Saturday, July 18, 2015

Day One: Stratford to Strasbourg

Well the day had finally arrived - the start of our European Tour!  Amazingly everything packed into the car as planned, no surprise bags appearing at the last minute, so we were ready to go on time.


We hit the road but our delight wasn't to last - motorway warning signs telling us the M20 was closed and Operation Stack was in force, some trouble at the tunnel or channel ports then.  A quick check on the Eurotunnel website confirmed the worst; delays due to a technical issue.

We pressed on regardless, well what else could we do, and thanks to TomTom's guidance and Angela's driving we arrived at our allotted check in time - to find chaos!  The tunnel was running again but with 90 minutes delay to the timetable, and they move a lot of cars in 90 minutes ALL of which were in the car park!  Anyway, a bit later than intended we got onto the train - France here we come!

So finally on French soil our first stop (fuel stops aside) was a small village called Longeauval, or more precisely a small wooded area just outside called High Wood.  This was the site of one of the many 'Battles of the Somme' during the First World War and it was here that my Grandfather, Harold Beach, fought as part of the 15th Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  Although they were a reserve force they saw action during the 1916 offensive to retake ground gained by the Germans during the first years of the war.

High Wood as it looks today

As best as I can ascertain he fought here on 30th July 1916 and was injured taking a bullet to the kneecap.  It meant he could take no further part in hostilities and was repatriated to the UK sometime in August.  He was, for sure, one of the lucky ones.

Adjacent to the wood is a small cemetery, one of many we saw dotted around the French countryside. I scanned the register and found a grave belonging to a soldier in the same regiment as my Grandfather, Private E King who was killed 30th August 1916.  Did he know my Grandfather?  I'll never know, but I paid my respects and signed the visitor book nonetheless.

With that we set course for Strasbourg eventually arriving just before midnight.  Good job we have a day just for sightseeing tomorrow!

Angela's Postscript

Due to the apparent 'bias' in my posts last year (I have no idea what she's talking about!) Angela has decided she'll do a short postscript on each day, so here goes ....

"Eurotunnel Terminal super-stressy ... I drove most of the way ... Andy slept most of the way ... hotel bed comfy ... good shower ... NO WINE!!!"

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