I had intended this post to be about a Help for Heroes Big Battlefield Bike Ride, what it’s like to ride, what you see and do. I did the Big Battlefield Bike ride in 2010 setting out from Portsmouth Dockyard and finishing in Dunkirk in time to witness the 70th Anniversary of the evacuation of the BEF from Dunkirk, meet some of the veterans and see some of the “Little Ships” before we were brought back to Dover on board the RFA Largs Bay and landed by landing craft on Dover Beach. Most of the photo’s on this blog were taken on that ride.
The photo at the top of this post isn’t one of mine though. It was posted on Twitter this morning by Jo Smith from Help for Heroes who is in France at the moment with a team from Discover Adventure on the BBBR 2013 recce, checking out the route from Paris back to London and various battlefield sites we will stop at on the route. Each BBBR is accompanied by some fantastic military historians who explain key moments in the history of the area we are passing through and put into context what happened and why as well as sharing some of the less well known facts. This year we will be passing through and visiting sites of military history from Agincourt, through World War 1 to World War 2 and stopping at various points to honour those who lost their lives.
Jo’s photo was taken at Lochnagar Crater. The crater is a 70ft deep 300ft across depression created when an underground mine was exploded under the German Lines on the first day of the Somme. You can read more about Lochnagar Crater on its official site or here I’ve always thought of depression as staring into a big hole, that’s not how exRAFAirman describes it in his blog liking it to being locked in a glass cabinet. In my post Don’t Leg it I spoke briefly of the impact of Mental Ill Health on serving and ex service personnel, everyone will have their own experiences and Alex describes how it’s affected him in some posts on his blog they are well worth a read.
By the way the other reason for mentioning the Lochnagar Crater is because the mine was fired on 1st July at the start of what became known as the Battle of the Somme. The Somme offensive was launched to distract German pressure on the town of Verdun. The Battle of Verdun was launched on 21st February 1916, 97 years ago today!