We had spent what was left of the morning, after eating our way through Charlottes enourmous baps, visiting the memorials along the Menin Road and ended at the Santuary Wood site.Well to my amazement Annette appeared quite interested although by the time we had started walking through Polygon Wood she had decided she needed a rest so Andrew let her drive to the far side as we did our best to try and follow a possible route his grandfather may have taken.
Polygon Wood is generally attributed to the Australians but the division is grandfather was in was also involved there as indeed was much of the army as it was a bitch of a battle.
So we happy three, me, Andrew and Minime set of to walk the frontline and take the German trenches by storm. m At least that was the intention but to my surprise Mr. Morris kept to the paths for much of the way like he was on a Sunday afternoon stroll but quickly go the hang of things when me and Adam disappeared into the new foliage scraping at the soil with big sticks hoping to find the remains of a dead kraut or two.
Well we all eventually got fed up a stick digging but were happy to find what could only have several large shell holes now filled with smelly decaying leaves and sticks. We even had a prod around their but no cries of "Hilfe!".
Having had a good nose around the right flank I cut back to the far left with Andrew and mini me trailing behind, probably cursing me for being a damn fool and not sticking to the footpath. Anyway, I found alarge square concrete bunker, or perhaps blockhouse is a better word, so I gave them a quiet little "over hear chaps" in my generally very inaudiable voice! Or was it.......
We had a good look around but couldn't get right inside time had blocked the doors in a fashion that I have only just discovered but which irritated me as I was sure there would be an 'ead or two down there with a bit of a tin hat on it. Anyway, Andrew and all....the reason we could not get into it was that the damn thing was originally built on top of the ground because of the high water table and some of them were literal;y pounded into the ground by the British bombardments or to use the technical term "...bigger better barrage.." Therefore this one we found had either sunk over time or had indeed got stiffs in it because they would not have been able to get out with the doorways under the mud.
We came out the other side and climbed up to the Australian memorial cemetery, another huge reminder of death and loss. Most of the poor sods there had died to take the barren waterlogged remains of the wood we had strolled through in about 40 minutes.
Forgot to mention at Sanctuary Wood there are three or four stumps about 2 or 3 feet of the ground that are all that is left of the original woods. The term wood in Haigs dictionary means any mass of mud strewn with dead and dying with more that one upright twig.
Anyhow, we took a few more snapshots and had a look around before finding Annette parked up with some damn awful wierd boy band music on reading her book. It was time for another drink and Andrew's nap.
I interrupt the narrative at this point to record one of my own personal observations of the trip. I know we saw a hell of a lot in a short time but despite being mostly sober my recollection of the holiday especially the chronological order of events for the first few days is rather sketchy. Fatigue or excitement? Were |Charlottes baps just too tempting? Consultation with Andrew may possible fill in any gaps or adjust any time sequencing that is amiss, but I'll leave that up to you dear readers. A discussion group on the Dunkirk diaries - what a splendid idea!
Anyway, we were all pretty knackered after the all night trip over to see the sunrise in Calais and so we returned to Varlet farm happily discussing the days finds and what we could get up to latter. Top of the list the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.
To Annette's disbelief Andrew went for his afternoon kip and we were left to hang around while he recharged his batteries for the evening. I must say I was glad of the chance to crash out too but Annettte found some more pots and pans she had not unpacked yesterday. I did eventually get a snooze of some description as Adam came in saying he was bore so they both went of to have a look around the farm.
Comming next.......The Menin Gate.....