Sunday, April 24
Before leaving, Major McLeod and L. Col. Quarton gave a cheery wave from the balcony of the hotel, which at one point had been the German Headquarters. The tour passed through beautiful country to visit Dieppe and then passed down narrow streets to the beach where the Canadians made their raid. On this misty morning, although the sea was calm, you could almost hear and see in your mind the noise and confusion of the attack on Dieppe.
After lunch in Dieppe the tour passed on into rolling countryside to Amiens and stopped at Beaumont Hamel. The skies were cloudy and misting rain as they visited the museum, and walked among the trenches before climbing a path to pose beneath the large statue of a huge caribou. It seemed somehow appropriate. In 1916, along 580 km of trenches, the British forces and their allies would try to smash through the German lines in the Somme region of France. Over 400,000 attacked. At the end of the day 60,000 were dead. This was a concentrated war happening over a 10 km wide strip. For those 100 km away the only sign of war was the fact that they saw live people going in, and dead people coming back.
Here at Beaumont Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was responsible for taking their section of the line. Faced with withering machine gun fire 800 men raced out of their trenches to make the attack, and a meagre 69 were left at the end of the day. It was truly a terrible day for their first battle in France.
We drove past Canal de Nords but had insufficient time to do it justice on the way to Arras.