Saturday, 11 October 2014

Day 159: Paris to Villers-Bretonneux, and Corbie - Sat 11 Oct, 2014

Day 159: Paris to Villers-Bretonneux, and Corbie - Sat 11 Oct, 2014
Cool, rainy, overcast morning. Washed hair and other chores before getting on road again. Set off north east to tour the French battlefields. BoyRob has broken the wing of his good sunglasses, so helped himself to his partner’s (“drivers’ privilege!”). Mounds of harvested sugar beets ready for transport. 


Arrived Compiegne Forest, evidence of wild pigs. Keen to inspect railway carriage, site of signing WWI and WWII armistice between France and Germany and vice versa. At the conclusion of WWI, Marshall Ferdinand Foch was Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies. He accepted the German request for an armistice on 11 November 1918, advocating peace terms that would make Germany unable to ever again pose a threat to France. His announcement “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years" proved prophetic: WWII started 20 years and 64 days later.

Marshall Ferdinand Foch

Impressionist gardens, poppies in fields, Remembrance Day flower. Women on horses, stately in hunt dress and helmets with bugles and horns. Moved on following our VIP wifi stop McDonalds. Pretty country, charming rustic houses, well looked after, creepers up walls - yellows, reds, oranges, browns. Noted cropping rather than livestock, rare to see fencing. Pont l'Eveque - canals, lochs and barges. Small fast azure-coloured bird flew low across front of vehicle. 

Walked through War Cemetery near Roye, mostly WWII/ British, then briefly through Crucifix Corner Cemetery 1917-18, where there was a dead, bloody hare lying on the emerald green grass between the white crosses. Felt as if we were in a surreal painting.

On to Villers-Bretonneux and Franco-Australian Museum above the school, a gift from children in Victoria. Twinned with town in Victoria named Robinvale, after Robin Cuttle of Royal Flying Corps. Memorabilia, uniforms, documents, photos, badges, emblems, banners, posters, medals, letters, poems – all too moving.

Dummy tank to mislead the enemy

On to Australian War Memorial and cemetery on a rise just outside town. Read inscriptions and names on walls, and gravesites. Surprised with how many were not young men. Climbed 134 steps to top with views over now benign countryside. We were stopped by an effusive group of French people glad to see the kangaroos on our trucks who told us Aussies were always welcome in France. 


Too too poignant...

On to Corbie village to municipal campgrounds with many permanent sites - half price because we said we'd share a site! Sat outside with John and Ann for sundowners and dinner of duck with tomato and mushroom pasta - a tasty BoyRob invention. Ground was boggy but night not cold - first time we've seen stars for ages. Reflected on the men in the same place 100 years ago looking up at the night sky and wishing they were safely home. 

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