The Diary of our Visit to see
Great Uncle Mickie's resting place
11th Feb '08
Left home (Ivybridge) at 7am and arrived at My sister, Hattie's, at 10.30. Sorted Geoff's watches out and left for cousin Nick's at 1.30.
Bought Valentine card for Brenda in Waddesdon and posted it near Nick's.
Left Nick's to pick hs brother, Robin, up and filled up with fuel at the Esso station opposite Tesco's. Picked Julian up at 3.30 and made a bee-line for the clockwise route round the M25 to miss out Heathrow. A big hold up at junction 30 but finally arrived at the Chunnel at 6pm and managed to get on the 6.50 departure arriving at Coquelles at 8.30 French time.
Straight to the Buffalo Grill for "fixed menu's" all round but better puds! Got to the hotel and had to use the Post Office Credit Card as the automat machine wouldn't accept my Nationwide one! Went to bed about 11am and the only one that slept was Robin as he SNORES!

12th Feb
Slightly touchy about no sleep, we all showered and got to breakfast at 8am. Got hooked up to the Wi-Fi and managed to sort the e-mails out and send Brenda (my wife) a quick e-mail. Left the hotel at 9am and went to Adinkerke to get Brenda's cigarettes and then on to Poperinge to see the Toc-H Club but it was not open so on to Ypres where we hit the Flander's Fields Museum and then walked to see the Menin Gate. 53,000 names of missing soldiers.

The amazingly beautiful Cloth Hall in Ypres. Totally destroyed in WW1 and rebuilt exactly. The home of the excellent Flanders Fields Museum.

The Menin Gate as seen from the ramparts. The bronze model to enable blind people to visualise the grandeur of the building lies in front of the gate.

The bronze depiction with braille plates
Then a walk through town to get a sandwich at Peros and leave to see...
the Yorkshire Trench,

The attacked side of the Yorkshire Trench in Ypres
Passendale where we looked at the New British Cemetery - lots of unnamed graves,
Tyne Cot Cemetery - the largest cemetery in Europe and on to

The outside of the Tyne Cott Cemetery

The graves surrounding one of the two German bunkers

The view of the Cross of Sacrifice

Julian and Nick reading the wreathes etc.
 Dijksmuid where not only was the Dodengang shut but so was the Ijzertower!!!!

The Ijzer Tower which is a museum to WW1
We left Dijksmuid and drove down the autoroute to Amiens Sud - 11.20 euros - and arrived at the hotel at 7.05pm. Managed to book in at the reception so it went on to the Nationwide card.
Had a Buffalo Grill just ¼ mile down the road. We all had Steak Hache de Bison and profiteroles for pud with Julian splitting a banana.

13th Feb
Got up at 06.30 for a shower, brekkie and out by 8.15am to go to a cold and crisp Villers-Bretonneaux to see the Australian Memorial but the tower was locked.
Then on to the Lochnagar Crater where we met the Parklands High School returning from a trip to the Normandy beaches and doing WW1 on the bounce. They were a very well behaved group and Nick got chatting to several of the teachers.

The lone cross on the South side of the Lochnagar crater

On one of the wreathes was this card showing that Great Uncle Mickie may have served at the Lochnagar Mine as he was also a "Queens" man.
On to film the Louverval Cemetery where Brenda's Great Uncle John is remembered on panel 1. A really well kept small cemetery which it is a privilege to visit.

Panel 1 in Louverval Cemetery showing Corporal Wyatt J. My wife's Great Uncle.

Louverval Cenmetery's Stone of Remembrance
Cutting back to see the tank memorial at Poziers and the memorial to the Aussies who died taking the Poziers Windmill opposite.

The Tank Regiment Memorial outside Poziers

Julian and Nick reading the plaque at the site of the Pozier's Windmill

The aforesaid plaque
On to Thiepval where we met the school again and we watched the Thiepval video and went to see the Memorial to 72,000 dead.
Then to Auchonvillers to have a Croque Monsieur for lunch and back to the Newfoundland Regiment where we had a very interesting chat with a chap who hails from Newfoundland and had a dead "Pike" (I presume his family name is Pike) in the cemetery.

The plaque at the entrance to the park

The second plaque at the entrance

The caribou defiantly facing the direction the enemy was coming from and surrounded by Newfoundland rocks and vegetation especially imported from Newfoundland.

The very well behaved pupils of Parklands High School examining the Danger Tree.

The pigtail barbed wire holders still in place

The Danger Tree

The grave stone of Private Frank "Mayo" Lind. The Newfoundlands unofficial war correspondent

"Y" Ravine

The 51st Highland Division Memorial overlooking Y Ravine
The school turned up again and Nick had bought for them the "Chorley Pals" book from the lunch stop. They were impressed as I believe they hadn't seen the book before. Moving on to Albert we paid the 5 euros to see the museum and then went and had some drinks in a bar in the square.  

It was believed that if the statue atop the Albert Basilica fell in the War then the war would end with the Allies losing. It was shored up by the sappers!

As you exit the museum you are greeted by this trompe l'oeil showing the falling statue
Back into Amiens we looked in vain for a Decathlon and ended up at the Bufallo Grill for a 7.45pm meal of burgers and Coupe America for pud. Julian once again split with an apple tart and extra cream stolen from Nick and Robin. Mine had been eaten by then!
Back at the hotel and bed.  
14th Thursday - Great Uncle Mickie's birthday, he would have been 116 today!
We had a bad nights sleep with Robin going for it and Nick filling in the missing words. I couldn't sleep for the plaintiff cries of "Rob!" coming from Julian's bunk and further exortations of "turn over" to which the reply was "I have"! The amusing part is that Robin is now adamant that Nick's snoring is far worse than his because his doesn't wake him up. I think the score was…. Robin - Champion Snorer of Europe Nick - Apprentice snorer of Bicester, Julian - Snorer's Squire and Andy (Me) - "I'll just buy more earplugs"!
The weather was very cold, foggy and damp when we left the Hotel at 08.48hrs. We stopped off at the extremely tacky Welsh Dragon at Mametz which could have been so nice if it hadn't been designed by somebody taking their cues from the Beatles Yellow Submarine cartoon or possibly Terry Gilliam's "Monty Python" cartoons!  

L-R, Nick Carter, Robin Carter and Julian Stow at the Mametz Dragon

A plea to any Welsh person reading this...Find the designer and keep hitting him until he comes up with a tasteful design instead of this parody. It should be made of stone and heraldic in design!
On to drive through Fricourt where Great Uncle Mickie died, arriving at The Quarry Cemetary at 09.40hrs. We believe that Mickie was wounded in hand to hand combat and died a couple of days later at the field hospital in Fricourt on the day his comrades were moving from Maricourt to Bois Favieres and Hardecourt-aux-Bois, which is 5 miles away from Fricourt.

Robin, Andy (the handsome one), Julian and Nick behind their Great Uncle Mickie's grave
The only cemetery we've seen without a Stone of Remembrance (?) but a very well kept cemetery which is what we had become used to seeing after all the sites we had seen on this trip in France and Belgium. I think a rousing cheer for the work carried out by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is called for here and I will be dropping them a line to thank them for all their hard work on behalf of the 4 cousins. By the by it was decided that as the world had had "The 4 Tenors" so we could be the "4 pennies" as we didn't have any voice coaching but some of us could snore in sync!
A quiet moment was had by all of us as we planted the stainless steel plaque and the wooden poppy cross (I say wooden but they are now the dreaded plastic versions) and set up the camera to take a shot or two of us all standing next to Mickie's grave. A tour of the cemetery revealed he wasn't the only one from "The Queen's" - Royal West Surrey Regiment interred there and one other poor chap had died on the same day but not from Mickie's regiment.

The plaque made for us by Welbro Engineering of Ivybridge

Nick, Rob and Julian standing at the entrance of Quarry Cemetery holding the visitor's books
We duly signed the visitor's book and made our way back towards Arras and home. A short detour in Longueval saw us visit the South African Memorial in Delville Wood (Bois d'Elville) which became known as "Devil's Wood" and that was probably an apt name as so many South Africans were killed there. On to Arras where we filled with fuel and food and to the Chunnel managing to get home on an earlier train which allowed us to get stuck in the M25 traffic for an hour. I dropped Julian off in Haddenham and drove to Bicester where we filled with fuel and after dropping Robin and Nick off I drove home to Ivybridge, in Devon, finally arriving at 22.06hrs.  
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