Today the papers and radio are noting the archaeological and historical work being carried out on a World War I burial pit at Fromelles, in Northern France. It’s fascinating, particularly as I’m off to the Somme with some friends tomorrow. (There are 26 of us in total). The Fromelles ‘action’ was, I understand, intended to block a potential counter-attack, 40km north of the main Somme battleground. In a 24-hour period, over 5,000 Australians and over 1,000 British soldiers had been killed.
We’re visiting Ypres, Albert, Delville Wood, Thiepval Wood, Peronne and many other smaller sites. I know how moved I was visiting the WWII war grave at Bayeux some years ago, and I suspect this will even more affecting.
I’m taking with me Andrew Motion’s anthology of World War I poetry, which contains some less-well-known poets, as well as the more famous ones.