My connection with the Great War began as a 10 year old at Primary School, sneaking out of a Robotics after school group, I went to the school library and found a huge book by David Chandler called the Greatest Battles in Human History. It covered Blenheim, Waterloo, Naseby, Normandy and Stalingrad, but one picture caught my attention.
The picture was the Bridge of Riqueval with literally hundreds of British and Commonwealth soldiers sat on the Canal bank in 1918, when Allied Forces broke through the Hindenburg Line, it is a picture of triumph and conquest. It is one of the defining images of the time. I was about to start reading it when i got found by one of the older children in the school and was sent back to class. 3 months later i found the same book in a skip outside school, i took the book home.
22 years later, last April I was asked to join a Recce trip to the Somme. Alongside my Friends Paul Reed, Tim Thurlow, Mark Allen and Kevin Little I drove to the Hindenburg Line and most Importantly to Riqueval Bridge itself.
For me it was a moment of great Joy and reflection, tears rolling down my face, i couldnt believe that i was there, it was also a moment of sadness and reawakening of memories from days gone by. It was a moment of triumph for me, my childhood ambition fulfilled on a wet Sunday Afternoon on the St Quentin Canal. I observed and I most importantly remembered. I will always be indebted to the lads who were with me that day, to share that moment is something i will never ever forget.