Wrekin Microlight Flying Club
Would any club members be interested in flying to France?
Gordon Faulkner has put together an itinery of places of historical interest in France that he's flown a few times, and like he says, would probably make an ideal first trip to France...
Dear fellow microlight flyers,
Thought you might like a copy of the following; it’s a list of waypoints with a brief history of each and their respective GPS co-ords. The idea occurred to me almost 20 years ago as a themed project but it’s also ideal as a first foreign flight using either Headcorn or Stapleford as your UK departure point with either Abbeville or Amiens as your destination. At time of writing only Abbeville has customs facilities (prior notice required) but Amiens is only a short hop after you’ve been cleared. Both are interesting small towns with non-touristy ambience and the typical French selection of restaurants and bars. In my view staying in a town is much more conducive to great memories than is staying at a slightly more convenient aerodrome motel. A shared taxi or minibus fare is the only extra expense and both towns are close to the aerodromes.
I’ve flown this route several times, the first during 1998 in a Mainair Blade (462) accompanied by a small formation which included an MW6 (532) and a Pegasus XLR (447), all with cruise speeds in the region of 45 – 55mph and powered by Rotax 2-stroke engines. Nowadays microlights such as these and similar ones, still in very good airworthy condition, can be bought for less than £3000 (considerably less in the case of an MW6 or XLR).
Anyway I hope this provides inspiration to plan a cross-channel trip (22 miles) for 2017 but please use a current N/E France airchart and make yourself familiar with Flight Plan and GAR procedures.
Gordon Faulkner (aka The Reverend Hagar)
CRECY, 26th August 1346. N50 15.600 E001 54.000
One kilometre north of the village of Crecy-en-Porthieu is the site of the battle fought between the armies of Philip V1 of France and Edward III of England during the Hundred Years War. Mercenary Genoese crossbowmen on the French side were seriously outclassed for rate of fire and accuracy by English longbowmen firing up to twelve arrows per minute and supported by lightly armoured infantrymen. French suffered severe casualties (thousands killed) while English losses are estimated at 2-3 hundred. French Army fled the battlefield.
AGINCOURT, 25th October 1415. N50 28.000 E002 08.400
Twelve kilometres northeast of Hesdin on the eastside of D928, halfway between the villages of Azincourt (modern spelling) and Thramecourt, near a crossroads, is the site of the battle fought towards the end of The Hundred Years War between the armies of Henry V of England and the absent Charles VI of France. King Charlie had a headache so
delegated command of his estimated 30,000 army to an alliance of noblemen headed by Charles d’Albret. The English were outnumbered, estimated more than 6:1, but were inspired when Henry delivered his famous “St Crispin’s Day Speech” prior to the battle. The French army consisting mainly of cavalry and heavily armoured infantry were defeated, the English longbowmen again causing havoc. Thousands were killed on the French side but English casualties were light. The remains of the French Army fled and dispersed leaving much of their aristocracy either dead on the battlefield or up for ransom.
BATTLE OF VIMY RIDGE 9th April 1917. N50 23.00 E002 46.400
Seven kilometres north of Arras and three kilometres west of the village of Vimy you’ll see the Canadian memorial. Formidable defensive position held by Germans since 1914 was stormed (and taken) by four Canadian divisions attacking from the southwest. Tens of thousands of casualties, more than 18,000 killed, 4,000 German prisoners taken, plus 54 field guns, 104 mortars and 124 machine guns captured. During preliminary artillery bombardment almost one and a quarter million shells fired at German positions, the craters are still visible today. Intensive use of “creeping barrage” artillery strategy saw Canadian infantry following closely behind advancing shell bursts in order to storm German trenches before they could emerge from their deep dug-outs to operate machine guns.
BATTLE OF CAMBRAI Started 20th Nov 1917.
N50 06.350 E003 05.000
“Cambrai Day” is still celebrated by The Royal Tank Regiment. It saw the first use of tanks in battle and was fought on a line flanked by the du Nord and St Quentin canals about twelve kilometres southwest of Cambrai. The heaviest fighting took place to the east of the present day A2 motorway near the village of Havrincourt. Four hundred tanks advanced northwards on a wide front over open ground strewn with barbed wire, infantry following. Attack was at dawn against the Hindenburg Line, a heavily fortified German entrenchment. After preliminary artillery barrage the British tanks with their un-silenced engines moved forward through ground mist. A German infantrymen’s first sight of tanks must have been very intimidating. The object of capturing Bourlon ridge (near Cambrai) was not achieved though the German line rolled back several kilometres on the first day. At the end of
that day more than half the tanks were out of action, mostly due to mechanical breakdown. German counter attacks over next five days re-claimed their lost ground. The battle cost more than 100,000 casualties including 12,000 killed.
BATTLES OF THE SOMME 1916 and 1918.
N50 01.000 E002 41.500 (La Boiselle).
First Battle of the Somme (also known as The Battle of Albert) began on July 1st 1916 and ended on November 19 - 141 days of horror. Allied forces attacked north-eastwards on a line from Beaumont, eight kilometres north of Albert, to Herbecourt, three kilometres south of the River Somme near the present day A1 motorway. No obvious strategic value to the attack except the Allied High Command thought a diversion might relieve pressure on the beleaguered French forces fighting further south at Verdun. The casualties were horrific, one and a half million including more than 200,000 killed. This battle is the source of most of the old WW1 news film clips of Allied soldiers walking steadily into withering German machine-gun fire, especially at La Boiselle.
One kilometre south of La Boiselle is Lochnager Crater, the result of British sappers tunnelling through chalk ground and planting 25 tons of explosive under a strong German position. The explosion it caused was spectacular; it’s shown often on old news clips. At the end of the battle there was no significant change in the position of the front lines.
The Second Battle of the Somme began on March 21st 1918. For details and co-ords of it see “The Red Baron’s Last Flight” narrative which is available in a separate Word file.