I made my first foray into France last week and went on a guided tour of Somme.  Somme was the site of a crushing defeat for British, Canadian, and French forces during World War I.  Before 01 Jul 1916, the British had Welsh miners tunnel for weeks and weeks under German high ground positions that were assumed critical and plant thousands of pounds of explosives underneath them.  At exactly 0730 on the 1st, they detonated the explosives and created craters so massive they they stretched over 150 meters wide.  The idea was to then bombard the Germans with artillery and have ground troops rush in and save the day.  Well, as soon as the troops started moving in, the Germans unsheathed their well-hidden machine guns and mowed down 58,000 men in just one day (killing 20,000 and severely wounding the rest).  Thus began a vicious trench war that lasted for months. 

So many munitions were expended at this battle that every year farmers plowing in the area still uncover dozens of unexploded artillery shells and thousands upon thousands of spent bullets. 

The hike itself was only supposed to be 15 km, but ended up being 21 km (about 13 miles) because our tour guide decided to take the long way around.  I didn't mind the walk, but I didn't appreciate having my night blown away, especially when I had rifle competitions the night before and the morning after. 

It was interesting to see one of the craters courtesy of British handiwork still intact, along with a preserved trench near one of the thousands (yes, thousands) of memorial burial sites in the area.  By the end of the day, we ended up visiting four different large burial sites, and I must admit it was quite humbling to think that so many men gave their lives during this war.

On the way back, my tour group stopped at a bar to savor a nice tall glass of Belgian beer.  While I was there, I decided to order some fries - I was in France after all.  Well, I'm all for going back to calling them "Freedom Fries" again because those fries were terrible.  I swear I've had better fries at 2 o'clock in the morning at a Texas Whataburger served by a Mongoloid dyslexic man-child named Cooter than what I received in France.  For your additional daily history lesson, Belgians actually invented fries.  The French variation of Belgian fries is that they're thinner and longer, sort of like McDonald's fries.  So, in summary, they should really be called Belgian Fries, I guess that the French just had a better marketing campaign. 










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