No, not at the local Gravesend Tandoori but at the headquarters of the Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks. On Saturday the 18th of January with tickets and photo IDs clutched in hand, we approached the smart young soldier on guard duty at the barracks gate. On his clipboard, our names were ticked off and we were directed to the car park and the Officers Mess.
Entering the Mess, it was anything but – smart young people ensured that our coats were taken promptly, we were informed of the table we would be sitting at and we were offered a drink while we waited in the anti-room for lunch to be called. When lunch was announced, we meandered into the great hall to our allocated tables. Our wonderful surroundings were matched by the wonderful curry and dessert that were consumed while we discussed all manner of things with other table guests however, this was all a pre-cursor to the main event – the speaker Peter Barton
His talk was on the history of some first world war soldiers that had been killed during a 14 hour battle at town called Fromelles in July 1916. The allied attack by British and Australian troops was suppose to distract German attention away from the main assault at the Somme but the attack fail along with the strategy. The bodies of the British, Australian and German soldiers that were found in the fields around Fromelles, were, thanks to modern science, individual identified and subsequently buried in a new “war graves” cemetery in the town.
We left the barracks remembering the young men of long ago that became hero’s of a battle that few had ever heard of…………