The battlefield of Cambrai is a fascinating place to explore, as it remains largely unchanged and many features described in accounts from the Great War can be easily identified on the ground.
This is especially true of the countryside near Flesquières, which was the scene of the fateful attack by D and E Battalions of the Tank Corps and the men of 51st (Highland) Division.
This series of videos illustrates a walk across the battlefield following the approximate route taken by Deborah on the morning of November 20, 1917. Locations of videos are shown on the map.
NOTE: If you are reading Deborah and the War of the Tanks, or are intending to do so, please don’t watch the videos yet, as they reveal the outcome of the story. Instead please follow through the Readers’ section of this website, which indicates the appropriate time to view the videos without spoiling the book.
1 – Behind the British lines in Trescault – Deborah’s starting-point
2 – The British forward positions at zero hour
3 – On the German front-line
4 – Approaching the Stollenweg, the heart of the German defences
5 – A halt at the Grand Ravine
6 – At the railway embankment heading for the Flesquières ridge
7 – On the west side of Flesquières
8 – The last stage of the journey through Flesquières
The walk is 5km long and you should allow 1-2 hours depending on stops. Remember it is NOT circular, so at the end you will need to retrace your steps to the start, doubling the distance and time required. If you have access to two cars, one can be parked at the end of the walk in Flesquières so you can drive back to the start in Trescault. Remember to park your car considerately and avoid blocking roads, gates or driveways.
A SIGNPOSTED WALK FROM FLESQUIÈRES
The local tourist board, Nord Tourisme, has prepared a signposted circular walk starting and finishing in Flesquières called ‘Sur la Route des Tanks’ (or ‘In the Tracks of the Tanks’). The walk is 7.5km long and should take 2-2.5 hours.
A downloadable pdf with map and directions (in French only) is available here: http://www.tourisme-nord.fr/offer_reservation/detail/%20SUR%20LA%20ROUTE%20DES%20TANKS%20(7,5%20km)/(id)/a763a187-6e22-4c42-9ac0-640e35c9b2bb,ITINOR059FS0086C,85125
Note this is a different walk to the one shown in the videos above, and only partly follows the route taken by the tanks of D Battalion.
ADVICE FOR WALKERS
Keep to marked paths and follow any marked variations.
Avoid damaging crops and respect the work of local farmers.
Protect flowers, animals and the environment, and do not leave litter.
It is wise to avoid doing the walk during the hunting season – you will need to check locally to find out the dates.
The going is easy on rough tracks, field paths and country roads. However, there is no protection from the weather so take warm, waterproof clothing. Paths can be muddy and slippery so good footwear is essential.
There are no refreshments on the walk so take any food and drinks you need.
Do not touch any unexploded shells, grenades or other suspicious objects you may find.
As on other French battlefields, the use of metal detectors is illegal.