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'.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
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