Extract taken from The Ascott Grapevine Autumn 2016 edition.
On the 10th August 1916, Reginald Tiddy died at the Battle of the Somme, in Belgium. Many of you will be aware of the significant part that Reginald Tiddy played in the revival of English folk music and dancing and Ascott’s history in the 20th Century. A group of 44, of which were 40 villagers and 4 friends of a villager, felt that a visit to Reginald’s grave at Laventie, in the Somme region, on the centenary of his death, was appropriate. A four day journey was organized by Brian and Ingrid Ridley comprising a visit to Amiens, France, on the first day to begin a journey through the arena of the First World War including a visit the cemetery at Etaples to see the grave of the Grandfather of Liz Bell to lay a wreath of remembrance. It was at this cemetery that the enormity of the numbers of men from Great Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth who died really began to sink in.
The next day we visited Newfoundland Park where the remnants of a series of trenches, which had been preserved by the Canadian government who had bought the land where the men of Newfoundland were based, providing an insight of how the trenches were sighted in relation to the German lines. We visited the site of one of the huge craters left after 60,000 lbs of ammonal explosives were tunnelled under the German held land. The next stop was at Thiepval at the major site and memorial to the fallen soldiers. Many of you may have seen the monument on the
television when Prince William and Princess Kate, heads of government and other dignitaries made speeches and laid wreaths in memory of the death of so many.
We moved on to Laventie to visit Reginald Tiddy’s grave and on the way we saw many, many cemeteries in memory of the fallen of various troops of the various battalions fighting the German army. In the evening we witnessed the Last Post at Menin Gate in Ypres, which is a ceremony conducted every evening at 20:00 hrs. We stayed over night in Ypres, the town was completely rebuilt after the German army flattened the town as part of their siege tactic and there was plenty of memorabilia in the museum and in and around the town.
We moved on at midday, having completed the main objective of our visit, to Ghent where a local tour guide showed us around the town giving detailed knowledge of the town’s history, which was interesting but still showing the effects of the war. The next day we travelled to Bruges to be met by the same local tour guide who showed us the beauty and mixed history of the city, mixed because various ‘countries’ had occupied it over the centuries, Spain and France amongst the many. There was sufficient time left to buy our own memorabilia of the journey. At 12:30 midday
we made a dash for the ferry at Calais to catch the 18:30 ferry home and then arrived back at Ascott at 22:00.
A great and memorable trip.