Military History Tours Battle of Bullecourt Centenary Tour 2 May 2017
A beautiful day, the sun was shining and at least until later in the day, no wind.After Robert bought stamps and posted his postcards, we headed to Mt St Quentin site of the Second Division Memorial and the story of the feat of courage that saw the mountain taken in 1918 justifying the memorials place. The statue is a new one, the NAZIs destroyed the first one in 1940. It had shown an Australian Soldier bayoneting a German eagle; the NAZIs took offence. The life-like statue of an Australian digger, now in its place could not offend anyone. At the end of August 1918 German troops at the stronghold of Mont St Quentin which overlooked the Somme River approximately 1.5 kilometres north of Peronne. Its location made it an ideal observation point and strategically, the hill's defences guarded the north and western approaches to the town. 2 Div was the first to assault, General Monash said of the Mont St Quentin and Péronne campaign that it furnished the finest example in the war of spirited and successful infantry action conducted by three divisions operating simultaneously side by side in World War 1. Then to Maissemy Soldatenfriedhof where we paid our respects to young Germans who had also sacrificed their lives for their country. At the entrance of the Riqueval tunnel, we discussed the march to the Hindenburg line, Monash’s brilliant tactics and an American tragedy where many inexperienced US soldiers attached to the Australian Corps showed great courage rather than cunning and lost their lives. Those able descended to water level and saw the hidden waterway where two German Divisions were able to be secreted. When we reached water level, we could hear the sound of activity in the tunnel. Then as we ate our lunch, we were treated to the spectacle of a tug pulling a convoy of three boats out of the tunnel. It was then that Robert found a tame bird of great beauty. Bellenglise, site of the 4th Division memorial was our next stop. This memorial stands lonely in the fields visited by few; it is the site of the final action by 4 Div before it was withdrawn from the line never to return. Montbrehain was the last battle we discussed in the Somme region. This town was the last taken by Australians before they were withdrawn from the line for rest before returning in the spring of 1919; a return that was never required. After we discussed the battle, we visited the One Tree Cemetery where the grave of Private Taylor, the most easterly buried Australian Soldier of World War 1 lies. Tomorrow we visit Bullecourt on the 100th anniversary of the second battle.