Crunch, crunch, crunch. The sound of German boots in the German cemetery at Villers-au-Flos. But these are my Meindl boots marching up and down the rows of graves, inspecting the names of the fallen. There was a desperate battle in early September 1918. Hundreds of young Germans were laid to rest on 2 September 1918. What had they been thinking the night before? The war was nearly lost. Hopefully someone would call time and they could return to Germany. Then some Allied general decided to attack their ridge and today we can see the result: this forlorn German cemetery and, nearby, a Manchester cemetery with so many graves sharing that fateful date. One poor soul survived until the 5th September.
Today we reached the Somme. Is there no end to these battlefields and cemeteries? We’ve been affected more than I would have thought and when I get home I will have to read some more about WW1.
For the benefit of interested pilgrims, in Arras we stayed in an apartment on Thursday from Booking.com. Paul booked it and it was very comfortable. Chocolates were provided. On Friday we transferred to the fabulous 4 star Mercure hotel. Fortunately our stay coincided with the reconstruction of the lobby and we had to pick our way over debris to get in. But the hotel slashed their rates to levels which impoverished pilgrims could afford so we settled in as if we were used to this sort of luxury. Last night we stayed in Bapaume at Le Gourmet hotel. It was small and nice for filthy pilgrims. We had a room each as they only had double beds and we dined in the hotel. The meal was good.
We chose tonight’s accommodation in Peronne, again using Booking.com. This website is a blessing for anyone with dire accommodation because they show a few nice photos together with glowing reviews from friends, relatives and sponsored reviewers and you pay in advance. It looked like a charming chalet close to a river on a camp site. So cheap as well. It’s called Camping du port de Plaisance. It would be fine if you had your own tent or motor home. But the cabins are so dreadful even the mosquitoes don’t bother to come in. However we pilgrims are resolute. We showered and washed our clothes then dined at the tasty burger kiosk with a bottle of red wine from Bordeaux. Paul wondered what Reva would make of it. Not a lot by all accounts.
Approaching the German cemetery in Villers-au-Flos
We arrived at the Somme
We arrive at our cabin on the camping ground.
Dinner from the burger kiosk.