We were very pleased when our coach arrived at the hotel in Paris as it was a most difficult place to find and already 2 taxis and one coach had been lost getting there. Our driver, Christian Godet must be a wizard for there he was just a tad late ready for us to pack our bags aboard and leave.
We had an uneventful run up the A1 and dropped onto the Roman Road at point 13 which leads into Peronne. A must is a visit to the Museum of the Great War at Peronne and we made that our first stop. Arriving, on time at 10:45 we were met by Graham's long time friend Dominique Frere who is a senior curator at the Museum. He gave a welcome speech and explained the various rooms themes, discussed the Otto Dix Collection, one of only three in the world and he was then presented with a photograph of John Yates father who served here with the 18th Battalion and took part in the capture of Mont St Quentin in September 1918.Some social history papers were also presented.
MHT is gathering copies of diaries and other info that is of interest to the museum and will forward or present the papers at a later date. This is information that the museum has not been able to access until now.
The group enjoyed their visit to the museum and then went about their adventure in Peronne. A lovely small town on the Somme and really supportive to what our soldiers achieved inn WW1. You will find here a few shots of our group enjoying the coffee and some cakes while sitting in the town square taking in the atmosphere.
Our first battlefield presentation was at Mont St Quentin and I started at the 2 Div Memorial, went through the battle, discussed the flank protection by both 3 Div and the 13th Light Horse. I then moved the group further up the hill and explained the exploitation phase before venturing into the woods to explain the Australian Governments purchase and future plans. We met a farmer and a short friendly discussion proceeded.
Back on the coach and through the area of the 1918 battles of the Somme Valley, Cappy, Bray s Somme and finally we stropped at Proyart and I was able to show them on the ground were Sgt Percy Stratton had won his VC in 1918. The photo of a few of our group in the wheat field is at the spot were Percy heroically performed that incredible feat.
We continued to the Roman Road and headed towards Amiens stopping at Heath Cemetery. This was our first cemetery and an explanation as to what you find and where was conducted. We then gathered around the grave of Lieutenant Alfred Gaby VC, 28th Battalion and conducted a small service in honour of the 985 Australians,, 860 British, 9 Canadians, 6 New Zealanders and 2 South Africans who are buried there. A moving moment.
Amiens and our accommodation was our next stop. There was still time before dinner to explore Amiens and its Cathedral so many headed out into the Town.
Tomorrow we continue our visit to the Somme.
Colonel Graham Fleeton.