On Friday 13 June 2014, 34 people assembled opposite the Consti Club at 6.15am to board the Bakers Dolphin coach to take us down to Folkestone to connect with the Channel Shuttle to quickly get us over to Calais and then on to Ypres for the first part of our tour.
It had been arranged with the Menin Gate Association that we would lay a wreath in memory of all those from Clevedon who gave their lives during the First World War, so at 7.20pm we walked the few hundred yards from our hotel down to the Menin Gate where at least 100 people had already assembled, by 8pm when the ceremony took place that number had multiplied 5 fold. It was a very moving experience for Wendy Moore, Julia Elton and I as we marched across the road which passes through the gate, up the steps to the position where the wreath was laid. Bryan Irwin and Ron Collins also laid a wreath during the ceremony to remember those from Nailsea.
We spent two days in Ypres and then two days in Albert on the Somme. Jon Haslock who runs the ‘Old Blighty Tearooms‘ just outside Albert was our guide for two days, one day around the Ypres area and one day on the Somme. Jon is extremely knowledgeable about the First World War and we all learned much from him.
Hugh Stebbing, Civic Society Chairman, located a private collection of aircraft and other items only 200 yards from our hotel in Albert and with the help of the hotel manager managed to arrange a private visit for us on our final morning. The collection was truly amazing, filling three large hangers and was a very nice surprise to finish off our memorable trip.
Report by Rob Campbell
Photographs from Bryan Osborne, Malcolm Case and Rob Campbell