Leaving The Holiday Inn Express in Arras on day 5 the team cycled 14 miles South-West on the D919 towards their first stop the Mémorial Irlandais. After a brief stop they cycled a short distance to one of the main Somme battlefield memorials at Thiepval. The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme battlefields bears the names of 72,194 officers and men of the
United Kingdom and South African forces. These men died in the Somme battle sector before 20th March 1918 and have no known grave. Around the memorial lie the graves of thousands of French soldiers, which is why the memorial carries both French and British flags.
Before lunching in Albert, the team stopped at Lochnager Crater, site of an enormous explosion. Lochnager Mine was created by the Royal Engineer tunneling companies and located south of the village of La Boisselle in the Somme. It was packed with 24 tons of Ammonal and detonated at 7:28 am on 1 July 1916, the first day of the battle. At the time, it was the largest explosion ever detonated and the sound of the blast was considered the loudest man-made noise in history up to that point. After lunch the team visited the Newfoundland Memorial in Beaumont-Hamel featuring a bronze statue of a caribou.
This marks the site where the Newfoundland Regiment was all but wiped out in the first twenty minutes of the Battle of the Somme. Of the 780 men who went forward only 110 survived unscathed, of whom only 68 were available for roll call the following day. The next stop was the Celtic cross of the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Memorial on the site of another massive explosion, the Hawthorn Mine which was detonated on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, at 7.20am on 1 July 1916.
The Poppy Ride concluded with the laying of wreaths and a two-minute silence at The Arras Memorial, located in the Faubourg d’Amiens British Cemetery. The memorial commemorates 34,785 soldiers of the forces of the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand, with no known grave, who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918. The surrounding cemetery contains the remains of a further 2,650 Commonwealth soldiers as well as the Arras Flying Services Memorial and the visit provided a fitting conclusion to what was an emotional day for all.
It was a very fitting end to a successful five days. The opportunity for each rider to lay a wreath to pay tribute to those lost at any of the monuments gave chance for each rider to reflect on personal thoughts on the centenary and of the very special places visited. Respects were paid and emotions ran high. An overwhelming feeling of pride was tangible throughout the team as the day drew to a close.