Day six: Aubers to Arras

A day focused on keeping our rubbery legs operating in the continuing heat – although it was only a tepid 28c today.

It was another day of remembrance, with a specific focus on Canada. Our route took us up a trail on the eastern, steep side of Vimy ridge (ironically, it was 5e steepness of this slope which prevented the Germans mounting a counter attack once the Canadian divisions had successfully taken the ridge).

The Canadian Memorial to the 11,285 unaccounted for Canadian soldiers who fought in WW1 is one of the best known of all the war memorials, it’s white stone towering high on the ridge which dominates the landscape for miles around. What was perhaps more memorable, is the undisturbed landscape surrounding the site. The shell craters and collapsed trenches resemble a mogul field, minus the snow.

At the base of the ridge are more cemeteries (the Canadian graves are on the ridge itself) – British, a French national cemetery with 11,443 graves, and the lesser-visited German cemetery, with an astounding 44,833 graves (not all from the Battle of Arras, of which the attack on Vimy Ridge was part, but from numerous smaller cemeteries in the wider area). The Canadian and British armies replaced the French in this section of the front, with the French being redeployed to Verdun.

Approach to Vimy Ridge
Canadian Memorial on Vimy Ridge. The twin mining slag heaps of Loos are in the background.
British and French cemeteries at La Targette
The immense German cemetery

Daily km: 42

DMM: What a stupid war. Sadly it was soon followed by an even more destructive one.

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