Monday, 14 June 2010

Swiss Roll - Day 2 Route

Continuing the routes for our cycle to Switerland next month, here's the route for Day 2, from Arras to Soissons, around 80 miles in total (luckily it's nice and flat, as you can see on the elevation):

Bike route 385866 - powered by Bikemap

While Day 1 takes us through the World War 1 Flanders battlefield, centred around Ypres, Day 2 moves on to the Somme battlefield. The Battle of the Somme, which ran from July to November 1916, was the first major test of Kitchener's volunteer army. The two (yes, two!) mile advance cost 420,000 British casualties.

The Germans had two years to prepare their defensive system of trenches, and the casualty figures show how the military leadership was struggling to adapt to the new realities of war.

The battle also marked the debut of the tank.

A British tank at the Somme

The route takes us south from Arras through Bapaume, Peronne to finish in Soissons (which is apparently one of the oldest towns in France).

Here are German troops (hard to mistake them with their pointy helmets!) marching through Peronne during their occupation:

Having cycled near here in 2006, I know it's a beautiful area and almost impossible to link to such pointless death and devastation on a sunny summer's day...

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