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Remembered Today:

Centenary of the Somme 2016


Mark Hone
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In the Summer of 2006 I took a small group of pupils, mainly cadets, to the Somme where we did a mini-battlefields tour and took part in the 90th anniversary commemoration at Thiepval. The trip was judged a great success and I am inevitably contemplating whether to attempt a similar venture in 2016. I know that people will advise against going around the centenary of the first day to avoid the crowds and problems of accommodation etc but I wonder if anyone else on the Forum is already contemplating attendance? The trip would be in addition to our regular October battlefields tour which would of course also be Somme-based that year.

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Do you mean 1/7/2016 Mark. I imagine it will be extremely busy, but great to be there 100 years to the day? If you get accomodation booked, why not?

Mike

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One possibility might be going under canvas if we can find a suitable camp site. That's what the North Wales ACF (the only other cadet group there in 2006) did.

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One possibility might be going under canvas if we can find a suitable camp site. That's what the North Wales ACF (the only other cadet group there in 2006) did.

Bivouac? Hope the weather's as good as it was 100 years ago.

Mike

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It was 30-odd degrees in 2006; people were being overcome by the heat and one of my lads had to take over an RBL standard when the bearer couldn't carry on. It was a similar story in 1986 when my most vivid memory is of French paratroopers keeling over like ninepins.

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It was a similar story in 1986 when my most vivid memory is of French paratroopers keeling over like ninepins.

Hot too in 1991 with various fainting standard bearers.

I fancy going and camping but would imagine that there will be dignitaries and road closures.

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London Scottish regimental Association has a trip planned. We'll be going to Gommecourt (obviously).

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My school are hoping to arrange a trip. We traditionally go right at the end of term, so around the 20th July which (and we are probably being hopelessly optimistic here) we hope might make it a little less crowded in centenary year.

David

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We had accommodation booked, but on reflection decided to cancel and now are going later on, probably september. When hopefully, there will be less 'restricted' areas and us plebs can meander at will.

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Me and a mate Dave Vaux are planning to put a display on for 1 July 2016 regarding the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Somme 1916.

Avril at Auchonvillers has agreed to let us use the new tea room conversion in renovated barn across the road from present tearoom.

Going over in March to get some pictures etc.

For the 90th Anniversary Auchonvillers was jammed solid with loads of living history guys all camping village green behind memorial

Terry

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  • 3 months later...

The Centenary should be centred on the men and women who went to the Somme and fell there and the commemorations should be open to their families rather than to officials who will promise that it will never happen again and celebrate Haig, Snow and some other butchers.

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Interesting point but I would suggest that a significant number who turn up on 1st July have no direct family link with the Somme and despite the aggravation with parking, diversions etc, if you plan in advance there won't be an issue. With the exception of last year I have attended every year since 1994 and have never seen or heard anyone 'celebrate' WW1. The 'officials' are there representing their governments, armed forces and veterans organisations, I do have a bit of a problem with the WAGs, hangers on and bag carriers occupying the front row seats while people are leaning on sticks but hey ho that's life at the top table.

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It is just not somewhere I would want to be, but there again I tend to avoid all of the big ceremonies as much as possible. It would just make me bad tempered and grumpy, unlike my normal sunny disposition (?!), as I suspect that the whole Auchonvillers - Authuille - Pozieres (via La Boisselle) - Grandcourt area will be one massive security zone, making getting from A to B a logistics nightmare. If I were to be in France/Belgium at the time I would spend the day around the Arras or Cambrai battlefields and turn up on the Somme a few days after - 1st July next year will be a Friday and so I would have thought that the Monday would be relatively safe ... I can see them running a bus service from the Meaulte airfield to get people around.

However, chacun a son gout ....

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I was on the Somme on July 1st 2006 and won't be repeating the visit next year because our whole experience was ruined due to road closures, we were unable to get to Lochnagar for the 7:30 ceremony without a huge detour (we were camping at Avril's) and only got to Thiepval because one of our party pretended he had hurt his leg and a policeman flagging a bus down so that he didn't have to walk any further :thumbsup: . We then had to walk from Thiepval back to Avril's after the ceremony and yes it was very hot.

Also another abiding memory was watching the Ulstermen having to march (parade) from Thiepval to the Ulster tower on the day before (30th June), because they had been told that with all the dignitaries being there on July 1st their annual rememberance parade was not allowed.

The one thing we managed to do during that visit that stood out (besides meeting like minded people at Avril's) was because of being unable to get to Lochnagar we went to plan B and headed to Gommecourt (unhindered) and were the first to lay a wreath on that day at the Gommecourt wood cemetery in honour of the 46th North Midland Division.

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There was a service on 01/07/2006 at the Ulster Tower and coaches laid on to take people up to Thiepval from Newfoundland Park and the Ulster Tower.

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There was a service on 01/07/2006 at the Ulster Tower and coaches laid on to take people up to Thiepval from Newfoundland Park and the Ulster Tower.

There might have been coaches laid on from Newfoundland park but the info we had been told was that the only place you could board them was at/around Albert. I can only speak from my experience and that was one of chaos. Also a large number of visitors at Thiepval did not attend the official ceremony preferring to stay around the car park area until the 'dignitaries' had left and they could then pay their respects at the memorial.

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