Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Somme Trip: Mon 22nd March

A long day in the field today with glorious weather. Basically covered the Thiepval-Courcelette-Boom Ravine areas, but this post will concentrate on some of the more poignant items that still turn up in the fields. Today we found the remains of lots of metal strips that were used to mark the original wooden crosses in the 1920's before the more permanent grave stones were added. To date, we have over 20 names, most buried in Regina Trench Cemetery, but two are in Courcelette Cemetery. One can only guess these metal strips were just dumped when no longer needed. One name we have is Private William Edward Newson, 244, 24th Battalion Australian Infantry. He enlisted on 15/3/15 and served at Gallipolli, landing on 30/8/15 and being evacuated on 1/1/16. He landed in France on 27/3/16 and was killed in action during the bitter fighting for Pozieres on 29/7/16. His medals were sent to his mother, who died and were then kept by his sister. There would seem to have been some bad family blood as his elder brother (actually the 'correct' next of kin after his mother) also tried to claim them. The sister, Mrs I O'Donnell moved to Paddington, London.
In Boom Ravine we came across the bomb-disposal squad who blew up an 'unstable' shell. They also had several in the back of the van - quite how they decide which is stable and which is unstable is a mystery! It was all 'matter of fact' - one can only guess of the fuss that would be made in the UK!
Image No 1: metal grave tag of Pte W.E Newson, and his entry in the cemetery register
Image No 2: grave of Pte W.E Newson, Corcelette Cemetery
Image No 3: Pozieres, in the distance, from Corcelette Cemetery
Image No 4: View of Newfoundland Park which is on the other side of the Ancre Valley, from the dominating heights of the Thiepval ridge. Again the front line trenches show up as chalk marks in the bare fields.

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