Feet up in a B&B on the Somme

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.

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5 thoughts on “Feet up in a B&B on the Somme”

  1. thanks Andy, I too lost family in the wars but I know not where they are buried. I wish you long happy life travelling, shooting and writing…
    Come on down to downunderland sometime.

  2. Hi Andy
    I am Ceri Brudenell. I met you, with 33 others of my family, at the grave of my great grandfather Prt. Frederick Brudenell. Who also died, from a sniper gun shot to his head, on the same day your great grandfather passed.
    We share your view on how much love and sorrow you can feel for someone, whom we have never met. But who we owe so much.
    We also visited my other great grandfather Prt. Frederick Rooksby at the cemetery in Sangat.
    I am producing a photo album and diary of trip and you and your great grandfather will be remembered.
    Lest we forget.
    Ceri

  3. Hi andy was so lovely to meet you and your lovely wife at the point 110 cemetary in fricourt xxxxx we were the large party visiting my great grandfathers grave. It was lovely to walk back up the hill with you both and ceri and my father too .what a coincidence that both of our granfathers had died 100 years ago to the day. It was such a beautiful day and such a beautiful place xxxxxxx many memories made that day of which you both will always be part of xxxxx regards. Alison xxx

  4. Hi Andy
    I also met you along with my family this week in France. You read a passage from a book ” Nothing of Importance” and it really touched me, and I wanted to say Thank you for stopping and sharing with us.
    I have purchased the book today.
    Kind Regards
    Jackie

  5. It was a pleasure to come across the Brudenell family whilst we were remembering my Great Grandfather last Thursday.

    I went back and took a photograph of their grave on the Friday morning on our way home. I really do feel that our families are connected.

    In that “quiet” period of the war, “only” 202 allied men were killed that day across the whole of the battlefield. To have met so many descendents of one of the other 201, is a real privilege.

    Thank you for sharing the morning with us.

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