Beginning Vimy

Vimy, the monument.

So I’m not going to spew out everything I’ve learned in the past week of training here, because that would be a fool’s errand, but I thought I’d leave you with some pictures of our first few days of training. Monday and Tuesday were spent in the classroom, getting to the brass tacks about what really went down in World War I, specifically the Battle of the Somme (which relates to the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel) and the Battle of Arras (the fight for Vimy Ridge was part of this one). Our two trainers were unbelievable. So knowledgeable, approachable and funny. And they’re even funnier with a few beers in em! Just scroll to the bottom to see them in action. Love you Jim and Steve!!

Canada mourning the loss of her young sons.

Wednesday and Thursday were our battlefield training days. These days were by far the most overwhelming. Actually being on the frontlines and seeing how enormous they were, and how far these battles actually encompassed still and I think always will baffle me. I swear about 3/4s of my pictures if not all have been taken standing near or on a cemetery. We were able to visit some really small, really remote cemeteries that more-or-less demarcate the frontlines. The next few pictures are from Tuesday and Wednesday. It was Wednesday that we really dove into the Battle of the Somme, and I was finally able to see how expansive it really was. Watching movies about WWI simply does not cut it for understanding the scope of everything. I still can’t. Unfortunately I left my camera in my hotelroom by accident for Thursday so that will be the next post!

View from the Lorette Spur. It's this valley where part of the Vimy lines were. A bit more to the left, but you get the idea.

Beaumont-Hamel trenches, from the Battle of the Somme

Yes they have sheep to cut the grass.

This is the cemetery for the German soldiers. There are roughly 60,000 buried here, 4 to a cross.

We drive by this cemetery I believe everyday to get to work. It is overwhelming. The German cemetery’s have a very different feel to them then the Commonwealth/Canadian ones do (that’s a story for another day), and it is rather unsettling. Every cross represents four men. It’s really hard to describe the scope until you’ve been there, but very sad nonetheless.

From the German cemetery. This really hit me when I realized there is no way you'd ever see this during World War II

After the German cemetery and some Beaumont-Hamel frontlines we went over to the Theipval Memorial. It also marks those lost during the Battle of the Somme, so you can imagine how big it is. In comparison it’s like the British version of Vimy. Pictures also don’t really do justice to how huge the monument is. Picked up some sweet postcards at the giftshop. Friends who want gifts send me your addresses!!

Theipval Monument - more or less the British version of Vimy, except for the Battle of the Somme

In almost every farmer’s field or cemetery we went to Jim would manage to finds some sort of shrapnel or artifact from the War, without even digging anything. I was lucky enough to find something really amazing, some barbed wire!! The lovely Allison also found its matching peg that would have held it in the ground! She let me took a picture of it, so there it is. Also, roughly 15-20 people in Northern France get injured or died from uncovering unexploded devices (like mines or shells) from the First World War alone. Mostly farmers who are using their machinery over where the battles took place. It would apparently take hundreds of years (I think roughly 800) to de-mine all of Northern France. And that’s just the First World War.

A peg that held up the barbed wire. 95 years old.

This is barbed wire from the Somme front lines. Found it in a field. Didn't even have to dig.

The most amazing instructor/tour guides ever. Would gladly grab beers with these guys anytime, anyday.

With all this powerful stuff we study and are learning we had to unwind somehow, and decided to walk into the town where we’ll be living, Arras. Expect many more pictures to come once we’re officially moved into the town!

First picture at the town square! Before the beer. Trust me on this.

Next up, it’ll be the front lines of Vimy, and a very foggy day!

À bientôt
-N

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This entry was posted in Livin' Vimy, Nat. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Beginning Vimy

  1. lux says:

    AHH nat this is so awesome!! it looks like you are having so much fun! im glad to see you are learning lots too, if anyone would appreciate Vimy Ridge it would be you! keep on bloggin

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