Now: Bul­le­court and its mem­o­ries of the Great War

The Oban Times - - THE GREAT WAR -

I had the priv­i­lege of vis­it­ing Bul­le­court and Ar­ras with my mother and chil­dren in 2009.

Dur­ing our visit we were lucky to meet a lo­cal fig­ure who had col­lected re­minders of the war from the fields and coun­try­side around Bul­le­court, and he was equally de­lighted to meet fam­ily of one of the tank crews. He took us to visit his col­lec­tion which was housed in the barn at the end of his gar­den, and which has since been made into a mu­seum which takes his name: Musée Jean et Denise Le­taille. An­gus’s name can be seen there on a list of those who died in and around the Bul­le­court area.

In April 2010, a plaque was un­veiled be­side the church in mem­ory of the tank crews of D Bat­tal­ion, Heavy Branch Ma­chine Gun Corps. A piece of cater­pil­lar track from one of the de­stroyed tanks lies in front of the plaque. In this area of France the mem­ory of those who died here, far from home, is still alive and vis­i­ble; memo­ri­als and mon­u­ments abound in all the vil­lages, and farm­ers are still dig­ging up shells and parts of equip­ment every time they plough their fields.

It is dif­fi­cult for us, in th­ese days of con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion and easy travel, to imag­ine what it was like at that time for th­ese sol­diers to be so far from home and so com­pletely dis­con­nected from their fam­i­lies, with only the oc­ca­sional post­card or let­ter for news. Vis­it­ing th­ese bat­tle­grounds far from Oban made me re­alise how hard it must have been both for th­ese men to have come such a long way, in such cir­cum­stances, and for their fam­i­lies who were left with nei­ther body to bury nor grave to visit; only sec­ond-hand in­for­ma­tion on the death of their loved ones. Only 100 years sep­a­rates them from us, but we re­ally do live in a dif­fer­ent world now.

Lest we for­get.

Sheila La­mont is from Oban and all her fam­ily lives here. She read French and art his­tory at Ed­in­burgh Univer­sity and mar­ried a French­man whom she men dur­ing her year of study abroad. They lived in the Aix-en-Provence re­gion and moved to Reims in the north of France in 1998; their three chil­dren have dual na­tion­al­ity and all speak English with an Oban ac­cent. Sheila comes home twice a year and you might bump into her this week.

The church at Bul­le­court.

Ar­ras war graves and me­mo­rial.

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