Saturday 27th august 2011.
After the previous day annual parades of the 26th of August where the people of Vernon and surrounding areas pay their respect, by holding ceremonies at the monuments to the resistance and memorials to the British soldiers. We went back at a more leisurely pace. We started at the `Worcesters Layby` as the locals call it, on the Tilly road out of Vernonnet. We took in the peaceful calm of the area and what Arthur Gough said of his experiences there. At one point in August 1944 the 1st Worcesters had a forward HQ and first aid post here. Arthur led the way up the steep road away from the Malvern stone monument. Looking for the place near the road where he spent one of the nights in August `44` defending the area. He spoke of how it had rained all night and of how the water had come down the hill, washing over him and filling the ditch. On the left of the road the terrain fell off steeply and on the right it was a steep rise having large boulders and being heavily wooded, a Very tough place to attack against. PhotosTi-T13. We were going to have lunch at this location until a sudden downpour of rain forced us into the cars and onto the Cemetery at Vernonnet.
At Vernonnet Cemetery we had the chance to pay our respects at the graves of the French War dead from the 1914-18 war. We tidied up the graves of the Worcesters and the men attached, by removing the old poppy crosses and straightening the bouquets. Arthur told us of how Sgt Hockley and Pte. Grainger were either side of him when they were killed and a few days after the battle when the bodies were recovered, these two were missing. Arthur led the pioneers by motorbike to the place where they were. Arthur spoke of how he will never forget that Sgt. Hockley was still in the same position on his knees, as he was when he was killed. It was a very emotional time for Arthur, and he laid an extra cross each at these two graves. Photos VC1-VC16. We had lunch under umbrellas and in cars as the heavens opened up again and then when the sun re appeared we took a short stroll to a Tabac for a drink.
Arthur wanted to visit a chateau where in 1944 he and some mates were invited by the then owners children to a meal with the family, the Chateau was then used as a short rest area. Arthur re visited the Chateau 10 years ago with Richard Fox and they were inside the gates when the owner appeared from his jogging session, after telling him that Arthur was there in `44` they were invited in for a look around. Arthur Posed inside the gates for some photos and then decided to walk up to somebody who we thought were the owners, but it was a gathering of a large French family that had rented it for the day. Arthur had got talking to a young lady who spoke fluent English and invited him to go inside for a look around, we went inside but only as far as the foyer as there was the rest of the large family behind some glass doors enjoying a great looking feast. After some more photos outside where the river Seine runs not too far away we walked back to the entrance and the cars. On the way we could see the stable block where Arthur was billeted and has some photos at home of him there with some bren carriers. Photos C1-C14.
It was getting on to late afternoon. So Arthur and Richard headed for their hotel and the rest of us headed for the shops to buy the provisions for that evenings BBQ. We had a good BBQ with Arthur and Richard bringing some drink with them (cheers!). It was a bit of a farewell meal as Arthur and Richard were heading back home the following day.
Sunday 28th August. We decided to call into Vernon Town Cemetery to have another look at the grave of Pte. Treadgold, We done the same as at Vernonnet by getting the crosses central etc. After, we had a walk to the French Monuments and graves, which was very interesting. We paid our respects, with Harry Massam placing a poppy cross at one of the monuments. Just at the end of our walk around this part of the cemetery we came across the lone grave of a Pte. Cosnell of the east Surrey Regiment, with the date of 3rd September 1914. A poppy cross was duly laid at his grave. Photos VTC1-VTC 14.
After the Cemetery we travelled across the river to the remains of the old bridge with the Mill House perched at the end. Also near the bridge is the keep of an old castle.
We crossed the Pont Clemenceau back to the Vernon side of the Seine to Pienthievre Quay to have a closer look at the memorial to the British 43rd Division memorial and the one to the Nottinghamshire Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Armoured Corps. Photos, PQ1-PQ.10. Poppy Crosses were laid at these memorials. We then enjoyed a picnic lunch on the bank of the River Seine, followed by some more sight seeing.
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