Our November Tracking the tank tour coincided with the 87th anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai on Saturday November 20th 2004 and this event was to form a large part of the weekend.
We all met at the Hotel Beatus on the Thursday evening. After watching a DVD which told the overall story of the Battle of Cambrai, Jerry gave a small talk, and then Jack Holt the historian who has written many books about the battles on the Western Front, and who was staying in the Hotel, gave a very entertaining short talk. Then, after a glass of champagne, we went into Dinner.
On Friday morning we set off for the tank unloading point at New Heudicourt, via Meath Cemetary from which one has an extremely good view of the South Western area of the Battlefields.
From the unloading area, we then followed the tracks across Chapel Ridge, and Chapel Crossing to the edge of the Bois Gauche where the tanks were hidden prior to the start of the battle. Here in the edge of the wood, there are also the remains of an original trench from WW1.
After coffee in the bar in Villers Guislain we continued to Villers Plouich and the Fifteen Ravine cemetary.
After lunch we continued to La Vaquerie where there had heavy fighting on the first day of the Battle. We continued by Pam Pam farm and then by the valley where the communication cables were laid to Marcoing. Finally we went via Masnieres to the Military Cemetary in Cambrai, where the dead of both sides are buried.
On Saturday morning we went via the Chateau at Havrincourt, which the Germans had used as their field headquarters until mid 1917, to the site of the memorial for the Battle of Flesquieres.
We then visited "Deborah" the tank which was hit by shell fire in the village street in Flesquieres during the battle in 1917, and which had remained buried until 1999.
On the Saturday afternoon we attended an act of Remembrance at the Louverval Memorial near to the village of Doignes. We were joined by the Mayor and deputy Mayor of the village of Doignes, 3 standard bearers from the "Anciennes Combatants" of the French Parachute regiment, serving members of the British Armed Forces; the Royal Tank Regiment, the Royal Air Force Regiment, and the Infantry and Lieutenant Eric Smallwood, who was a tank commander during WW2, who arrived in his Defender 110 which he bought new in 1989.
Monsieur le Maire and Lieutenant Smallwood sharing a light hearted moment.
Below, the representatives of the British Armed forces, and "Adventure 1", Eric Smallwood's Land Rover with the Royal Tank Regiment's flag. This Land Rover has travelled extensively in Africa, the Middle East, and North America.
After the ceremony, we drove by Havrincourt Woods to Ytres, another tank unloading place, and then by Trescault to the Trench.
After Dinner at the Hotel on Saturday night, Phillipe, the owner of the Hotel was presented with a plaque by the Royal Tank Regiment for his work in finding and rcovering "Deborah" the tank.
Site Last Updated jeudi, décembre 09, 2004. 18:19:07