Another warm day dawns in Amiens. Today, the plan is to travel north-west to Arras. The published ride details are that we are to cover 86 km and climb 530 m. Stops along the way include the Newfoundland Regiment Memorial in Beaumont-Hamel as well as the Ulster Memorial Tower War Monument. But first, we have to say farewell to Amiens, so a few pictures:
Departing Amiens, we rode along the Somme River bike path again. Bike travelling through Europe is so much fun — I think I have already said that a bunch of times!
The Ulster Memorial
The first stop was at the Ulster Memorial in Thiepval. This striking tower was the first official memorial to be erected on the Western Front following WW1. The tower is a replica of Helen’s Tower, a well known Ulster landmark. Specifically, this is a memorial to the Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division who fought at the Battle of the Somme.
Now on to the highlight of the day: Beaumont-Hamel. If you read my post on the role that Newfoundland played in WW1, you will be familiar with the battle and the effect that it had on both the Newfoundland Regiment and the Dominion of Newfoundland. If you haven’t read the post, I suggest you check it out. In short, on 1 July 1916, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and in conjunction with a couple of unfortunate incidents, the Newfoundland Regiment went into battle. At 0915 hrs, the 22 officers and 758 men of the Regiment were directly involved in the advance. Of these, all the officers and 658 other ranks became casualties. Of the 780 men who went forward only about 110 survived unscathed and only 68 were available for roll call the following day.
The Beaumont-Hamel memorial displays a majestic caribou standing tall on a rock looking down the slope towards the German trench lines. The site is one of only two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside Canada; the other is the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. It is also the first of a series of similar caribou statue memorials to the regiment. There are 4 others in Europe and a sixth at Bowring Park in St John’s, NL.
It was then off to our next overnight in Arras, France. In the final total, we covered 82.2 km and climbed 578 m. Now, time for a shower and a trip to the Grande Place for a beer and dinner. Tomorrow’s highlight (and for any Canadian, the highlight of any battlefield tour) is Vimy Ridge – In many respects, the birthplace of our Nation.
Honour the Fallen, Help the Living