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Aim, Focus, Shoot - The HyPyC blog
Retracing Steps - Our 2019 World War Road Trip

Retracing Steps - Our 2019 World War Road Trip

In 1999 Anthony and I embarked upon what at the time felt like a monumental road trip. As part of our history lessons at school we got to take a trip to France and Belgium. This was an epic bus trip that took us to various different battlefields and monuments from the Great Wars. It was a fantastic adventure - we were with our friends and for many of us it was the first time we had been abroad. I had been to France the year before with my family, but this trip was something else!

Recreated Allied war trenches

Imagine, a bus full of 12 and 13 year olds exploring the northern regions of France and Belgium. We visited the vast monument at Thievpal, listened to the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate, and saw huge craters from the Battle of the Somme - such an experience, and a lot for a young mind to appreciate and take in.

Vimy Memorial for Canadian Soldiers

Fast forward 20 years and myself and Anthony will once again take this journey in 2019. We have always wanted to revisit the battlefield sites and try to retrace our steps. What better time than the 20th anniversary of our original trip! This time, we will not be in a bus full of kids, but a VW T5 Campervan! This epic journey will take us from the White Cliffs of Dover, across the English Channel, along the Normandy Coast, and deep into Belgium.

If anyone knows what this memorial is please let me know!

We hope to visit some of the memorials and sites that we saw 20 years ago. We want to see if we can remember these sites, and how we appreciate them now that we are older and (supposedly) wiser. It should hopefully take on a whole new meaning and provide us with a mix of nostalgia and poignancy.

The Route

So where will we be heading in 2019? We will pick up our campervan from Leicestershire and travel down to Dover. From there we will head across on a car ferry to Calais. We will then stay at Dunkirk, Ypres, Bastogne and Thievpal. The following is our itinerary and route:

Locations

  • England - Dover
  • France - Calais
  • France - Dunkirk
  • Belgium - Ypres
  • Belgium - Bastogne
  • France - Thievpal

Sites

  • Poziers Memorial
  • Thievpal Memorial
  • Lochnagar Crater
  • Menin Gate
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery
  • Bedford House Cemetery
2019 Road Trip Route Map

The Sites

As you can see we hope to visit some of the most well-known sites in France and Belgium. We have actually visited Thievpal and some of the other memorials in our 1999 trip. It will be interesting to see what we feel and what effect these important places have on us in the present day.

Gun platform from WW2

Mode of Transport - Bertie!

I have been in a VW campervan before during my Scotland road trip so I am prepared. The only daunting thing will be to drive in Europe on the other side of the road! I am sure we will be fine. We have hired a campervan through the awesome website Camperbug - you can find loads of cool vans here for hire around the UK.

This is set to be one of my most adventurous endeavours yet, lets hope all goes to plan and we can relive our school trip of 1999 and more! I will post future blog articles with photos and stories from our journey so stay tuned!

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