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Remembered Today:

Serre


blighty valley

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Be warned that the farmer at the entrance to the memorial park is stopping cars from going up the lane and parking outside serre road 3 he stopped us last week and someone who told him he has no right to do this and parked there anyway when he came back a tractor was parked behind his car Michael

Edited by blighty valley
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You have obviously never read the previous posts going back years about this subject. Quite entertaining.

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Iam sorry I never read your first thread I though I was being helpful

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Oops apologies Blighty, my post wasn't a dig or sarcasm merely a sort of resigned acceptance that it is still happening, unfortunately that was in my head and not conveyed to my fingers.

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Always been a pain , only problem we have ever encounter when on Somme.

TK

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I had this last summer and when the tractor blocked me in I got my deckchair, flask and sandwiches out of the boot and sat in the cemetery for an hour reading my book. He then got fed up and drove off in his tractor.

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I had this last summer and when the tractor blocked me in I got my deckchair, flask and sandwiches out of the boot and sat in the cemetery for an hour reading my book. He then got fed up and drove off in his tractor.

:D

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Apologies accepted

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You can still get up the lane but you have to park your car in a car park at the side of the main road and walk up

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Do what I do, go in from the Serre end of the lane (enter serre past the pals memorial) turn left, then at the big farm turn left. the track is a bit bumpy but usuable.

m-b

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Hello all.

If i recall correctly, there's a sign at the start of the dirt track up to the Sheffield Memorial Park saying No Coachs. But nothing about cars. What's the Farmers problem?

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Hello all.

If i recall correctly, there's a sign at the start of the dirt track up to the Sheffield Memorial Park saying No Coachs. But nothing about cars. What's the Farmers problem?

Perhaps yesterday? Three cars entering that track at speed circa 10.30 a.m; Jaguar, Mercedes and a Porsche, raising dust. All three female passengers get out for a pee at the north end of the farmyard and disappear while the blokes aren't so coy. Farmer (and son?) turn up in a Peuegot 205 and remonstrate. I'd be pretty fed up if I owned that land.

Meanwhile a group of school-kids from SE London walk past. Just another day on the Somme. Traffic lights next?

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Driving a Porsche up that track would indicate that it is either a high end rental or the driver has the arrogance that comes with money so signs don't matter.

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As ever it is usually a small minority - probably a very small minority - that cause the problems. Usually these consist of leaving a car unattended in a position that blocks the track or else it is people field walking over his crops. A very small minority might be one in a hundred or even less, but if your land happens to include one of the most visited parts of the battlefield, this soon adds up and the inconvenience can be considerable. Of course people have the right to drive up to the cemeteries and stop if there is somewhere available to park off the track; equally he has the right to have his land and livelihood respected. I imagine that it is the frustration of it all that gets his goat, so that people who are being respectful (examples above) as regards the land get it in the ear.

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I am completely with the farmer on this; presumably the track is on his land so he has every right to restrict vehicle access. Why anyone would want to drive to the memorial park is a mystery to me as parking is available near to the cemeteries on the main road. I can see that this may cause problems for those with mobility issues but that is just a fact of life when visiting the battlefields.

I suggest that if the farmer is having problems then a gate across the entrance to the path together with a pedestrian access would solve the problem. In this case no doubt the CWGC operating in the area could be given a key or code to the gate to allow maintenance.

Perhaps we can draw a parallel with the Newfoundland battlefield park which is pedestrian access only and nobody would suggest that private vehicles should ever be allowed access. As with Serre this place contains war cemeteries and the memorial to the 51st Div which are all a reasonable distance from the entrance. I see no discernable differences between the two locations.

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Nobody bar the farmers who have land accessed by the lane have the right to drive up there. If we do so it is at our own risk and they have the right to ask us to leave. The person under discussion here is unpredictable but usually responsive to a kind word or two (especially about Dame J.D.) If you do need to drive up to the park then it would be politic to call at the house and ask. It is all very sensitive at the moment as discussions get under way for events next summer. The event organisers for July 1st haven't even been announced by the DCMS as yet (the tender only going out in January) so we need to be very careful if relations are not to be soured leading to areas being made 'difficult' to access. The experience so far is that a lot of smaller organisations are making plans for next year but all is very uncoordinated at the moment. One was surprised when it was pointed out that working with the local Marie might be a good idea. The heavy local involvement in the ANZAC remembrance event in Longueval yesterday was good evidence of how involved the locals are willing to be and was a credit to all those who ensured it happened that way. A good example for all that needs to be done next year.

Jim

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I fully agree with Norman. You can sometimes see that coaches or minibuses have gone up there and attempted a three point turn, damaging the crops and leaving great ruts by the cemetery. I should think that it can be enormously frustrating for the farmer. I am not surprised that he occasionaly becomes a bit irritated.

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I have every sympathy with the farmer. As has been pointed out it is perfectly possible to walk to the Memorial Park from the cemeteries on the main road. It is his land and perhaps more importantly his livelihood, working machinery being blocked by other vehicles will cost him time and money. I think if it were me I would certainly be irritated. Also the track becomes very slippery after rain so I imagine that vehicles getting stuck is a fairly common occurrence.

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Having been up the track many years ago on foot and on MTB, I fully sympathise with the farmer. After all, how would many feel about having their drive blocked? I cannot understand why anyone would want to take a car along there let alone a bus,unless they had some mobility problem. Perhaps it is a case that as a society we have become so used to driving, or maybe people are too lazy. They should get out there on foot, better experience if you ask me, and also better for their health all round. Sometimes I get the feeling that we think we own the battlefields because our forebears fought there, it is France and belongs to the French.

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I'm a bit of a selfish poster on this forum. I generally ask questions of those with greater knowledge than me rather than provide answers.

I had to comment on the Serre issue though. It was an eye opener on Friday. As well as the Grand Prix brigade that turned up as we were leaving, there were three coaches parked on the road when we arrived plus a couple of other 'normal' visitors' cars.

It was busy, very busy, with two schools at the memorial park and another school at No1&2. At the Ulster Tower (unfortunately closed at our visit due to refurbishment work) there were two more coaches with schools eating lunch.

It's great to see the interest and of course it's a prime place now for school visits but I, remembering the solitude of my first visits to the Western Front in the early eighties, wonder whether next year will be a watershed in relationships between visitors and the local population. I have never had issues asking whether I could walk across private land and my schoolboy French has been good enough to share polite conversation. But damage and lack of respect, not for the cemeteries but for the sites, seems to be all too present.

Coach parties present challenges for many areas - just ask those that live in rural Devon and Cornwall - and perhaps there is no answer if we are not to turn so many of the once silent areas into theme parks. I have seen the Welsh 38th Memorial at Mametz 'grow' from a solitary and some what poignant mark of respect and somewhat inaccessible to those who felt or were unable to leave a car a way away to a 'stop' that is now accessible to all with Tarmac road, a turning circle, mown turf and a recent over-large set of galvanised steps. Victor Meldrew like, I think it's a pity and has detracted from the solitude of Mametz and Flatiron Copse not added to it.

I reflect today that my own few days on the Somme this week, taking two relatives out to see the grave of another relative that no one has been to before has only added to the tourist trail. Perhaps the hotels, restaurants and bars of Cambrai, Arras and Albert are the other side of the coin.

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Is it not also a question of respect for this place was the scene of so much death and suffering and has never been despoiled by development therefore we should cherish and protect such places and be glad that things are much the same as they were in 1916. So no vehicles of any description please save those of the farmer and the CWGC who maintain the war graves here to their usual high standard.

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Norman

PS I wonder whether the farmer has spoken to both the local authority and the CWGC to sound out their views on the vehicle gate + pedestrian access proposal.(Similar to that used in nature reserves which work well in the UK) Perhaps one of our French friends or an ex-pat could find out.

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I will (fingers crossed) be visiting the Somme this coming month, my first time since the 90s, and before then visited on bicycles. I agree with the solitude from the above post, I once walked the battlefield from Serre, and ended up at Thiepval and hardly saw a soul. I wonder now if I will find a Grasmere or Malham type environment, i.e packed with others. I remember the mid 1980s, visiting Thiepval in July 1986 (not on the 1st) and it being a quiet part of rural France.

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In Sheffield Park last Monday, nobody in sight. It's not all doom and gloom! If a coach party arrives, go and spend some time in Serre No 2 until they have gone.

Jim

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Just at the front edge of the wood you can see this cross. It was raised in remembrance of Private Albert Bull from the Sheffield City Battalion whose body was found on this spot in 1928. Although he has since been buried in Serre Road No2 Cemetery (Grave: XIX E 16) his family wanted him to have a marker on the front line of the Sheffields position.

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