Flanders and the Somme 1998

On the 19th Aug. a party of 29 which included committee members and others left Cork airport to tour the battlefields, memorials and cemeteries of the Great War [1914-1918] in Flanders and the Somme region. The graves of many young soldiers from West Cork, some of them forbearers of group members were visited. It was also an opportunity to see the work been undertaken by the young workers from both parts of this Island in building the Peace Park and Round Tower.  

The group included the following: George Duke, Andrew & Caroline Coleman, Barry Ellis, Peggy Ellis, Marion Gandy, Eta Quinn, Jerry Holland, Billy Good, Clive Good, Con Ahern, Pat Wilmot, Pat Quinlan, Margaret Desmond, Mary Barry, Noreen Crowley, Jerry Crowley, Albert Duke, Ann Madden, Philip McCarthy, Ian & Elizabeth Beamish, Edward & Elizabeth Harris, Leo McMahon, John & Nora Whittaker, and Georgina Crowley.

The tour was excellently organised by Flanders Tours for which retired Col. Graham Parker O.B.E. and Andy Tonge acted as tour guides, with Dave Slater of Kings Ferry in charge of coach travel.

Over the next few days visits were made to various battle sites and memorials from Passhendale to Messines Ridge, Rue du Bois where a group photograph was taken, to the Somme—Thiepval ,Guillemont and Guinchy. Group wreaths were laid at Rue du Bois, Thiepval, Guillemont and Locher at the grave of Major Willie Redmond. Individual visited the graves of loved ones where prayers were said and wreaths were laid.

The 8 o’clock evening ceremony at the Menen  Gate had a special welcome for the group with a wreath being laid by the youngest member of the tour group.  

A visit to the Lochhagar Crater, the largest man-made in the world, was of eminence interest .It was created by detonating 95,000 tons of explosives. The dept of the crater is 130 feet with 1,000 soldiers buried in the chalk clay at the bottom.

The group had brought with it a beautiful crafted mahogany Celtic Cross which is now erected at the southern end of the park, this was formally handed over by the committee chairman Andrew Coleman to Tony Crowe a trustee of the park project.

Just a few weeks before our visit near Artillery Cemetery a memorial was unveiled to the poet Francis Ledwidge to which the group paid a visit where a tour member recited one of his poems. (Click here for printable version)

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