Day 9 – Arras to Bapaume

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In Arras (and many French towns) Joan of Arc is immortalized with this plaque. We’re not sure if this celebration of her life is an anti-British sentiment or a a pro-French one. But we know who burnt her at the stake!!!

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Through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records in Arras we found the record of Arthur Blackmore, of the Wellington NZ regiment who was killed at Gallipoli, Turkey He was the great, great uncle of Sandy’s children on their father’s side of the family tree. He was a very young man who died very early in the war.

We arrived in Bapaume, a large village in the centre of the Somme, where many Australians lost their lives in WW1.

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A large number of Australian solders were killed here in Bapaume in an explosion in the middle of the night in a house they were occupying. Seems the Germans had retreated from the area but left a booby trap bomb inside which killed many of the Australian AIF troops asleep in the house.

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These were the men killed either on or after that fateful night.

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The Commonwealth War Graves commission maintains all the cemetries where Commonwealth soldiers are buried.

This Australian cemetery is near to where we’ll stay tonight at our chamber d’hote in Bapaume. Not only does it have predominantly Australians buried there but also British and even about 20 Germans. This was a surprise to us. We understand many of these smaller cemeteries are located nearby the spot where field hospitals previously stood. Those who lost their lives didn’t move far from their death beds.

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We toured the graveyard and found that the Captain of the medical Corp died here too – perhaps a doctor?

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This grave shows that the Commonwealth recruited far and wide to fill it’s quota of cannon fodder for ‘The Empire’s’ cause. Perhaps this Muslim soldier was from India prior to partition into West and East
Pakistan.

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The inscriptions on some gravestones are becoming difficult to read after nearly 100 years. Some are in the process of being renovated but we were not sure if this was being done by the soldiers families or by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The gardens within the graveyard are maintained beautifully – but for how many generations will this continue?

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