Le Pas-de-Calais Libéré – Northern France

Le Pas-de-Calais Libéré – Northern France

1st Weekend of September

The Le Pas de Calais Libéré is our annual pilgrimage to Northern France to celebrate the Liberation of the Pas du Calais by the British in 1944. The area around Souchez and Béthune is rich in history of both WW1 and WW2. The British involvement in the modern history of the area is significant with both First World War. Vimy Ridge, Loos, Neuve Chapelle, Arras, the Somme and in World War II the retreat in 1940 and Liberation in September 1944.

The weekend normally consists of the following:

Thursday – travel to Béthune via ferry in time to make Souchez in the evening where the main group will camp.
Friday – A free day when groups disperse to explore the many cemetries, war memorials and museums in the area. A few members choose to use the Friday to travel from the UK
Saturday – We form up in convoys and visit several villages across the Artois region. We are normally escorted by the local gendarmerie.
Sunday – A parade with bands through the Souchez past spectators and local dignitaries.
Monday – Return to Blighty usually visiting one of the many museums in the Calais area. You may return Sunday evening if you prefer.

As always, the organizers especially would like unusual and armoured vehicles. There is no problem with bringing armour on this trip as it is an official event. As long as you have suitable tracks you can run your tanks on the road at the head of the convoy on Sunday (and possibly Saturday). There is a problem with metal tracks and vehicles with these will probably spend most of their time on their low-loader. It would be marvellous if those of you with complete rigs such as Quad, Limber & 25pdr, Matador & 3.7”, tank transporter, trailer & tank, etc. could bring them. You will probably not have many chances to run them like this under full police escort. Post WW2 vehicles are not permitted on the Sunday parade but are ok to drive in the Friday and Saturday activities and convoys. Those with Hotchkiss jeeps need not worry – most of the French jeeps masquerading as wartime vehicles are Hotchkisses!!

The campsite is free with a shower block available at the adjacent football club. The site straddles Chemnin Demartinalecange at the junction of Rue Guislain Philippe Morel. A militaria fair will be on the campsite. Also entertainment is being organised at the campsite (a 1940’s dance as well as bar and food provisions). Security is also be provided.

If you prefer not to camp then there are several hotels in the area. Participants are responsible for booking their own accommodation but the following links may be useful:

As the organisers provide free camping and subsidise our ferry fares if you book on the trip you are expected to participate in the event and not use it just as a cheap ticket to France! The fantastic reception that we receive in this region of France is marvellous and the whole trip is a unique experience.

The closing date for entries is the 1st July each year. Deposits are non-refundable. Entry forms can be found in the IMPS newsletter from April onwards..

For your information the VM Artois website is: http://vmartois.forumactif.fr

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Tony Lawrence