October weekend ride. Day 2. Brussels – Ypres – Beaumont Hamel Memorial – Thiepval – Calais – London

I woke up at 6 a.m. – Washed, changed, packer my bags and stepped out to into a foggy Brussels morning. I had around 80 miles to ride in the morning to meet the guys in Ypres for breakfast at 8 a.m. !

The visibility was near zero at some points and then the further out of town the fog started to disperse. The temperature was hovering above zero most of the way there, eventually making it to +3c by the time I made it through to Ypres.

I found the hotel where the guys were staying and went inside to warm up, have a cup of coffee and have a chat with them! It was nice to see them after such a long time!

After breakfast was finished, we met by the bikes and fired them up and rode out to Beaumont-Hamel. As you can see it was still pretty foggy in places. 

And a wee bit cold. Could do with some heated boots perhaps! 

The ride took us through the flat farmlands, past the villages and countryside, autumn was in full swing. 

We stopped for a moment to check the maps and find our destination. For the morning. The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial.

It’s funded and run by Canada. All the staff are Canadian students on 4 month secondments from their respective representing province.

[From Wikipedia] – The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the commemoration of Dominion of Newfoundland forces members who were killed during World War I.

The 74-acre (300,000 m2) preserved battlefield park encompasses the grounds over which the Newfoundland Regiment made their unsuccessful attack on 1 July 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

The Battle of the Somme was the regiment’s first major engagement, and during an assault that lasted approximately 30 minutes the regiment was all but wiped out. Purchased in 1921 by the people of Newfoundland, the memorial site is the largest battalion memorial on the Western Front, and the largest area of the Somme battlefield that has been preserved. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.

Officially opened by British Field Marshal Earl Haig in 1925, the memorial site is one of only two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside of Canada. (The other is the Canadian National Vimy Memorial). The memorial site and experience of the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel has come to represent the Newfoundland First World War experience. As a result, it has become a Newfoundland symbol of sacrifice and a source of identity.

The Danger Tree

School children on tour.
Known Unto God

After Beaumont-Hamel we saddled up again and headed to Thiepval to the War Memorial and museum.

Each poppy has a hand written note for the fallen. This is only a few of them.

Inside the museum they have all sorts of artifacts and objects of war that have been dug up by local farmers over the years. It’s mind boggling to even try and put yourself in a soldiers shoes and imagine what they went through.

So many young lives, so pointlessly taken.

I never knew the the front line moved back and forth so many miles both ways for so long without gaining any real ground until the end. It’s just awful to think of. 

The memorial, at 45 metres high, is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world. Its walls are clad in brick and its sixteen piers are faced with Portland stone on which the names of the “Missing” are engraved.

The men commemorated here come from all social backgrounds and their ages range from 15 to 60 years old with an average age of 25. The memorial and cemetery are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Lest we forget.

How others so selflessly layed down theirs lives so that we can have peace, democracy and choices in life. They had none but to stand and fight.

One thought on “October weekend ride. Day 2. Brussels – Ypres – Beaumont Hamel Memorial – Thiepval – Calais – London

  1. Very moving and interesting Julian. Sad to know that the first troops thought that it would all be over by Christmas. Little did they know what useless carnage was to ensue over the next five years. The politicians and generals should have hung their heads in shame. Love Dad xxx


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