Manning Lighthorseman joins Sea to Somme ride in France


RODNEY O'Regan OAM is easily recognised around the Manning for his light horse re-enactment and education work that has seen him visit schools, service clubs and businesses and represent the Australian Light Horse at different commemoration ceremonies around the area and interstate.

The former NSW Police Force Senior Sergeant Patrol Commander is currently preparing for one of his biggest trips to date, as one of only two Australians to take part in the 'Sea To Somme' ride in France, alongside 20,000 Brits.

With next year's 100th anniversary of the Great War fast approaching, plans are afoot everywhere to commemorate this important event. The Sea to Somme is particularly focusing on commemorating the animals and men who cared and served with each other in World War I.

The trip, running from August 14-24, will follow as closely as possible the general outline of the Western Front, taking in a number of cemeteries and memorials along the way.

The group hopes to camp out in farmers' fields and woods, much as the troops would have done in 1914.

Whilst the front moved back and forth during the four years of the war, the route will remain as close to the main trench systems as modern day buildings and roads will allow.

It will begin in the sea at Nieupoort, Belgium, before proceeding along the northern sectors of the western front, taking in most of the places of interest and operation of the British army, before finishing at the River Somme, near the 58th Division Memorial at Chipilly.

The first battle fought by the British Army against the Germans on the western front in WWI, came about simply because pre-war plans had placed the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in the way of the German advance towards Paris.

The British government declared war late on August 4, 1914 and by August 22 the four infantry divisions and one cavalry division of the BEF had disembarked in France and taken up their positions near the fortress town of Maubeuge.

This was a significant turning point and undoubtedly the official beginning of the war, which is why it holds so much importance for Rodney and all those taking part, who will don British army uniforms during the trip.

Rodney is thrilled to be included in the tour and said he couldn't wait to get over there.

Funds raised during the trip will go to a number of UK based charities, including Blue Cross, Royal British Legion and Horseworld.