There are many people who are interested in The Great War, but there are far fewer who have a true passion for it. A passion for remembrance, for sharing the stories of the men who sacrificed so much, and an understanding of what it means to walk that hallowed ground. Over the past year I have been fortunate enough to make new friends who have left a part of themselves forever on the Old Front Line, as I have. To learn and share this endless journey with them is a wonderful thing.
Guest post – Martin Garnett
First of all, I’d like to thank Lucy for letting me write my first ever blog on The Great War as a guest, especially on her page, it is a great honour. The Great War is something close to my heart, it has become intertwined with my life, it had remained dormant since I left Senior School, watching the occasional documentaries that came on close to Armistice day, it wasn’t until my Father got very poorly that we decided that we would make a journey to the Somme.
The Somme Battlefield is a place that you do not fully understand until you are there, my Father didn’t understand it. The first place that we visited when we got there was Sheffield Memorial Park, where the men of Accrington, Sheffield, Barnsley, Leeds, Chorley and Bradford are commemorated. Myself and my Father parked our car outside Serre Number 2 cemetery at Hébuterne, and we took a very steady walk down the track together.
Two years later on a warm summer’s evening we went back down again, this time with a much better understanding of what happened there on that July morning in 1916. There is no other place that touches me personally, we remembered more intimately the two Battalions from my Town that were mown down on the now Farmer’s field, the faces of those who had given so much for so little. At Railway Hollow Cemetery I visited the grave of Alf Goodlad of the Sheffield City Battalion, his epitaph reading, “The French are a great nation worth fighting for”. He died for them as well.
We have made together 3 pilgrimages to France and Belgium, meeting some wonderful people and forging a much closer relationship, we are visiting the Citadel of Verdun in June. I am slowly developing my skills as a Battlefield Guide, my maiden tour as a guide was for the centenary of the Armistice on the Ypres Salient, it was personally my greatest accomplishment, I hope and pray that it won’t be the last one.
I’m looking forward to returning to France in March, back to the Somme, back to the cemeteries, back to where the youth of my country was so needlessly and carelessly slaughtered, back to my spiritual home, and the Ghosts that linger there, and the Earth abideth forever.