Speeding through the gorgeous French countryside on a glorious summer day. My SNCF train is certainly more comfortable than most anything Tommy would have experienced in France or Belgium during the war. Had my first sight of the River Somme for this trip – sparkling brilliantly amid green and golden fields. The countryside hereabouts seems so quiet and so empty that it’s hard to conceive of the crush of men and material that swarmed the region almost a century ago. More than ever I’m aware of the great challenge ahead. Attaining any sense of the environment that existed in the battle zone will be exceedingly difficult given the extent of the recovery that’s occurred after almost a century of intensive farming and to a more limited extent housing and industrial development.