Rain, on a day we were hoping it would be fine as both groups are out and about in the open. The History Group left the hotel at 0830 a at 0915 arrived at Le Hamel where Ron gave a complete rundown of the planning, Monash’s special support initiatives to the infantry and the actual conduct of the battle itself. This was the first real insight into the planning and coordination details that Monash was to continue until 5th October 1918 when with his Australian Corps he left the field for the last time. At that stage the Corps had caused the damage to German Forces from which they never recovered. This then sets us up for tomorrow when we follow the Corps as it strides forward to Victory.
The group then moved on to Pozieres, The Windmill, Bertangles, where Monash was Knighted by the King and finally the crash site of the Red Barron and into Amiens for a viewing of this main city of the Somme with its imposing Cathedral.
While all this was going on, the Pipes and Drums had an appointment with the Mayor and people of Dernancourt. They arrived at Dernancourt a little early which gave Steve time to take them through the battle fought there and the cemetery that lies close to the village. The Mayor and the welcoming party arrived while the Pipes were warming up. In the meantime another coach from our company Le Carriers Picardie arrived and we were confused as we thought it was the History Group, however, it had aboard the Cranbourne Chorale Group who were having a tour around the area before returning to Villers-Bretonneux where they were to take part in a concert accompanying the Melbourne Chamber Choir. They in fact were trying to locate a grave within the cemetery of a family member of one of the group. When found, we conducted a small Service at the Gravesite. They were most thankful to have run into us and pleased to have that Service.
The Pipes and Drums were ready to proceed and with the Gendarmerie car leading and the children of the village walking behind, they set off on their March through the village to the village Memorial. There we conducted a Service and the Mayor laid a wreath during the Lament to honour all those lost in the battle at Dernancourt. We adjourned to the School playground and the Pipes and Drums again entertained the children of that school. It was lovely seeing these little pre-schoolers and infants clapping in appreciation. The recital was followed by refreshments and some presentations. We presented an Australian Flag, that was given to us by the Australian Government for the Mayor and also a book of Australian Symbols for the School. This book included many photos of birds and animals associated with the various State symbols, will be well read I feel. While refreshments being taken, the Drummers encouraged the children to beat the drums, which they did and Frank tried to teach the Mayor to play the Pipes, a red face and a couple of sounds seemed quite enough for first try. Time to leave came too soon but before doing so, we visited the exhibition within the Church. Pre war Dernancourt to during and post the War, the photos and engraving told the story.
Off we went and as Geoff had a close friend’s relative buried at Beacon Cemetery we went there for a small Service and Lunch. Le Hamel next and then home. Tomorrow, Amiens Cathedral.