A Durham University student has recently completed a 950-mile pilgrimage on foot to the site of the Somme, the First World War’s bloodiest battle. Twenty-two-year-old Jordan Blunsom spent over a month walking up to thirty miles a day on a sponsored trek to aid Walking with the Wounded, a charity for armed forces veterans. In total, Jordan took around 1,900,000 steps on his hike. Jordon also aims to become involved in a campaign run by the Northern Echo newspaper to raise £20,000 to create a permanent memorial to the members of the Durham Light Infantry who perished in World War One.
Jordan planned and coordinated the entire walk himself. When he arrived at the site of the Somme, he took part in the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle.
“Arriving in the region was really humbling,” Jordan said, “I will never forget seeing the Thiepval Memorial for the first time. The clouds were very brooding and I just saw the memorial poking out of the treeline, surrounded by cornfields interspersed with poppies and cornflowers. It was very special and very moving.”
The Thiepval Memorial is a huge structure made from stones and bricks with a forty-five- metre-high central arch. Situated on a ridge above a flat landscape, the monument is inscribed with the names of fallen soldiers.
Jordan began his walk from Durham University’s Palace Green Library, which is currently putting on an exhibition called ‘Somme 1916: From Durham to the Western Front’.
Summing up his experience, Jordan stated, “The walk itself was very strenuous. It was a fantastic journey and one that really broadened my horizons as to the actual human sacrifice of the conflict.”
Jordan said Walking with the Wounded “is a fantastic charity. They help injured veterans and their families with stuff like accommodation and getting them accustomed to society again.”
Jordan, who is studying history, spent some time in the armed forces himself. He said, “I was in the armed forces for four-and-a-half years until October in Southampton, but wasn’t deployed to anywhere like Iraq or Afghanistan.”