Riez Bailleul revisited

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I remember the difficulty I had experienced when trying to research Riez Bailleul. Douglas had misspelled the name which made it difficult to find at first. Little did I think at the time that a few short months later, I would actually be at Riez Bailleul. Whilst outside the building taking one or two pictures, an indignant sounding lady pulled up in a car and asked us what we were doing? Our inquisitor proved to be the owner of the historic farmhouse. Luckily she also spoke good English so after a few polite words of explanation her mood lifted and we were invited into her house to meet the family. Madame and Monsieur Walle have made a nice job of the interior of the house whilst totally retaining the character of the exterior. M. Walle, a tax inspector, has made the job of restoration a structured one, completing the job in stages to make a lovely family home as and when the finances allow. They explained how they have been hampered with some historical finds in the grounds, such as an abandoned British ammunition store for which they had to call in the bomb disposal squad from Arras. This was a small part of the enormous amount of ordnance, at least 70 tonnes, that is still discovered annually by farmers and landowners along the whole of the Western Front.  Mdme Walle then produced from their display over the fireplace a thankfully disabled British shell and a mud covered shell fuse. We were then able to show them a picture of a sectioned live shrapnel shell that we had previously published on the blog which proved what it was.

Riez Bailleul October 1917

Riez Bailleul October 1917

Riez Bailleul now

Riez Bailleul now

Liz with current owners of Riez Bailleul, M. & Mdme. Walle in the modern open plan farmhouse, with a find from the garden, a British shrapnel shell.

Liz with current owners of Riez Bailleul, M. & Mdme. Walle in the modern open plan farmhouse.

Mdme. Walle with a find from the garden, a British shrapnel shell.

Mdme. Walle with a find from the garden, a British shrapnel shell.

shell

Part of the extensive trench tramway system

Part of the extensive trench tramway system

The rear of the farm yard is best described as a work in progress. M. Walle told me how they have found many pieces of discarded rails that were once part of the extensive tramway systems used to convey ammunition and supplies to the artillery gun emplacements. Laying on the ground were examples of narrow gauge railways as well as the heavier rails of standard gauge lines. Local people have been using them for lintels or RSJs in building works, examples could be seen in the farmyard.

An old rail from a trench railway can clearly be seen supporting the brickwork.

An old rail from a trench railway can clearly be seen supporting the brickwork.

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