Firstly I would like publicly to thank Henry and his brother for all the fine work they put in to ensure we all enjoyed our trip. Their prep was first-rate.
Secondly, and not for the first time, I disagree with Daffers. As Henry and bro took us from cemetery to cemetery I could only unconditionally admire the valour of the VCs, men like tunneller Sapper William Hackett who given the choice of freedom after a mine exploded the tunnel or saving his mate, chose the latter and returned to his collapsed tunnel to die a horrible death. Or Noel Chavasse, a surgeon, who received two VCs for his courage in the field in dragging back injured soldiers to their field hospitals. Or Captain Thomas Pryce who held back with 40 men a battalion of German soldiers for 10 hours and went down fighting. I’m no military historian but I understand by 1917 the Brits top brass had mastered the strategy and materiel to win. However this is not the point which is the incredible valour of hitherto unknown unimportant men in the service of their country.
The day was hampered by filthy weather. On leaving the cemetery at Dub Corner the heavens opened to produce stair-rods of rain the like of which I have never seen. Fortunately Henry stayed calm at the wheel though Daffers was complaining of what the rain might do to her £180 Jon Frieda hair-do. We had our second memorable meal when we finally arrived at La Matelote. The lobster salad and turbot was too delicious. I last tasted Turbot recently at the price of £43 at the Ritz with a school friend whose wealth is measured in the billion bracket but the turbot here with a rich sauce was better. Washed down by a fine Sancerre, we could all look back on two memorable days. Our journey had not only been productive in terms of knowledge gleaned, but experienced that warm sense of bonding and companionship such as these brave tommies might have experienced too.