Juan Les Pins 14th July 2014

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band s  entry on stage last night was triumphantly announced by  Juan Les Pins’  Bastille Day  firework display but the real fireworks were on stage.

For fifty years now the legendary temple of jazz, Preservation Hall , situated in the heart of New Orléans ‘ French Quarter ,has been keeping jazz alive and kicking and last night was no exception.

As well as being the best jazz musicians out there, their funny and lively stage presence has made it, I am sure, the most memorable performance of this year s festival.


In July, 1923, my two great uncles set sail for France. They took a photo of the white cliffs of Dover as they sailed away; somehow they arrived in Albert where they more than likely checked into the Basilica hotel with its view of the Basilica opposite, and its legendary Golden Madonna.

Probably the next day they travelled out to Mametz woods in an attempt to locate the last place that their brother had been seen, for he had fallen at 3.23 on the morning of July 14th,1916 -having only had time to shout “charge” to his men before a German bullet shot him through the head and as he was the bombing officer that morning,  carrying 20 odd hand grenades –  he may have taken a few of his men and his batman with him. No body was ever found for Archibald, maybe he is one of the 8 or so Leicestershire 8th buried in the Flatiron cemetery that is situated opposite the battlefield now, however, in 1923 that cemetary was not there and the family photos bear witness to two brothers walking around a cornfield, heads down, carrying sunflowers and wondering where to place them.

They were not the only ones,from as early as 1918 British tourists flocked to the Somme to visit the battlefields in an attempt to capture something of what their loved ones must have experienced, to see for themselves where their loved ones had fallen. Veterans from the war returned to aid the clearing of the fields and the government organised trips to the Somme, with record numbers in the 20 s because this had been a civilian s war and ordinary people needed  places to grieve and mourn.

Michelin was among the first to publish and organise tour guides in the 1920 s.bazentinthomasbowell1923

Some say that with time the emotional involvment with such places of pilgrimage change into  something different, a more ordinary form of tourism even, but I cannot see this ever happening in the WW1 battlefields – no one can come away unmoved by them nor should they.

Only last week I came away from the very same field pictured here, 98 years after Archie fell and 93 years after his brothers’ visit and I can assure you I was moved. This is how it will be for generations to come for the beautifully kept cemeteries and monuments ensure that NO SOLDIER will ever be forgotten, nor lost, ever again.


1923, looking for a fallen relative near Bazentin Le Petit









About Horizons South

Freelance journalist specializing in feature magazine articles . I write about travel but also history and antiques plus feature articles on social interest and current affairs You can find me - the freelance writers place on the web. London School of Journalism University of Warwick UER sophia antipolis Nice Contact me :
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  1. jazztraveler says:

    Thanks for sharing! I need to find a way to come over to New Orleans once to catch these guys.


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