SSNS Home > Senior Years > Curricula 9-12 > Grade 11 > Canadian History > Battlefields Tour > 6 August 2010


6 August 2010, Friday
Neuvelle-Saint-Vaast, Vimy Ridge, Mont St. Eloi, and Notre Dame de Lorette
by Raymond Shirritt-Beaumont


This was another exciting day. We got lost a couple of times before getting out of Lille, but eventually found A1 and headed south. We turned off at D40 and got disoriented yet another time, but ended up in Drocourt, where we took pictures by the war memorial with its rooster.

We travelled along D919 and stopped to take our pictures in front of an old mansion in Bois-Bernard before going on through Fresnoy-en-Gohelle and Arleaux-en-Gohelle, where we had our picture taken in front of a shrine. At Bailleul-Sir-Berthoult, we turned right onto D49 and proceeded through Thelus to the field near Neuvelle-Saint-Vaast that I had visited during the Battlefield tour in July. Here I explained the details of the battle in April 1917. The boys looked hard for artefacts, Kieran finding a shrapnel ball and Liam a bullet, a rare find, but unfortunately lost later in the day.

After a picnic lunch, we proceeded through Neuville-Saint-Vaast to Vimy Ridge, arriving there at 2:00 p.m. We purchased Vimy medals at the gift shop and picked up tickets for the tunnel tour at 3:00 p.m. While waiting for the tour, we explored the reconstructed trenches from which the PPCLI set off from on 9 April 1917. It was a warm, sunny day, and we took our time.

After our return, we had a guided tour of the tunnels, which were the highlight of the day. They were remarkable. We saw the underground headquarters occupied by Agar Adamson of the PPCLI, and the officer’s mess, where he would have eaten his meals. We also passed through the section where the PPCLI stood for thirty-six hours behind the Black Watch waiting for the signal to go up to the surface and attack on April 9. I could imagine my soldier, C. D. “Dick” Richardson, standing right beside me. It was a weird feeling.

Once the tour was finished, we went up to the memorial and looked around. After pictures there, we headed off to Mont St. Eloi, which is a remarkable ruin that stands out for miles around. It was there that Liam discovered he had lost his bullet. So we went back to Vimy to see if we could find it. No luck.

From Vimy, we went through Souchez on D937 to Notre Dame de Lorette, where we looked over the valley and took pictures in front of the cemetery itself. Afterwards, we headed north and home along D937 to Bethune. We made a few wrong turns that took us through such places as Verquigneul, Essars, Richebourg, and Estaires, before reaching D945. Once on that route, it was clear sailing through Sailly-sur-la-Lys and Erquinghem to the A25 near Nieppe. From there, we proceeded to Lille without incident, arriving just after 8:00 p.m.


The Drocourt War Memorial with its “Rooster”.
The Grand House at Bois-Benard
The Chapelle de Notre Dame de Tongre at Arleaux-en-Gohelle
The bombs by the side of a field near Neuville-Saint-Vaast
The boys taking a break from shrapnel hunting
There's plenty of shrapnel in this potato field
Preparing for battle in a reconstructed trench at Vimy Ridge
Emmeline and the bomb, Vimy Ridge
A German pillbox
with Emmeline manning the gun
Touring the tunnels at Vimy Ridge
One of many tunnels now blocked off
The entrance to tunnel headquarters
Family portrait at the Vimy Memorial
Family with Vimy Memorial in background
The Ruins of Mont-Saint-Eloi, visible for miles
Wan at the entrance to Notre Dame de Lorette