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Remembered Today:

Visiting the Somme


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My father, Ted and I are visiting the Somme in a couple of weeks in memory of my great grandfather Albert Beckett. Albert was in the 56th Battalion, 14th Brigade, 5th Division of the Australian Army. He was 33 years of age when he died - not sure where he died or where he is buried. Our research mentions the D110.4 if anyone knows where that is? - also 'Switch', 'Needle' and 'Rose' trenches. We will be staying near Bapaume. Grateful for any help. :rolleyes:

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Kathyrn,

this could be your man, sadly has no known grave but is remembered on a memorial;

BECKETT, ALBERT

Initials: A

Nationality: Australian

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Australian Infantry, A.I.F.

Unit Text: 56th Bn.

Date of Death: 30/11/1916

Service No: 2582

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Memorial: VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL

Regards and have a great trip,

Scottie.

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kathryn,

details of the Memorial;

VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL

Country: France

Locality: Somme

Visiting Information: This memorial stands within Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery. October 2008 Note: Horticultural renovation will take place in the cemetery in annual phases, commencing in November 2008 and ending in 2010. Access to the tower at the memorial will be restricted during bad weather conditions. During working hours wheelchair access to Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery, in which the memorial stands, is possible by an alternative entrance. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact our Enquiries Section on 01628 507200. The names are engraved on the memorial in order of battalion, then alphabetically under rank.

Location Information: Villers-Bretonneux is a village 16 kilometres east of Amiens on the straight main road to St Quentin. Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery is about 2 kilometres north of the village on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

Historical Information: Villers-Bretonneux became famous in 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry on 23 April. On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the whole of the village and on 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens. The VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL is the Australian national memorial erected to commemorate all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, to their dead, and especially to those of the dead whose graves are not known. The 10,770 Australian servicemen actually named on the memorial died in the battlefields of the Somme, Arras, the German advance of 1918 and the Advance to Victory. The memorial stands within VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MILITARY CEMETERY, which was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds in the area and from the battlefields. Plots I to XX were completed by 1920 and contain mostly Australian graves, almost all from the period March to August 1918. Plots IIIA, VIA, XIIIA and XVIA, and Rows in other Plots lettered AA, were completed by 1925, and contain a much larger proportion of unidentified graves brought from a wider area. Later still, 444 graves were brought in from Dury Hospital Military Cemetery. There are now 2,141 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 608 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to five casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to 15 buried in other cemeteries whose graves could not be found on concentration. The cemetery also contains the graves of two New Zealand airmen of the Second World War. Both the cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The memorial was unveiled by King George VI on 22 July 1938.

No. of Identified Casualties: 10773

Regards,

Scottie.

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There are 2 Switch Trenches. One is between High & Delville Woods and the other on the Leipzig Salient. Map refs: 632+/2559+ for the former, and 624/2561

Needle Tranch is 800m E of E Flers. Map ref: 635/2531

Rose Trench is SE from Fricourt Wood. Map ref: 627/2555

Hope this is helpful.

Enjoy your trip.

Martin

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Thank you to all who have responded so far. As you will propably realise by now, i'm not familiar with forums. What a great way to source information, why didn't I do it sooner?

Regards

Kathryn

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Hi again Kathryn.

Perhaps I may need to explain that the link I posted are to Alberts official service papers. You can click on the link for page 1 then click "next" for the next page etc. There are 26 pages in his records.

Regards

John

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Hi Kathryn

Welcome to the forum. One thing to think about is transport. Hire car is the best but in towns there are buses. Trains between main towns are pretty good. If using public transport you would have problems getting a bus to High Wood or many of the Somme villages. I would always recommend hiring a car either in Amiens or if you fly into Paris, at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Switch trench at High Wood runs just behind it and just cutting the top left corner (as you face the wood from the road). There is a small road to the right of the wood that runs to a memorial. High Wood is private property and should not be entered.

Villers Brettonneux is a Aussi friendly village with many shops even having things like Kangaroo warning signs in the windows. Buy your Vegemite there! Should raise a smile.

Good luck

John

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Kathryn - if you follow this link, you will find the war diary for the 56th Battalion for November 1916. Looking at the entries for the end of November, you will see Switch Trench and Rose Trench mentioned, as well as Needle Dump. I'll see if I can find some trench maps showing these locations

Alan

http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/23/AWM4-23-73-10.pdf

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Hi again Kathryn.

Perhaps I may need to explain that the link I posted are to Alberts official service papers. You can click on the link for page 1 then click "next" for the next page etc. There are 26 pages in his records.

Regards

John

I've printed them all off. My father had verbal information on the documents from a few years ago, don't think the documents had been uploaded then, so thanks for that.

Regards,

Kath

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Kathryn - if you follow this link, you will find the war diary for the 56th Battalion for November 1916. Looking at the entries for the end of November, you will see Switch Trench and Rose Trench mentioned, as well as Needle Dump. I'll see if I can find some trench maps showing these locations

Alan

http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/23/AWM4-23-73-10.pdf

Thanks Alan, grateful for your help

Regards

Kath

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Hi Kathryn

Welcome to the forum. One thing to think about is transport. Hire car is the best but in towns there are buses. Trains between main towns are pretty good. If using public transport you would have problems getting a bus to High Wood or many of the Somme villages. I would always recommend hiring a car either in Amiens or if you fly into Paris, at Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Switch trench at High Wood runs just behind it and just cutting the top left corner (as you face the wood from the road). There is a small road to the right of the wood that runs to a memorial. High Wood is private property and should not be entered.

Villers Brettonneux is a Aussi friendly village with many shops even having things like Kangaroo warning signs in the windows. Buy your Vegemite there! Should raise a smile.

Good luck

John

Thanks John,

I'm driving down - i've done quite alot of driving in Spain so should be ok. I'll let everyone know when we get back. Thank you

Regards

Kath

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There is, regretably, a lot of theft from parked cars on the Somme.

Avoid leaving anything of value visible.

Always lock when you leave, even for a moment.

Try to keep car in sight.

The hot spots vary, but the visitors centres at Delville Wood and Thiepval, also Newfoundland attract their fair share.

Another bad place is Arras, the Mur des Fusilees at the Citadelle. My minibus party was robbed very extensively and quickly by two swarthy gentlemen. The police said it happens all the time.

But don't let me put you off!

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  • 4 years later...

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