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Remembered Today:

Ypres to Arras and back in a day?


neverforget
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Mr Plumb, Grumpy's advice is very sound. There is guaranteed to be an inscription on a gravestone that will bring a lump to the throat. The interesting thing is that it often happens when you don't expect it. Sometimes it is just a view or a vantage point; when I was on the Somme in late June we emerged from the village of Ovilliers and Mash Valley opened up in front of me. When you know what happened there that sunny Saturday morning it just hits you.

I think we are all looking forward to your trip.

Pete.

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I was prepared for this, but you find your way to a little cemetery in a village, and there it is ... The final resting place of an old boy from a little school far away, with the inscription 'Go Forward' his school motto, placed there by his family. You stand there paying respect for the past and present generation of schoolboys, with a lump in the throat and that grit in your eye.

I have to say it is difficult to have only one visit to the battlefields, so many different experiences that draw you back again and again.

As Pete says we are looking forward to your trip!

Cheers

Shirley

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Mr Plumb, Grumpy's advice is very sound. There is guaranteed to be an inscription on a gravestone that will bring a lump to the throat. The interesting thing is that it often happens when you don't expect it. Sometimes it is just a view or a vantage point; when I was on the Somme in late June we emerged from the village of Ovilliers and Mash Valley opened up in front of me. When you know what happened there that sunny Saturday morning it just hits you.

I think we are all looking forward to your trip.

Pete.

I was prepared for this, but you find your way to a little cemetery in a village, and there it is ... The final resting place of an old boy from a little school far away, with the inscription 'Go Forward' his school motto, placed there by his family. You stand there paying respect for the past and present generation of schoolboys, with a lump in the throat and that grit in your eye.

I have to say it is difficult to have only one visit to the battlefields, so many different experiences that draw you back again and again.

As Pete says we are looking forward to your trip!

Cheers

Shirley

That`s very kind of you both. If only you knew how pertinent are your words. My threshold in that department doesn`t sit very high, and as you say, the most unexpected triggers can set me off. Sometimes even a thought. I fully expect to find the whole thing emotionally exhausting, but I just can`t wait now. Already I am looking forward to succumbing to yet another addiction, which I know is what is going to happen once I get over there.

take it easy, people, or he will be wanting us to sponsor him!

Now there`s a thought :thumbsup::)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Be sure to take first aid kit, fire extinguisher, breathalyser and high viz. There is probably something I have forgotten but it's a legal requirement for some of these, can't remember what though. Far cheaper to buy here than when you get to the tunnel/ferry.

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Be sure to take first aid kit, fire extinguisher, breathalyser and high viz. There is probably something I have forgotten but it's a legal requirement for some of these, can't remember what though. Far cheaper to buy here than when you get to the tunnel/ferry.

Car headlight masks/ adjust.

Invaluable advice gentlemen, many thanks. I had no idea about any of this, and as such would have been completely unprepared.

Everything that you both list I can see the sense in, but the breathalyser does surprise me I must say. Being a first-timer to continental driving though, I suspect that I shall be in for one or two more surprises along the way.

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If driving a right hand drive car on the continent for the first time, use the mantra:

"my right hand knuckles must drag in the gutter!"

and tie a white hanky round the rim of the steering wheel for a day or two.

ask any front passenger to be vigilant, terrified even.

The worst scenario is when the road ahead is empty, one has no visial reminders,

As you enter any village or town, its name plate on the right hand side MEANS 50 km/hr IN LAW.

The crossed through sign at the end means end of limit.

Joke coming up:

"I want to die happily in my sleep like Granpa, not screaming in terror like his passengers!"

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If driving a right hand drive car on the continent for the first time, use the mantra:

"my right hand knuckles must drag in the gutter!"

and tie a white hanky round the rim of the steering wheel for a day or two.

ask any front passenger to be vigilant, terrified even.

The worst scenario is when the road ahead is empty, one has no visial reminders,

As you enter any village or town, its name plate on the right hand side MEANS 50 km/hr IN LAW.

The crossed through sign at the end means end of limit.

Joke coming up:

"I want to die happily in my sleep like Granpa, not screaming in terror like his passengers!"

Brilliant stuff Grumpy! :w00t:

My passengers must be ahead of the game. Both of them are already terrified, and I haven`t even asked them yet.

The other thing that fills them with dread is when I start unloading my Del-boy French upon the locals.

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And also remember that a sign with a yellow diamond with a white line on the diagonal through it means drivers approaching from the right have priority, so be very aware when driving through towns and villages that drivers coming in from the right will not give way to you, you have to give way to them

Michelle

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It's worth looking at where you're going with Google Streetview. I did a similar trip but with nights in Arras and Ypres. Familiarisation with routes to hotels and sites etc. paid off in spades, allowing for a seamless journey and more time on the battlefields.

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Overall consult the motoring organisations AA or RAC websites....they have a comprehensive list of mandatory requirements to drive in all mainland Europe countries including images of the Priority to the Right rule signs.

Driving.......steering wheel to the right....important to remember while pulling out of supermarkets,filling stations,comfort stops and the like.

Roundabouts same principle as the UK with those on the roundabout having priority which means with left hand drive systems giving priority to traffic from the left

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And also remember that a sign with a yellow diamond with a white line on the diagonal through it means drivers approaching from the right have priority, so be very aware when driving through towns and villages that drivers coming in from the right will not give way to you, you have to give way to them

Michelle

Thanks Michelle. Now that is scary!

It's worth looking at where you're going with Google Streetview. I did a similar trip but with nights in Arras and Ypres. Familiarisation with routes to hotels and sites etc. paid off in spades, allowing for a seamless journey and more time on the battlefields.

Overall consult the motoring organisations AA or RAC websites....they have a comprehensive list of mandatory requirements to drive in all mainland Europe countries including images of the Priority to the Right rule signs.

Driving.......steering wheel to the right....important to remember while pulling out of supermarkets,filling stations,comfort stops and the like.

Roundabouts same principle as the UK with those on the roundabout having priority which means with left hand drive systems giving priority to traffic from the left

Great advice, thanks. All appreciated, and taken on board.

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Amazon did very good deals on the first aid kit etc, Halfords expensive. We put the headlight stickers on whilst hanging round at the tunnel so we were ready at the other end. As someone mentioned the AA RAC or Greenflag website will tell you all you need to know. I found driving over there a real pleasure, especially Belgium. Far less cars on the road which are often long,straight and wide. They also seem very friendly on the roads and give you plenty of room. You will love it and be planning your next trip before you get home.

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I always find driving in France much more pleasurable than in the UK, I'm sure that you'll find it no problem. www.viamichelin.com is good for route-planning which I always enjoy nearly as much as the trip itself !

Have a wonderful time !

Steve

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Thanks to you both. That's very encouraging. I'm finding everyone's help and good wishes quite overwhelming.

What a marvellous band of brothers and sisters we have on this GWF.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Neverforget, don't panic too much about driving in France/Belgium...

It helps if you always park, pull in, or turn off for fuel on the right-hand side of the road (i.e. the side you should be driving on when you start off again). (My personal danger-point is starting off first thing in the morning on an empty country road, when I have once or twice found myself proceeding merrily along on the wrong side.)

You no longer have to carry a pair of breathalysers; it was briefly a law, but it is now officially stated that there are no penalties for not having them.

You have to have a warning triangle in case of breakdown; and a hi-vis jacket - which MUST be in the driver's compartment, not in the boot.

You have to carry at all times the originals of your car's registration document; current insurance cover (which should have a paragraph on the back, in several languages, stating that it covers the vehicle for use in other European countries; if in doubt, contact your insurer to see if you have to take out extra cover for your trip). Also the driver must have on him/her at all times their UK driving licence, and ID - in our case that will have to be a passport, as we don't have ID cards). So make sure other members of your party bring their own licences just in case you want to share the driving.

Most road signs are similar to the UK ones, but in France (I don't know about Belgium) there are a few unfamiliar ones below to be specially aware of:

The yellow "lozenge" that confirms you are on a road that has priority over ones joining it; when this has a black band across it, it means the road no longer has priority.

The broad black vertical with a thin vertical across it means that you have priority over (just) the next road on the right.

And the HUGELY important black X, which means that the next road on the right has priority - and believe me, the locals will absolutely zoom out without a care in the world, so used are they to this system that seems incredible to us. When that black X is at the beginning of a village, it means that all the roads in the village enjoy this "priorité à droite". You just have to develop a habit of glancing ahead, in town or country, at an upcoming small road on the right to see if it has any white band - solid or dotted - across it as reassurance that you will have the priority.

For paying motorway tolls in France, you collect a ticket on entering the motorway, and then insert it in a machine at the exit and pay the toll - either to a person in a booth, or you can just stick a UK credit card in the slot of a machine (no need to punch in a code). I think the Belgian motorways are free, but I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. You will often see an orange T sign above the lanes, as well as others indicating you can hand over coins etc. The T refers to cars with a transponder(?), the gadget that automatically clocks up the payment. Where there are multiple toll-both lanes, there will be one or two over to the extreme left that are for the T-equipped cars ONLY; there will be no faclity to pay in any other way. So avoid those, or you will not be popular! But at the smaller places, the unmanned gates take all forms of payment, not just the T ones (though the T will be hanging above the lane as well as indications of other ways to pay). Sorry, have I made that too confusing?

Angela

(oooh, sorry; I tried to make the images come up in the order in which I mentioned them, but they look to be arranging themselves any old how)

post-8521-0-81620400-1455367898.gif

post-8521-0-34982200-1455367908.gif

post-8521-0-23325200-1455367919.gif

post-8521-0-13166900-1455367936.gif

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I find driving on the continent easier than uk. But, after spending a couple of weeks bumbling around the battlefields,a few years ago, travelling back to Lincoln on a Saturday, then going out to the shop early on the Sunday. Guess what? I was driving on the right!! Oh dear wakey wakey!

Enjoy your trip

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Neverforget, don't panic too much about driving in France/Belgium...

It helps if you always park, pull in, or turn off for fuel on the right-hand side of the road (i.e. the side you should be driving on when you start off again). (My personal danger-point is starting off first thing in the morning on an empty country road, when I have once or twice found myself proceeding merrily along on the wrong side.)

You no longer have to carry a pair of breathalysers; it was briefly a law, but it is now officially stated that there are no penalties for not having them.

You have to have a warning triangle in case of breakdown; and a hi-vis jacket - which MUST be in the driver's compartment, not in the boot.

You have to carry at all times the originals of your car's registration document; current insurance cover (which should have a paragraph on the back, in several languages, stating that it covers the vehicle for use in other European countries; if in doubt, contact your insurer to see if you have to take out extra cover for your trip). Also the driver must have on him/her at all times their UK driving licence, and ID - in our case that will have to be a passport, as we don't have ID cards). So make sure other members of your party bring their own licences just in case you want to share the driving.

Most road signs are similar to the UK ones, but in France (I don't know about Belgium) there are a few unfamiliar ones below to be specially aware of:

The yellow "lozenge" that confirms you are on a road that has priority over ones joining it; when this has a black band across it, it means the road no longer has priority.

The broad black vertical with a thin vertical across it means that you have priority over (just) the next road on the right.

And the HUGELY important black X, which means that the next road on the right has priority - and believe me, the locals will absolutely zoom out without a care in the world, so used are they to this system that seems incredible to us. When that black X is at the beginning of a village, it means that all the roads in the village enjoy this "priorité à droite". You just have to develop a habit of glancing ahead, in town or country, at an upcoming small road on the right to see if it has any white band - solid or dotted - across it as reassurance that you will have the priority.

For paying motorway tolls in France, you collect a ticket on entering the motorway, and then insert it in a machine at the exit and pay the toll - either to a person in a booth, or you can just stick a UK credit card in the slot of a machine (no need to punch in a code). I think the Belgian motorways are free, but I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong. You will often see an orange T sign above the lanes, as well as others indicating you can hand over coins etc. The T refers to cars with a transponder(?), the gadget that automatically clocks up the payment. Where there are multiple toll-both lanes, there will be one or two over to the extreme left that are for the T-equipped cars ONLY; there will be no faclity to pay in any other way. So avoid those, or you will not be popular! But at the smaller places, the unmanned gates take all forms of payment, not just the T ones (though the T will be hanging above the lane as well as indications of other ways to pay). Sorry, have I made that too confusing?

Angela

(oooh, sorry; I tried to make the images come up in the order in which I mentioned them, but they look to be arranging themselves any old how)

Thank you so much Angela, for your most extensive post. So much useful advice and help. It is very generous of you, and is well appreciated.

I find driving on the continent easier than uk. But, after spending a couple of weeks bumbling around the battlefields,a few years ago, travelling back to Lincoln on a Saturday, then going out to the shop early on the Sunday. Guess what? I was driving on the right!! Oh dear wakey wakey!

Enjoy your trip

Thanks. I hadn`t yet thought about reverting back.

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With so much good advice already posted it very hard to add my 50p's worth but you're going to get it anyway :whistle:

I remember my first trip, (long before satnavs and the internet was in its infancy) i saw a lot but also missed a lot. Planning is the key and the trip you're thinking of doing is very do-able in a day.If it were me, i'd head for the furthest point first and then make my way back.

There are so many places you'll see and you'll think.'what's that over there?' and get diverted. Not a bad thing as such if you've got the time but if you look at a route and then take in as much as you can along that route you'll get more quality time at each place.

For instance if you take the D937 in/out of Arras to or from Vimy ridge You could stop at the german cemetery at Neuville St vaast and the French one at La Targette. It only need be a 10/15 minute pause but both stops are well worth it.

There are many such places to see en-route to another destination and if you miss one or two, you can visit them the next time..............

Because (trust me) there will be a next time.

Have a good trip.

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Just on Osvaldo's point about "next time"; many of us who go back to the Western Front regularly are used to being asked "why do you keep going back?" It's a question I've asked myself, and I found the answer last Armistice Day in Ypres, in the form of a speech by the Chairman of the Last Post Association. It's on the LPA website (under "news") if anyone would like to read it.

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Just read it. It sums up what remembrance is about and why so many go back time and again.

Me, i first went 16 years ago for a long weekend. At the time i only really knew about the battles and memorials such as Theipval and Tyne Cot etc. I can vividly remember my first glimpse of Theipval driving down the road from Bapume (sp) to Albert. It manages to hide itself behind hills and woods and sometimes you don't see it at all for a few minutes. That journey heightened my expectations and didn't disappoint.

Since then i've done lots research and found members of my family who served and died on the western front. I was lucky enough to get tickets for the Somme commemorations in July and will visit those graves which i've probably driven past a dozen times without knowing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

With so much good advice already posted it very hard to add my 50p's worth but you're going to get it anyway :whistle:

I remember my first trip, (long before satnavs and the internet was in its infancy) i saw a lot but also missed a lot. Planning is the key and the trip you're thinking of doing is very do-able in a day.If it were me, i'd head for the furthest point first and then make my way back.

There are so many places you'll see and you'll think.'what's that over there?' and get diverted. Not a bad thing as such if you've got the time but if you look at a route and then take in as much as you can along that route you'll get more quality time at each place.

For instance if you take the D937 in/out of Arras to or from Vimy ridge You could stop at the german cemetery at Neuville St vaast and the French one at La Targette. It only need be a 10/15 minute pause but both stops are well worth it.

There are many such places to see en-route to another destination and if you miss one or two, you can visit them the next time..............

Because (trust me) there will be a next time.

Have a good trip.

Just on Osvaldo's point about "next time"; many of us who go back to the Western Front regularly are used to being asked "why do you keep going back?" It's a question I've asked myself, and I found the answer last Armistice Day in Ypres, in the form of a speech by the Chairman of the Last Post Association. It's on the LPA website (under "news") if anyone would like to read it.

Thank you both for your posts. I`m very grateful for your time taken to post them. I`m sorry I haven`t responded sooner, but I`ve been unwell.

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Given your excellent news in a different topic, now's the time to draw breath and work out what you would like to do on this visit in a finite amount of time - as there will be another time! If you try and do too much it will all be a bit of a blur. For example: I co-authored a book on Serre (admittedly a long time ago). I spent five hours today trying to get a firmer grip on the French attacks there in June 1915. Given that I 'know' the particular area very well, it was fascinating to discover how much I did not know about the lie of the land etc etc etc as pertains to that particular, week long, limited offensive. Now I know a lot more about that one (but I actually only covered about two thirds of the ground involved in June 1915 - weather got in the way) and the issues involved, but it has also added very considerably to my knowledge of the Serre/Gommecourt fighting in 1916.

So my advice is to go and enjoy (in the appropriate sense of the word, of course) your trip. Take your time; I have been making trips over here now for just short of fifty years and am still finding a great deal to see because the knowledge that you gain over time gets you to look at the ground from different perspectives.

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Given your excellent news in a different topic, now's the time to draw breath and work out what you would like to do on this visit in a finite amount of time - as there will be another time! If you try and do too much it will all be a bit of a blur. For example: I co-authored a book on Serre (admittedly a long time ago). I spent five hours today trying to get a firmer grip on the French attacks there in June 1915. Given that I 'know' the particular area very well, it was fascinating to discover how much I did not know about the lie of the land etc etc etc as pertains to that particular, week long, limited offensive. Now I know a lot more about that one (but I actually only covered about two thirds of the ground involved in June 1915 - weather got in the way) and the issues involved, but it has also added very considerably to my knowledge of the Serre/Gommecourt fighting in 1916.

So my advice is to go and enjoy (in the appropriate sense of the word, of course) your trip. Take your time; I have been making trips over here now for just short of fifty years and am still finding a great deal to see because the knowledge that you gain over time gets you to look at the ground from different perspectives.

Thanks, that`s great advice. I have my agenda, and you wouldn`t believe the preparation and planning that is going into it. You`re quite right. I have to stay as focused as I can, and try to get distracted as little as possible. Whilst I`m over there I shall of course be taking notes in preparation for my next visit, which will be a certainty.

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