Up at stupid o clock and couldn\’t really stomach brekkie so had a gel and an oat bar.
So we were off into a chilly Amiens morning. Trundling past the waterside was a pleasant opener, but soon we were climbing the chalk downs to get to Thiepval for one of the key ceremonies of the week.
As we rose the air got colder and damper until we were enveloped in fog. At one cemetery we had the option to admire the views from the tower, but…
On and through more mist making an odd visual effect on my glasses. The water stop! Refuelling on bits and pieces and really my breakfast.
I was staggered to be asked to lay a wreath at Thiepval. Because of the family connections (more next week) I accepted as it briskly.
Now I had to get to Thiepval on time. The next few miles were a mixed bag of emotions and hills. Sweeping past Albert we curved just past Fricourt, and then turned northish when suddenly I noticed a Bernafay Wood cemetery. Having no time to spare I had to miss out on paying my respects to Great Great Uncle Arthur George Bryant.
Losing time to trickier hills Thiepval finally hove into view in the now strong sun. But my legs were fading fast. Eventually, after a couple of tired pauses I arrived with time to spare.
Lunch first and then a conversation with Sean on the process.
A colour party of us carrying 3 flags (I was proud to be on the Union Flag) led the BBBR12 to the monument. We were sharing wreaths between 3, but I\’d written my GG Uncles\’ names on. With me was a man whose brother had died (of natural causes) whilst serving. Embarassed to have the focus. I handed him the wreath to lay, he was military and it seemed more appropriate.
First the local Mairie\’s mother welcomed us with the padre translating. Her mother lost an arm, leg and eye to British bombing in Amiens, but she bore no grudges. Then the pedalling General spoke movingly. Then we laid the wreaths. This civilian bogged up by turning back…. Instead if walking backwards.
The bagpipes and last post inside Thiepval are stunning.
An emotional break.
Late away after mass in the memorial the afternoon was hard and very warm. It was tough, but after a great guided tour of the Arras tunnels it was hotel (cobble cycling is fun), dinner, phone calls, bed.