100 years ago tomorrow my Great-Grandfather was killed on the Somme. There were no big battles going on. No big offensives, apart from the fact that the whole war was pretty offensive. Just the day to day killing that went on regardless.
We are staying in a tiny B&B run by an English couple. The husband does battlefield tours and is taking us on a personal tour tomorrow to show us what happened on that day, as best we can find out. Previously, I had thought that he was a stretcher bearer, but it seems that he was most probably driving an ambulance which was hit by fire from a German aircraft. He was with two others who died that day. They were killed instantly, but he was mortally wounded and died later that day in a field hospital.
He had volunteered at the age of 37/38 and left a wife and three children at home in Norfolk. Why he volunteered at such a late age we have no idea but it will be worth finding out more when we get home.
It’s quite a strange feeling. Having been in this very B&B exactly 10 years ago, I have been looking forward to this personal tour since. But it’s a bit like going to the funeral of someone you could never have known but who was fundamental to who you are. Someone who gave his life so that I can enjoy the life that I do. I will share my feelings on the day when we get back.
Here is a quick iPhone shot of Mill Road cemetery, near the Thiepval memorial to the men who have no known grave and the Ulster Tower. There are 1304 men in this place.
They leave long shadows.