18-Jan-2009 -- One week after visiting the only other Confluence Point in the Somme, 50N 3E, I went back out in the Landy towards the small, picturesque village of Longpré-les-Corps-Saints with the aim of completing the pair. The snowy conditions of last week had been replaced by heavy rain, but the odd bright spell gave me hope of not getting too bogged down in a field.
It takes about two hours to get from Lille to Longpré, as the route is far from direct. So I had plenty of time to mull over the flat landscape dotted with WWI cemeteries. As mentioned in my previous report, it was in this region that some of the heaviest fighting of the Great War took place - and the casualty rate was astronomical as a result.
The CP itself was much as described by previous visitors. To get there I crossed the Somme between the villages of Etoile and Longpré and parked the Landy on a narrow strip of asphalt about 100 metres away from the target, near some cylindrical hay bales, before plodding off through the mud. The point is around 50 metres inside a (currently) empty field, and the views in each direction are rather, well, field-y. And a bit pylon-y.
Dark clouds threatened more rain, so I didn't hang around and made my way to the British Cemetery of Longpré-Les-Corps-Saints, situated just 900 metres from the Confluence. This small graveyard is the resting place of just a small fraction (78) of those Commonwealth soldiers who died during the Villers-Bretonneux Action of April 1918. This was the German attack towards the end of the war that sought to secure the high ground around Villers-Bretonneux in order to be able to bombard the strategic city of Amiens and render it useless to the Allies. The attack began on 24 April, but had been repelled by Australian forces by the 25th. As a result it is these two dates that are inscribed as the day of death on the majority of the gravestones in the cemetery.
At the cemetery I bumped into three British visitors whom, along with me, praised the excellent work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in maintaining the hundreds of cemeteries situated in northern Europe. For anyone interested in the WWI history of this region, their website is an excellent introduction.