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Ranville Cemetery

Anzac Day

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Anzac Day

Held every 25th of April, Anzac Day marks the first campaign in which major casualties were suffered by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Celebrated now as a day that remembers and honours all Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died for their country, it should not be forgotten that Anzac Days foundations was to honour and remember the members of this corps who fought during the Great War at...

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Arras Anniversary Tour

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Arras Anniversary Tour

This past weekend we had the pleasure of taking two families to the battlefield of Arras to see where their relatives had fought and died during the battle of 1917. Our first family was following their uncle Captain Geoffrey Laird Jackson of the 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade (pictured left). Jackson was the eldest son of Brigadier General Geoffrey M. Jackson who had commanded the Sherwood Foresters and was the managing director of the Clay Cross Colliery Company. He was educated at Harrow and was in the cricket XI in 1911, 1912 and 1913...

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The Battle of Neuve Chapelle 102nd Anniversary

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The Battle of Neuve Chapelle 102nd Anniversary

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10–13 March 1915) marks its 102nd anniversary this year. It took place in the Artois region of France (French Flanders). The battle followed the operations that had taken place over the winter months of 1914-15 and was to be the first large scale offensive launched by the British. With more Divisions arriving in France, the British Expeditionary Force was now divided into two armies with Sir Douglas Haig commanding the First Army and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien the Second Army. The arrival of these extra troops...

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The Bruneval Raid 75th Anniversary

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The Bruneval Raid 75th Anniversary

The Bruneval Raid, code name Operation Biting, was a British Combined Operations raid that took place on the night of 27-28 February 1942 during World War Two and this year marks its 75th anniversary. The purpose of the raid was to capture German radar technology located near the French coastal town of Bruneval in Northern France. The Germans were improving their radar technology in 1941 and their network was expanding along the northern coastline of France. They had also increased their ability to jam our radar signals, which was hardly...

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SS Mendi – ‘Let Us Die Like Brothers’

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SS Mendi – ‘Let Us Die Like Brothers’

Not all who died in the Great War died in battle. Some died without the shot from a gun being fired or the thrust of a bayonet. Civilians were killed by bombs dropped from Zeppelins, some prisoners of war died in camps through poor treatment and illness and then there are those who met tragic ends. The sinking of the SS Mendi is one such story and considered to be one of the worst maritime disasters in British waters. The SS Mendi (pictured right) was transporting 823 men from the 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps. The men were...

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Mexico and World War One

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Mexico and World War One

January saw the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. One of his election pledges was to build a wall between Mexico and the United States which has taken an awful lot of criticism. But perhaps had he been nominated in 1917 with the pledge, he would have been fully supported. Let me explain why. In January 1917, Germany had declared unrestricted submarine warfare, in effect sinking any vessel they suspected of carrying arms and goods to the allies no matter what nationality it was. In 1915 they had sunk the...

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The Lions of the Menin Gate

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The Lions of the Menin Gate

Everyone who visits Ypres on a battlefield tour, or for any other reason for that matter, has to pay a visit to the world’s best known war memorial; the Menin Gate. There has always been a gate on this site and it has been called many things. Firstly, in the middle ages it was known as the Hangwaert Gate meaning the gate leading to the gallows field. When this was rebuilt for defence purposes it was renamed the Antwerp Gate and became more of a sally port into the city. When Vauban modernised the defences of Ypres and the ramparts, the...

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The Last Post Ceremony and remembering former bugler Antoon Verschoot

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The Last Post Ceremony and remembering former bugler Antoon Verschoot

On Wednesday, 1 February 2017 we received the sad news that Antoon Verschoot had passed away in Ieper at the grand old age of 91 years. Antoon was a bugler of the Last Post Association from 1954 until December 2015 and, together with his fellow buglers, he had played the Last Post some 15,000 times under the Menin Gate to honour the memory of the soldiers who died in Flanders during the First World War. Always faithfully at his post at 8 o’clock each evening, from Monday to Sunday, he would even come to support his fellow buglers when he...

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Our very own Discovery Tour

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Our very own Discovery Tour

On the weekend of 20th January we were kindly invited to attend the Discovery Tour 2017. Tour operators from all over the country were met by coaches in the UK and transported to the town of Ypres where we would be able to meet a number of hoteliers and companies who cater for the tourism market. It felt most odd but a welcome change for us to be the guests on a tour and not the organisers! We stayed at our usual hotel in Ypres, the family run Albion, which over the years has become our home away from home and, as always, the group received a...

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Animals in World War One

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Animals in World War One

Recently on one of our battlefield tours, the group visited the In Flanders Fields Museum’. In the museum was a stuffed Jack Russell called Torpille who belonged to a Jules Van Neste, a Belgian Chaplain in World War One, and used as a rat catcher. Our photo shows Torpille in the museum not looking his best thanks to the taxidermist of the time! Many of the battlefield tour party then began to ask questions regarding the animals that served in the Great War, and there were many, of all types. During the Great War, 16 million animals served and...

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