Page 283 - The Rifles Bugle Autumn 2019
P. 283

      The Shrine in Mametz where German MG’s had
a commanding position covering the Devon’s line of attack
The sunken lane at Beaumont-Hamel
  The DLI party at the viewing tower overlooking the site of the Battle of Cre’cy 1346
 detailed model of their area of attack and concluded that if the shrine and its MG position was not destroyed, his attack would fail: it wasn’t and their attack led to his Company being decimated, and their bodies, including Lt. William Noel Hodgson, who wrote the poem “Before Action” lies buried, along with Capt. Martin, and 159 men of ‘A’ Coy.
It was then time to return to Ocean Villas for a very late lunch/early dinner of ‘Stew all in’ and liquid refreshment, before sprucing ourselves up for the ceremony at Bus-les-Artois.
When we arrived there were few people about, but gradually people began to arrive, including a family of three, all dressed as the ‘Black Watch’. Father was the base drummer, his wife played the cymbals and their son played the bagpipes. We moved down to the Village War Memorial and the commemorative stones to 18 DLI (Durham Pals), 14 W Yorks (Leeds Pals) and 16 W. Yorks (Bradford Pals) and awaited the commencement of the Memorial Ceremony. Luckily it was not as hot as last year, and our Standard Bearer, Dennis Grubb was impressive in his role, lowering his Standard, etc., at the appropriate times: well done, Dennis.
Not such a high-powered group as last year with the dedication of the Durham Pals Memorial Stone, but the area’s Consul General was there as was the lady Mayoress, Madame Pombourg.
Following the ceremony we retired to the Marie for ‘bubbles and cake’, with the community band and the ‘Black Watch’ providing musical entertainment. It was a very jolly occasion enjoyed by all, with a lot
of intermingling, more than last year: they obviously found that we weren’t such a bad lot! We then returned to Ocean Villas for a few ‘sherberts’ before retiring to bed for an early start the next morning.
As we needed to catch the early ferry we used the toll road and arrived in Calais in plenty of time. On arrival we observed a Frenchman on a bicycle, and wondered if he would have to stop and have his knapsack searched. As it turned out he was a Music Professor from Boulogne who was quite a character as he took the train from Boulogne to Calais as Calais was flatter to catch the ferry to Dover to buy fish and chips! He did this a few times a year, and I thought us Brits were the eccentric ones!
It was a beautiful morning and one could see Dover as clear as anything, seeming to be only a few miles away. On disembarking we had a slight detour, one of many before we got onto the A20 and on our way, dropping off Major Wharton, and after a ‘comfort break’ at Peterborough services arrived back in Durham at 1710 hrs. Captain Tough and me, Major van der Gucht then returned the vehicle back to Sunderland. A very special ‘Thank you’ is owed to Richard, as he had to do all the driving as the hire firm had failed to mention to me that they had an upper age limit of seventy imposed by their insurance company.
We feel that the DLI Association ought to make attending the Bus-les-Artois ceremony an annual event, to honour “The Fallen” of our two nations and do our bit for Anglo-French relations post Brexit. Major (Retd) Mike Van der Gucht TD
Devonshire Trench
        THE RIFLES

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