Today isn’t our Day 27 on the way to Rome. We’re not making our 24th hike. The discrepancy is that we plan to rest on the seventh day of every week. If we were out on the trail, it would be categorised as an easy 19 km in the Pas-de-Calais. We’d have set out from Wisques after a good breakfast from accommodation unknown. I checked the weather – cloudy but only 9C. Perfect for a hike and another chat. Assuming we’re still talking to one another.
I know little of Wisques. I presumed it had been in several countries over the centuries considering how close it is to modern borders. Guide books mention a couple of abbeys and a gunpowder factory. I’m guessing there’s more history in Wizeke than meets the eye.
Dateline 22 November 1914: ‘The BEF establishes a Machine gun school at Wisques to train new regimental officers and machine gunners both to replace those lost in the fighting to date and to increase the number of men with machine gun skills.’
Our destination today (whatever the year) should be Thérouanne, Terenburg, Terwaan, Tarwanna or Tervanna (whatever the name). It’s easy to find a lot of information about the many named town in English. I wonder where we’ll find a place to stay?
Back in 1513, Thérouanne was besieged during the Battle of the Spurs. France, with German support, had tried to resist the combined forces of England and The Holy Roman Empire. Ten thousand cavalry clashed, many Artois towns were besieged and they say that 7,000 ‘were left upon the field’. There’s a surviving woodcut that records Henry VIII meeting Maximilian I during the Thérouanne siege. I also learned from Encyclopædia Britannica that it was the Romans who put Thérouanne on the map. Having conquered Gaul, they divided the region into civitates. Of course, the administrators in the Roman church adopted the same idea, the centres of each becoming the seats of bishoprics. And so there was reason to lay siege to Thérouanne if you were a Holy Roman Emperor with an English King at your side, especially since it boasted the largest cathedral in France at the time.
Dateline 11 June 1915: ‘the 23rd Division Infantry moved to Bomy and the artillery to Chamblain Chatelain and Therouanne to begin intensive training for the Battles of the Somme.’
I wonder what more we will learn if we ever get to walk the talk. I can’t wait to start if only because I’m not getting any younger.