The latest Association weekend tour was sold out before the closing date so a double decker was required to accommodate all of this year’s ‘battlefielders’. Unforeseen volcanic chaos saw numbers dip slightly in the week before we travelled but a party of 65 set off for France in the early hours of Saturday 1st May. Many of those who travelled to the Ypres Salient with us last year had booked again and the group was the same happy mix of current and former parents, current and former staff, Old Girls and their partners. The hotel was comfortable and we enjoyed a splendid group dinner in Amiens on the Saturday evening. The noise level in the restaurant was deafening due to the great spirit of camaraderie which prevailed throughout the weekend.
We were privileged once again to be in the capable hands of Andy and Sue Thompson of Eye Witness Tours. The weekend began at Delville Wood and finished at Lutyen’s iconic Thiepval Memorial - visiting most of the major sites in between. These included Newfoundland Park, the Ulster Tower, Serre No 2 - together with some smaller cemeteries of special personal interest. Toppy Wharton (Old Girl and Head’s PA) and her mother, Lady Page, laid a wreath in memory of their uncle/great-uncle, Hugh Mott, at Gommecourt. Many were moved to tears on hearing of the heroism and tragedy which took place at Gommecourt nearly one hundred years ago. Five volunteers gave wonderful readings of war poems at intervals throughout the weekend and a wreath was laid at Thiepval to honour all the men who died and fought in the Great War with a connection to St Catherine’s. Thanks to the painstaking research of Rosemary and Richard Christophers, we are aware of 20 such men amongst the fallen. A remarkable statistic considering St Catherine’s was a school of only around 100 girls at the time.