I've walked many battlefields on several continents but the ground I constantly return to consists of just a few hundred square metres in front of the tiny village of Becourt, near Albert on the Somme. It is here that the New Army Battalion known as the Cambs Suffolks suffered unbearable casualties shortly after 7:30 in the morning on Saturday, July 1st, 1916. This summer I led a small group of pilgrims across this sacred ground - a walk I have done maybe a dozen times. From Becourt CWGC where amongst the Cambs Suffolks graves one can find the resting place of Rob Gilson. Gilson was an officer with the Cambs Suffolks. A sensitive man, his closest friend was the the author JRR Tolkien. And then past the whispering woods, through the grounds of the Chateau and on to the old British Front Line. Pause - and then up towards 'Sausage Valley' and Lochnager (last picture), the Glory Hole and on to Gordon Dump (first picture). Finally back via Round Wood and the site of Sausage Redoubt where Captain Brown did more than most on that fateful day 92 years ago. I snapped the second picture from the back of a ferry in Calais Harbour - 'Going Home'.
Monday, 9 June 2008
There must be few battlefields to compare with Caporetto in Italy (now Kobarid in Slovenia). In May I led a small group in a week of walking covering the collapse at Caporetto, the retreat to the Piave and the British actions on the Asiago plateau. Very soon I'll tell the story on my site. For now, here is a taster.
Friday, 4 April 2008
My wife treated me to a long weekend in the wonderful city of New York for my birthday. We did a lot of great things and during a ramble around Brooklyn I came across a fabulous monumental arch celebrating the Union victory in the American Civil War. This photo shows some of the detail from one of the bronze reliefs. This neo-Roman style monument is located on Grand Army Plaza close to the Brooklyn Bridge and was designed by John Duncan in 1892.
Sunday, 3 February 2008
Prior to Christmas I found myself doing a couple of weeks work in Boston, USA. Having a free weekend I searched out a few battlefield sites. I rather like the picture on the left which I took in the Charlestown Naval Base on the deck of the WW2 Pacific Campaign war horse, USS Cassin-Young. In the background it is possible to see the Bunker Hill Memorial. This was the first battle of the American war of Independence. The British won but payed a very heavy price. The picture on the right shows a panel from the American Civil War Memorial in downtown Boston. Lovely detail and unusual (for the period) insofar as it shows black soldiers.