The Albert Ball Memorial Reunion Weekend 3rd to 6th May 2018

Ian Parkinson’s memories of the weekend. There are photos too – click here.

This event, originally thought of by Rich Duisburg of Motor Punk magazine four years ago to remember Albert Ball VC is now firmly on the M3W calendar. The 100 year remembrance of Albert’s death was held in 2017 and that meeting in Annouelin, France was very special. All those in attendance agreed we hold an annual get together to remember him, hence the Reunion title.

So it was that on Thursday 3rd May a large group of Morgan Three Wheelers arrived at The Premier Inn, Ashford for an overnight stay. Enthusiasts came from throughout the UK and had a very enjoyable evening dinner and chat.

On Friday morning we departed in convoy for the short run down the A20 to catch the 10:20 am Shuttle. After booking in we awaited our departure call and it was not long before the large group of trikes had brought lots of onlookers with the inevitable chatting.

The shuttle left on time and a short time later we were driving off and heading out of Calais for St Omer. An hour or so later and we pulled up in St Omer Market Square. A super French lunch was enjoyed by all in a nearby café. Once refreshed we drove in convoy to our hotel La Sapiniere at nearby Wisques. In a superb setting it was time to relax. Some made the trip out to St Omer Airfield for a photo shoot but were disappointed the bar was closed.

An excellent evening dinner was had in the hotel and the party went on into the late hours.

Saturday morning and the group split into two. Group one led by Red Leader Chris Golding blasted off to Le Touquet for the day and by all accounts had a great day.

Group two led by Ian and Maria Parkinson in their 1934 Matchless engined Super Sports were off to visit some famous WW1 sites about 65 miles away. A cross country route gave chance to open up the Mogs on great French roads with hardly another vehicle seen. However about ¾ of the way into the journey the dreaded M3W curse struck. New MTWC member Geoff Robotham had driven all the way from Scotland for the event and had been trouble free. His Euro 4 M3W just spluttered and stopped in the back of beyond. The knowledgeable M3W guys quickly diagnosed fuel pump failure so he arranged recovery back to the hotel.

We all carried on for the last 20 miles and arrived at Avril Williams Tearooms ( yes, in France) ready for a mug of tea and a chip butty as a late lunch. This place is a must visit for a glimpse of WW1 life. A superb café, museum and a team of British staff only too willing to talk to you. See www.avrilwilliams.eu for full details. In the museum we met the most amazing English guy called Colin, he ran a company giving guided tours of the WW1 battlefields. His knowledge was awesome and we were enthralled with the stories he told us. We then set off for the famous Lochnager Crater a few miles away see www.lochnagercrater.org  we had some difficulty finding it by now Lee Cliffe (Dab of Oppo) was in the lead and we just could not find any signs. Then to the rescue came Colin whom we met earlier. He was driving by and took us to the site and proceeded to give us a fantastic guided tour and talk of this incredible historic site. You could not fail to be moved by the story he told.

It was now late in the afternoon as we set off for the return journey back to the hotel which took 1 ½ hours. We drove into the hotel car park to see a beaming Geoff Robotham holding an M3W Fuel pump. You got the old one out I said, yes he said and I have a new one in already ! Amazingly when Geoff was recovered back to the hotel group one was back from Le Touquet. He told them of his troubles and Roger Gates had a new spare fuel pump with him which was quickly fitted. It is good to see the spirit of helping each other out still prevails.

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner which went into the late hours again.

Sunday morning and after a leisurely breakfast we set off as a long convoy for the 1 ½ hour trip to Annouelin to the crash site where Albert died. Only in France could 23 Morgan Three Wheelers keep together. At roundabouts everyone stopped to let us through it was brilliant. At the crash site Mark Henry did the usual honours and laid the wreath which was provided by the Royal British Legion. This was when the second  casualty happened, Steve and Diane from Barnsley had a sudden engine stop in their M3W (cause unknown) and had to be recovered to Yorkshire. We all moved on to a nearby French Restaurant and had an enjoyable open air lunch. Lunch over everyone set off for Calais and the Shuttle back to Blighty. Not so Ian and Maria, they set off South, destination Lake Constance and the German Group Three Wheeler Meeting, the following weekend. But that is another story !

Just a little inside info, next years Albert Ball may be based in Bruges.

Photos from Gerald Lawford: