Fields of Fire Travel Client Anne Strickland's Posting: "Do His Bit"

Anne Strickland travelled with Fields of Fire Battlefield Tours during the Return to Vimy Tour 2017 with her husband, Roy.  She shared this note about her family history and her reason for travelling with us on the Return To Vimy 2017 commemorative tour. As Anne has included quotations directly from her uncle's correspondence - his voice travels through time from letters his family and school received while he was at the front. Thanks for sharing this part of your family history with us Anne.  Remembrance is personal.

HUGH GORDON MUNRO

DEC 30, 1896 - OCT 9, 1916

Corporal, 15Bn CEF

(48th Highlanders of Canada)

 

This memoriam is in gratitude to my uncle Hugh Gordon Munro and all those like him who did their bit.

While on tour, it was gratifying to see the Regina trench at the Battle of the Somme where Hugh Gordon Munro was injured.  I have a letter, the Nursing Sister who looked after Gordon for the two hours he was at the 49 Casualty Clearing BEF Station before he died, wrote to his mother.  In it she said “when I told him he was going to die, he said that he was not in the least afraid, and he had tried to do his bit.”  

I have a number of letters he wrote home from the front, among them, travelling by ship to England and also a letter outlining his furlough to London before going back to the front, prior to his death.  What a privilege to have them. They made him alive for me and so my trip to Vimy Ridge last year was not only to go with Roy, but as an act of memoriam for my Uncle, Hugh Gordon Munro.

While Gordon was over in France, the Oakville High School, sent him a book of pictures, stories and jokes, and I have sent you some of his words from the letter of thanks to the Staff and Pupils of the High School.

 …“I have just put in one of the most pleasant times I have had since I came to Northern France, thanks to the wonderful book you sent. The book arrived last night just at “tea up”.  Tea up is the way supper time is announced.”

“ That night I took it out to show a friend and in making the journey I foundered, in about two feet of mud and water, got hung up on barb-wire and fell off a ladder that had no rung in the middle of it.”

“Perhaps you do not get a good chance to hear about the life out here. I will try to tell you a few things that happen around the part we are in.  We landed in _______ almost 6 months ago and stayed there for a few days and then we took the train to the front.  At the station behind the lines we were excited to get out but then we heard the big guns, I got uneasy.  To make matters worse, we were asked by one of the Imperials (British Army) who we were.  We told him we were going to reinforce the Fifteenth Battalion Canadians.  He said Oh, I don’t think there are many Canadians left.  This cooled us down and I wished I had not been so anxious to see the front.”

 “But things were pretty quiet.  In the trenches you get to do sentry every day and night, and then, by the time you have cooked and slept, it does not take long for the time to pass. There is not much firing going on, but there is continual sniping going on, but it is not very dangerous to anyone. The trenches are 200 to 300 yards apart, although in places they are close as 25 to 30 yards apart.  We opened up a rapid on a German working party first night in.  It is good fun blazing away though.”

 “Rats and Mice are a great pest in your dug-out.  They run over you at night and steal your bread and so on.   I shot a great big one the other night [which] is probably about the best deed I’ve done for a few days.  We will be in the trenches for Christmas and New Years.  I intend to celebrate somehow and intend to sing the German National Anthem to see what happens.  I wish I had paid more attention in my French and German classes as the languages are useful over here…"

 

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Le Fossile: Our Favourite Restaurant in Lille

One of the many cultural pleasures of travelling on a Fields of Fire Battlefield Tour is the opportunity to discover a wonderful dining experience and new food.  Dave and I are very experienced travellers and have had many memorable meals around the world.  Then we had a meal at Le Fossile, in Lille. Dining should elicit experience and now we eagerly recommend this restaurant to our travel clients.  Our appetizer was extraordinary.  I have just discovered Foie Gras de Canard and while in France, chefs prepare this delight in many creative ways.  Le Fossile serves it with an onion marmalade, the ubiquitous fresh French baguette on a slate plate.  Simple.  Delicious. We had steak as our main and on two visits now, this is cooked to prefection, with a Chanteclerc mushroom sauce, accompanied by a local greens salad and ratatouille.  As I have eaten grass-fed steak in Argentina and Kobe beef in Japan, it takes some doing for a chef to impress me.  It has a robust Scotch collection but that isn't what really got our attention.  Dave sampled his birthday year of their century old Bas Laubade Armagnac collection.  As we were on our Return to Vimy Tour, I scouted out their war years' selection.  The current owner is the friendly, professional grandson of Le Fossile's founder - who liked fossils.  Treat yourself to a meal here and handily it is open at 7PM for early diners - reservations recommended for weekends.  Locals and lucky tourists dine at Le Fossile. 60 Rue Saint-Etienne, 59000 Lille, France; +33 3 20 54 29 82

A warm ambiance greets you as you step into Le Fossile.

A warm ambiance greets you as you step into Le Fossile.

Slices of Foie Gras or  Foie Gras de Canard et ses Oignons Confits du Chef . Simple. Delicious.

Slices of Foie Gras or Foie Gras de Canard et ses Oignons Confits du Chef. Simple. Delicious.

Since 1888, more than a century of Armagnac - enjoy a glass after your dinner.

Since 1888, more than a century of Armagnac - enjoy a glass after your dinner.

Scotch for every taste - blends and single malts top the bar.

Scotch for every taste - blends and single malts top the bar.

From our window table in Le Fossile, we watch a game of petanque underway.

From our window table in Le Fossile, we watch a game of petanque underway.

Return to Vimy Newsletter 2017

With only 120 days left before Fields of Fire Tour's group departs on the return to Vimy tour, our newletter is ready.  The tour logistics are all settled and we have a seasoned and professional team ready to guide the Vimy 100 centenary tour.  The demand for this tour was overwhelming and so our group is 200 travellers strong; four buses will carry us through each day's destinations - one group visiting a site at a time.  There are several ceremonies on this tour's itinerary. Having only heard of the daily ceremony that is held at the Menim Gate, every day since 1926 - I personally look forward to the Last Post ceremony there.  Of course, being included at Vimy on April the 9th, 2017 will be the highlight at the end of this once in a lifetime event, with 200 gunners, signallers and their travelling companions.

CJ