3. The Little Tank Adventure, Cambrai.

After Kate left we chilled at Dinant for a couple of days before craning the motorcycle off the barge and heading back upstream to Waulsort where we booked in for the week, mooring initially on the pontoon near ‘Matariki’ who were continuing their paint job.

Lynn and Stewart were surprised to see us and we had a ‘quick’ beer aboard ‘Matariki’, Carol and Jeremy joining us at about 5 pm….. At 10 pm Lynn managed to produce a tasty adhoc meal for us all which went some way to soaking up the alcohol we had consumed!!

The next day, hoping to work off the excesses of the previous evening, I walked the ‘severe’ circular dark green diamond walk above the port, followed by a refreshing swim in the river and Stewart drove Peter back to Dinant to collect the motor cycle.

With the electrics on the pontoon too weak to sustain our washing machine, we moved back over to the more reliable borne on the quay. Lynn and I walked up to ‘Le Drapeau’ and explored the ‘Interdit’ ruined Chateau Thierry.


Chateau Thierry.

After the successful SEG reunion in Dinant back in May, Peter had decided to join some ex-colleagues at Cambrai for the weekend, where Bob Stewart had arranged for us to visit Tank Deborah at Flesquieres. We booked a couple of nights in the very pleasant Hotel Beatus, which is owned by the man who discovered the tank after six years of extensive research. Deborah was buried two metres beneath the battlefield and will be the main subject of a new museum. At present only private viewings are available.

We were up early on Saturday 8th August for the 2 hour ride to Cambrai and arrived there as the rest of the group were finishing breakfast. After checking into our room, we all went to visit the tank which had taken part in the famous attack at Cambrai in 1917. Our guide was very informative and also showed us the museum next to it, which housed some interesting artefacts gathered from the battlefield. Afterwards we stopped at the Memorial which overlooks the battlefield and stands on the site of the German front line.


A superb scale model in the hotel lobby.


         The barn in which Deborah is exhibited. The white BMW is one of two SEG bikes                                                now owned by ex members of the Group.


‘Deborah’ – Four of her crew were killed when she was hit by 5 artillery rounds.


          Centre of the map, the German position.                   The view from there today.

After a short break at the hotel, we set off in a mixed convoy of motorcycles, and cars towards Arras. Peter led the way as we had visited the sites before. Our second visit to the interesting Wellington Quarry was as informative as before and we also stopped at the British Memorial and Cemetery so that Peter Cane could visit the wall with his grandfather’s name on it. Next stop was the imposing Vimy Ridge Memorial- much busier than it had been on our previous visit.

An excellent evening meal ‘Chez Dan’ in Cambrai (why hadn’t we found it during our winter’s stay there we wondered?) prompted us to book in the following evening too.


The waitress gets more than she bargained for!

The following morning, after a fortifying breakfast, we set off towards the Somme. I decided to accept Jan and Chris Walker’s offer of a seat in their car rather than riding pillion. Our first stop was the very moving Delville Wood at Longueval which has a battle ground, cemetery, memorial and museum on site.


Delville Wood, One of the most moving WW1 sites we’ve visited.

Next, a brief stop at the ‘Windmill Site’ and Tank Memorial on the main Bapaume/Albert road followed by a brief coffee break at the interesting and well placed ‘Le Tommy Cafe’ where I had time to view the reconstructed trenches and small museum.


                                      The Windmill Site and Tank Memorial  at Pozieres.

The site of the huge crater of Lochnagar at La Boiselle was much improved since our previous visit, partly owing to the absence of coach loads of somewhat disinterested adolescents on their mobile phones. It is now possible to commemorate your visit by commissioning a brass plaque (25euro) which is fixed onto the planks of the new walkway; a good idea which will no doubt generate much needed income for the upkeep of this popular memorial.

As the temperature rose, we headed to Beaumont Hamel and the Newfoundland Regiment Memorial and battleground, where you can walk around and see just how close the armies were on the front line. This time we could climb the Caribou Memorial and view the battleground from on high.


Next stop, a welcome cuppa and snack at the nearby Ulster Tower, run by friendly Irish folk, before heading back to Cambrai – the group splitting up to take in different sights en route.

That evening we enjoyed another meal ‘Chez Dan’ and all agreed that it had been a splendid weekend, combining a reunion with an interesting and reflective view of part of the Western Front.

The following morning most of the group set off home and we stopped off in the port to visit Carol and John on ‘Plover’. After all, Cambrai had been our home for one winter.


The Bikers set off back to England after a great weekend.

We reached Waulsort by mid-afternoon and were pleased to find that Sally and Mike had turned up on ‘Chouette’ – so that meant more aperos on board ‘Anthonia’, together with Carol and Jeremy, while we caught up with their news.

We had less than a day before the arrival of my friend Sophie.

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