We agreed that we would stop at the appropriate time for the 2 minute silence and fortunately found it convenient to do so in a small town in the Alsace where we watched the formal and respectful ceremony that involved lighting a flame beside the town war memorial, the laying of wreaths and much singing of the national anthem by a choir of school children. It was very moving and for some reason my thoughts turned to our very different journey home last year when the yellow jacket protesters blocked our route and went on over many weeks to cause disruption and riot in Paris defacing buildings, damaging property and looting shops in their own capital city. Today it seems there is much to complain about in such a hostile way, I wonder how it felt to be a 15 year old boy leaving the UK to go off to die in battle in a foreign country.
Before we checked into our hotel later that day we took a detour to Arras, the site of a national war memorial designed by Edwin Lutyens that has etched into its stones the names of nearly 35,000 UK and commonwealth soldiers who were declared missing as well as 2670 graves in the beautifully maintained cemetery beside the memorial.
As well as the official wreaths from the town mayor, the war graves commission and the like, many ordinary people from all over the world had been to pay their respects. Family of the fallen, generations who never knew the soldiers but knew of them, left poppies and flowers and notes of thanks. I was touched to see someone had left a poppy for both their grandfather and the grandfather's brother, they had died together. I'm glad we too found the time to pay our respects.