Monday, April 26, 2010

The Somme to Paris

This is our last day of the tour. We follow in the footsteps of the Anzacs and see us return to the 1916 Somme battlefields, where we visited the maze of trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The Newfoundland Regiment was almost wiped out here on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

We will then drove past the Ulster Tower, modelled on Helen's Tower in Northern Ireland, before visiting the spectacular Thiepval Memorial, where the names of more than 72,000 British men missing from the Somme fighting are recorded. This was very humbling.

We also saw Mouquet Farm, scene of a costly advance by Australian troops in August 1916. We then returned to Villers-Bretonneux, where we visited the Adelaide Cemetery, the place where Australia's Unknown Soldier lay for 75 years before being returned to Australia in 1993.

We then went to the remarkable Victoria School, home to a wonderful small Australian museum, and where a sign in the playground entreats that the students 'Do Not Forget Australia'.

We will then returned to the Australian National Memorial where we commemorated Anzac Day, to spend some peaceful time exploring the memorial, reading the names of the missing Australian soldiers and taking a last opportunity to pay our respects to the original Anzacs. Paul and I found a distant relative that Aunty Rosemary asked us to track down. We took photos for her.

We then farewelled the battlefields and boarded our coach for the return trip to Paris.

We had a farewell dinner in a restaurant in Montmatre, before being escorted on an Illuminations tour of Paris - a chance to see the city's famous landmarks bathed in glorious light. Plus, we got to find out a bit of background from our tour guide - David - he used to be a driver for Princess Diana....the stories he told us.....

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