Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Lest We Forget

Tomorrow, 1st July, 2016, will be the 100th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. Here is a single page transcribed from the diary of Captain 3/153a J. Mitchell, New Zealand Medical Corps. ex of the Royal Army Medical Corps. (Territorial) - Sergeant Major. My great uncle.
Having already served, and survived 81 days on the Gallipoli Peninsula, he was transferred to France on 22nd June 1916 after a week's special leave to the UK to visit family, [my grandmother was his sister]. Having survived the Somme, he went on to fight in the Battle of Passchendaele.
This brave man survived the war and lived the rest of his days as a chicken farmer around Sydney, Australia. He was born and bred in Little Lever, living in Radcliffe, Lancashire before emigrating to NZ around 1912.

"On Sept 7th 1916 arrived at Saint Gratien [North of Paris] at 4.30pm. Continuous rumble of guns in the distance, especially being about 5 miles from firing. Come tomorrow arrived at Dernancourt about 2pm where we all had to pitch [the] operating tent. All officers slept together in it unlit. Left Dernancourt at 9am Saturday 9th Sept 1916. Arrived at Fricourt Camp at noon where we bivouacked overnight, the 9th and 10th. Captains Short, Kenny and Crawford went out with bearers on the night of the 10th. The trenches pounded to bits by our guns, and dugouts and German trenches - really wonderful. Continual heavy gunfire, guns all around us.

13th Sept 1916 - went to huts at Fricourt and left Flat [FlatIron Copse A.D.S - Advanced Dressing Station] on the morning of the 15th for fear from the Copse beyond, marching about a mile and a half. I left Fricourt to find the transport and went beyond Contalmaison thus back to Mametz where I found transport. Parties of Hun prisoners were being brought in by our men in droves of 50 or 60. I passed large numbers of reserves from the Scottish Divisions about Contalmaison and when I got to our A.D.S [Advanced Dressing Station] at Flat [FlatIronCopse], a large number of wounded and prisoners were being brought in.

The Huns were putting over high and the road was just crowded with guns and even an A.D.S in a Hun dugout.
I got orders to take the transport to Green Dump and we moved off in the darkness through a valley just blown to bits by the HE [High Explosive]. The flashes, bark and roar of the guns noted the bursting of every HE all the way. We were ordered to place our transport between two batteries of 4.5QF [4.5 inch Howitzer] - a rotten place to be.
16th Sept 1916. A premature burst from the battery a few yards away from us killed one man, wounded 7 and killed 6 horses. I was lying under lumber and as close to the burst as the men who were killed and wounded.

17th Sept 1916. Very wet, rotten mud up to the knees and raining heavily. 3 enemy HE bursts close to me and flung the earth over my tent. Ordered the horses to be removed and men to shift out of it to across the valley. I went myself but could not get shelter as all the dugouts were full up, so decided to risk it and returned to Flat [FlatIron Copse A.D.S] cold and wet. As I was riding in the same evening a HE burst about 12 yards from me. I thought my number was up, but luckily thank God, I wasn't hit. Our troops have done marvellously, but the cost is heavy. We've had 6 men killed and about 30 wounded. Major Martin, Captain Bogle killed. Captain Good and Captain Brown wounded".

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Trial Run.

Once we were home from Spain I arranged a full mechanical and habitation overhaul for the motorhome, and also a few modifications to the 12V systems to rectify a couple of problems that had developed with the battery charging system and the fridge running when the vehicle engine was running. The problems were related to faulty relays and were fixed by installing a modern electronic voltage sensing relay between the leisure and engine batteries rather than replacing the complete control panel they were mounted on, the advantage not only being cost, but also the mods allowed the use of a modern electronic relay rather than the ignition voltage controlled mechanical ones that had failed.

All that was left to do was try everything out not too far away from home before we ventured further afield during the summer.

We booked a few days on the Caravan Club Southport site as we had been told its location was right on the front with close proximity to town. We were not disappointed - it is one of the best kept sites we have been on, with spotlessly clean facilities. Southport and the beach are just 40 minutes from home.

It is a linear site built on the old route of the Cheshire Lines Railway from Aintree Liverpool into what was, before it was demolished, Lord Street Station Southport. There is great access to mile upon mile of safe cycle trackway and all completely flat.

The site is also quiet and peaceful even though it is placed right next to the Pleasureland amusements site. There is a Morrisons supermarket within walking distance, which has a great cafe, where we found afternoon tea at just £1.25 each. Full English breakfast tomorrow.

The only thing that could have been better was the weather, but that turned out better than had we stayed at home. Further more, every modification I designed to update the camper's electronics are working perfectly. The main benefit being that the fridge freezer can once again be run while travelling, without flattening the leisure batteries.