Monday, 21 November 2016

Thiepval coincidence

It was a week ago, Sunday 13th November, that saw the 100th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Somme which had begun on 1st July 1916 and therefore lasted 141 days. To mark the occasion, one of our television channels broadcast a programme about seven men who had fought in that battle and their grandchildren's efforts to find out more about it and the parts their ancestors played in it. It was hardly surprising that one of the families visited the Thiepval memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is a war memorial to 72,246 missing British Empire servicemen who died in the Battles of the Somme of the First World War between 1915 and 1918, with no known grave. I thought it austere almost to the point of grim when I visited.

Unable to watch the programme when it was broadcast last week, I recorded it and watched it on Saturday. By sheer coincidence, Saturday was the day on which I started re-reading Robert Goddard's In Pale Battalions, the opening of which takes place at Thiepval.

I had forgotten just how the author reels in his reader, drawing one ever onward. How, one wonders, is it that Leonora was born eleven months after her father was killed at the Somme? What about the unsolved murder that occurred before she was born? Just when you think you have solved one riddle and are working on the next, a new twist reveals that your answer to the first is wrong.

This really is one of those books that is difficult to put down and I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

#1Nana said...

Sounds like a good book. I'm going to look for that one.