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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

2014 visit to the battlefields


kevin donaldson

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Hello folks, all excited as I have just finished booking up my annual trip to The Somme and Flanders for August, after going out for 4 years with some very good friends I have decided to take my 11 year old son along as he has a keen interest in the great war also.

After being a passenger for 4 years in a car its my turn to drive, looking forward to it, we are having 2 nights in Ypres, then off for a night at Loos, then down the Somme for a further 2 nights.

Whilst in the different locations I am going to show my son where his ancestors fought and some died in this campaign, and giving him an understanding of these battlefields.

So roll on August with the boys, me my son and my mate

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Mid-July to mid-August should see a reduction in the number of cars in northern France as most of them have "gone south" for their holidays.

I drive around 30,000k each year in northern France and southern-Belgium in a French-built/delivered minibus but, I would be very scared of driving a British delivered vehicle on the opposite side of the road to home.

I asked a Brit once how he did it and he replied "I just follow the other cars".......sounds easy enough and, rather logical.

Good luck and hope you have a great time out with your son. Very special time together.

Peter

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Kevin, Unless you're totally incompetent, driving in France should present no real problems, as long as you take the basic precautions of preparing a route, preferably have a satnav (or bright 11 year old!). Ensure your car is legally equipped for French driving (hi viz etc- main driving organisations, Ferry or Chunnel websites give you the current details).

As you'll be driving on the wrong side, if you get to a toll booth you'll need someone in the passenger seat so try and park close enough so they can reach (Mrs Axe specialises in being so far over that I'm halfway out the window - very amusing for the drivers following! Have some coins or use a credit card for any large toll fees, you can check tolls etc on Via Michelin etc.

The main purpose is to enjoy it, you'll no doubt have prepared an itinerary and biogs of your ancestors (presumably not as far back as Agincourt and Crecy etc!)

No doubt Pals here will advise on suitable places to engage an 11 year old and fan the flames of his enthusiasm!

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I first took my son to The Somme when he was about that age, he loved it! since been back a few times together and it is always special!

Make sure you take him to the Museum in Perrone, Thiepval Wood tour, Albert Museum and Doms bar in Poziers.

Tony

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Biggest danger I've noticed after trips to the Continent over 30 plus years is when you return and you've concentrated on making sure that you drive on "the wrong side" so hard that you do it when back

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If there is any issue at all it is with

1. Small roundabouts, without helpful arrow indicator;

2. Priority from the right unless otherwise indicate (ie by yellow diamond or by broad black arrow crossed by a narrower line (eg and especially Arras).

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Car parks. The tendency to pull to the left when an oncoming car approaches.

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2. Priority from the right unless otherwise indicate (ie by yellow diamond or by broad black arrow crossed by a narrower line (eg and especially Arras).

And in Neuve Chapelle; I'm assuming you will take in the old front line from the Salient to Loos, you pass through some of the magnificent 1915 area that way, but be careful in NC! I've driven through the village countless times but it is still a bit hairy when cars just shoot straight out of a side road

Michelle

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Be shocked at the price of the tolls on the autoroute if you make extensive use of them - from the Frejus tunnel to Calais is just about £100 one way. Lovely driving (if no rain and no trucks: weekends [sunday especially] good for avoiding them).

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Nigel, if he ends up at the Frejus Tunnel toll I would guess he needs a new map reader or Tom Tom and his problems have only just begun.

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Thanks guys for all your great advice, thankfully I have a good friend who will be my passenger (helping me pay the toll fess ha ha), ive toured the somme and flanders numerous years but as a passenger, this year a driver.

1st night we are going to take in the Menin Gate last post, then off to the various battlefileds, and cemetaries, Tyne cot, ploegstreet etc.

Visiting Loos and the lone tree, following later onto Theipval where some of our relatives are on the memorial.

During the course of the week we will visiting loads of old battlefields, and cemetaries, to many to mention ha ha, but yes all prepared we have 2 sat navs, one in reserve, hi-vis, breatherlisers etc.

Hopefully in the next couple of years I am planning to take 3 generations of my family, myself, my father and my son as a bit of a pilgrimage.

If I get some good pictures I will only to happy to post them on the forum.

Thanks again for all the great advice

Kevin

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Kevin

I don't know if I am likely to get to Loos before September this year; can you please report back to me about the damage to Lone Tree? Last September there were several branches sawn off it. I'd be keen to know if it is starting to recover or if there has been further damage to the tree.

Many thanks Michelle

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Be shocked at the price of the tolls on the autoroute if you make extensive use of them - from the Frejus tunnel to Calais is just about £100 one way. Lovely driving (if no rain and no trucks: weekends [sunday especially] good for avoiding them).

Ah, but it is if you are starting from north western Italy, as some of us have the misfortune to do! Of course you can go the long way round, or via Switzerland (where you only have a one off payment to make to use their motorways), or over the top, so to speak (assuming not between say mid October and early April).

On driving on the correct side of the road - other danger times are when you first start off for the day, after a stop and after filling up with fuel, all times when one's mind might be on a higher plain.

On a slightly more serious note, re priority from the right - Arras can be tricky in this regard, as is Armentieres and so can one or two of the Somme and Artois villages be as well if you do not have your wits about you. Also beware that speed limits are not always signed as we might anticipate - eg villages (towns for that matter) are automatically 50 kph (or less - but then you are told) if its sign has a red border; and you are not out of the zone until you see the place's sign with a red diagonal line through it.

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  • 7 months later...

Be prepared to be shocked at how busy the traffic in England is, after a few days of blissfully quiet roads and motorways.

Got to say that so far its been great driving 2 days around Belgium, and today travelled to Vimy then Loos, traffic is really quite minimal so far

Be prepared to be shocked at how busy the traffic in England is, after a few days of blissfully quiet roads and motorways.

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Hello Michelle, just a quick reply to your thread, have been to Loos today and visited the Lone Tree, facing the tree in front of the small memorial, you can see where somebody has cut away about 6 or 7 of the trees branches on the right hand side of the tree, but it does seem to okay in my opinion, to be honest the tree looks very healthy, will try and post some pics up later.

Kevin

I don't know if I am likely to get to Loos before September this year; can you please report back to me about the damage to Lone Tree? Last September there were several branches sawn off it. I'd be keen to know if it is starting to recover or if there has been further damage to the tree.

Many thanks Michelle

Kevin

I don't know if I am likely to get to Loos before September this year; can you please report back to me about the damage to Lone Tree? Last September there were several branches sawn off it. I'd be keen to know if it is starting to recover or if there has been further damage to the tree.

Many thanks Michelle

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Thank you Kevin, will be there next month

Michelle

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