Flesquières

Monument to the Nations

Dedicated to the memory of those who fought at Cambrai.

On the hilltop just outside Flesquières on the way to Ribécourt is this fine new monument which was unveiled on 24 November 2007.

The ground was generously made available by Madame Jacques de Valicourt and Monsieur Bertrand de Valicourt and the monument built with the aid of the Royal Tank Regiment, the Royal Engineers and local involvement.

M Philippe Gorczynski a local authority on the battle and writer of: Following the Tanks has been a principle organiser behind the monument as well being the President of the Tank of Flesquières Association.

M Philippe Gorczynski

M Philippe Gorczynski describes the monument

 

Symbols

Waiting to raise the German flag

Waiting to raise the German flag

The location is situated on part of the German trench system.

The layout of the paths represent the Union Flag, each cross pointing towards part of the battlefield.

In the centre a block of concrete represents the defences of the Hindenburg line crossed by the tracks of a tank advancing towards Cambrai. Around the tracks can be seen the footprints of the supporting infantry.

Within the ensemble is a semicircle of bricks marking the position of the former windmill which had been destroyed by the Germans.

To the rear are flagpoles bearing the (modern) flags of all the nations concerned in the fighting.

Two in particular may seem unusual: The United States and China. In fact, railway engineers from New York were responsible for bringing the tanks up to the battle zone and the often forgotten Chinese Labour Corps worked throughout to assist in preparing the tanks.

Plaques at the entrance to the small enclosure list the names of all the Allied units involved in the battle whilst an excellent panel provides a detailed view and explanation of the battlefield.

Representing the American Engineers

Representing the American Engineers

Roses still blooming

During the war a small military cemetery was created down the lane opposite the monument. Though long gone, the graves having been moved to other cemeteries, some of the roses that were planted in the cemetery have continued to thrive and cuttings from these have been planted in the monument grounds.

The unveiling ceremony was attended by a number of members of the Royal Tank Regiment both past and present as well as many of the local inhabitants.

The cutting of the ribbon was undertaken by Lieutenant General David Leakey Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Regiment, who proceeded to give an admirable speech in both French and English.

Members of a number of reenactment societies added colour by parading in uniforms of the period.

Flesquières we were told was the ideal emplacement for such a memorial. From its height much of the battlefield can be seen and it also represents a part of the battlefield where the fighting was particularly heavy.

On the 20th, the actual anniversary of the battle, children from the communes' infant schools had been out visiting the numerous cemeteries across the battlefield putting up remembrance crosses and learning about the battle.

The local Education Board hope that this will help them understand - even at a very young age - why they see so many Scots in some villages, the significance of the monuments and the part that their own villages played in the events.

 

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The burial of Josef Himmelreich The burial of Josef Himmelreich
Cambrai Parade Cambrai Parade