Bouyed by the euphoria of a winning clean sweep of the opening matches last night and the fact that many people didn't finish dinner until 11.30pm it was somewhat of a subdued start to the day as the group assembled at 8.00am around the castle ready to make our way in the bus across France and into Belgium to meet our next hosts.
Along the way stops were planned at various historically significant sites around the Somme region that were pivotal in the outcome of World War 1. Upon our arrival in the region if on queue the weather dramatically changed for the worse to allow everyone a truer appreciation for exactly the horrendous conditions that our diggers were forced to endure during the battles. In addition to the heavy clay fields, the landscape was dotted with plentiful reminders of the recent snow storms that have hit this region.
Throughout the course of approximately four hours the group visited: the Thiepal memorial to the tens of thousands of British soldiers whose final resting place remains unknown, walking through real trenches that have survived since World War 1, the town of Villiers Brettoneux that was saved by the Australians during that war and the efforts that the French have gone to to honour their Australian saviours and finally the main Australian War Memorial of the region which still bears the shell and bullet marks of when the Germans attempted to obliterate this memorial in World War 2.
After this very sobering experience many of the group expressed an additional level of understanding to the history topics relating to these battles that they have previously studied and a renewed appreciation for the horrendous conditions that the diggers faced on a daily basis.
From there it was time to say au revoir to France as we headed into Belgium and towards our next hosts.