07.09.2012 - 09.06.2016
It was an early start to our day as we crept out of Paris to begin our next leg. The train to Arras was a beauty. It was sleek, comfortable and very, very fast. The trip took about 50 minutes then we met up with Chris from Bartletts Battlefield tours ,who was our travel guide for the next 3 days. What I did not expect was the emotion that this tour was going to unlock. This trip was to take us along the Western Front and follow primarily Hugh but also his cousins Andrew and Charles. We set off on a warm morning and travelled to Newfoundland Park on the Somme Battlefield, Gueudecourt and Villers -Bretonneux. During today we also went and paid our respects to Andrew and Charles at their final resting places at Lesbouefs and Dernancourt Cemetaries. Zig zagging across the Western Front and getting an insight into not only where it was but also the conditions these guys fought in, was both troubling and inspiring. Young men so full of enthusiasm and youth cut down in a conflict that took them across the world away from their families and loved ones. That night in the comfort of our hotel we relaxed and reflected on the sacrifice these guys had made and pondered over what they had made of the situation. The next day we headed for Fromelles and went to Pheasant Wood and the Australian memorial park. We went to Messines Ridge on the Front where Hugh spent his final Christmas Eve, out in "no mans land" stringing barbed wire. This was the Christmas of 1917. We also went to Gable Farm where his Battallion was billeted and the trenches around Messines where the Battallion was over Christmas and New Years Eve. From here we travelled to Neuve Englise where the Battallion was in February 1918 then on to Meteron where Hugh was killed in April 1918. Hugh is buried in Meteron Cemetery which is located metres from where it is calculated he was shot and killed We paid our respects to Hugh and marvelled at his courage to enlist, fight, be shot in Gallipolli and injured then reinlist. Passchendaele was the first trenches that Hugh went into in October 1917 which we visited and also Hill 60. Sunday saw us spending the night at Ypres where we went and visited the Menen Gate. Here we, along with hundreds of others winessed the Last Post being played by 5 buglers as well as a Belgium Choir singing. Very moving and a fitting end to our pilgrimage along the front. This trip took us throughout the Western Front across the Allied Front lines as well as the German Front. We saw bunkers, walked through trenches, walked the Front, paid hommage to the boys both named and unnamed, had a laugh and shed a tear. All in all it was a very moving journey and was worth every second. So many lives lost, so many maimed and injured for freedom. In some instances thousands of soldiers from both sides were killed within hours of an encounter in an area of less than 500 yards. The "Front" could be less than 50 metres from each other and could change direction and distance. The youngest soldier we found in a cemetery was 16 years of age and the oldest was 43 years. We went to Hill 60 and walked the area now a lake that the Allieds blew up under the German position. It took 70,000 pound of explosives and the "Boom" was heard back in England. To Hugh, Andrew, Charles and all who fought and ultimatley lost their lives I say Thank You and " Rest In Peace "