.....

Not really jour un but après-midi un. Claire got off work a little early and we set off for the Tunnel. There was hardly anyone checking in and the parking was almost empty. But the train before our scheduled departure was full. I bet!

It gave us time to get a coffee and take Reggie to the dog exercise area. We had about 25 minutes there and he had a ball to chase.


The plastic grass makes accidents (poops) easier to clean up. Reggie abstained.

Once underway he settled down and seemed unaware that he was on a train at all!

Some 50 minutes later Tomtom delivered us to the Hotel Campanile. Not bad. Fenced and locked car-park in a residential area. Reggie stayed in the room and we went and had dinner and a beer.


There are quite a few British cars here plus a couple of Harley's plus other European visitors.

The hour difference between GMT and CET means we have lost an hour, but we wil get it back on Sunday!!

Tomorrow we have about seventy miles to go, but we'll go the long way round to Armentières.

Day 2

We were up reasonably early to make sure that Reggie was watered both ends and had his breakfast. The special food he has from the vet to try and cure his bad belly is not to this liking. He eventually ate it at about 4pm.

The "plan", such as it was, was to head along the coast towards Veurne in Belgium before turning down to Armentières.

I set TomTom to avoid motorways and we set off along the back roads before joining the old N1, now designated D940, near Fort Mardyke. Not all that scenic so far. Ignoring the instructions we headed into Dunkerque and parked near the old harbour. The three of us walked to a café for coffee, dogs allowed inside.

On the way we passed a succession of historic ships in the harbour.

blogger-image-736310183.jpgblogger-image-1237826772.jpgDuchesse Anne

Duchesse Anne

The "Duchesse Anne" is a German 3-masted sail-training ship and given to France after WW2 as reparations for war damage, and rescued and restored by the city of Dunkerque in 1980.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth

The paddle steamer "Princess Elizabeth" took part in the Dunkerque evacuation in 1940.

The cafe was decked out with American flags as from time to time they have classic car events.


Once finished we walked back to the car after deciding to look for the beach where the 338000 troops had been taken off from. It is actually in the neighbouring coastal town of Malo les Bains.

Firstly we stopped at a bakery for lunch. Or rather picked up a baguette, pastry and drink to take with us.


After a few missed turns we made it to the beach and the memorial to the French troops and their allies, that would be the British Expeditionary Force, that were evacuated.


The beach itself is obviously a holiday beach and since June 2014 dogs are banned.

There are special fences erected to stop it blowing away.


After lunch was eaten on a bench we had a walk along the promenade to the seaside town but. Very sad as September is obviously out of season!

The next part of the plan was to head for Armentières and the hotel there. The off-motorway route took us into Belgium and past Poperinge, so we took a turn into the town, down past Talbot House (http://www.talbothouse.be/en/museum/home) and into the square.

With Reggie out of the car we headed across to the Hotel Amfora for coffee. Why? They had the best looking awning as it looked like rain was imminent.

It was. We had a second coffee.

Here we decided to change hotels. With rubbish weather we didn't want to be wandering about looking for a restaurant so cancelled Hotel Joly and booked another Campanile. This one near Dunkerque with attached restaurant.

The hotel is near a couple of lakes. Once we had checked in and had a rest, the weather brightened up and we went for a walk around them, hoping Reggie might go to the loo. He didn't.

The walk was a little over two miles. By the time we got back we hoped he'd eat his dinner. He didn't.

We went to get our dinner whilst he stayed in the room watching a programme about Ferrari's on the TV. Anything to stop him barking and growling at anyone passing by the window.

Of course. Once we got back to the room he decided to eat then. Plans for a loo walk curtailed.

Tomorrow, we will drive down to Armentières and visit Charles and pay our respects.

Day 3

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.


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.


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


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.


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!!!

TomTom did take us through a village called Fromelles.

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.


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

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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.

Posted by InvictaMoto 05:45 Archived in France Comments (0)