Born and raised in Flanders, I was confronted with the stories of the Great War since I was a child. My great grandfather served in the War, and I remember stories my grandmother told me about her mother’s life during the war. Terrible stories, that make you reflect about life, war and happiness when you get older.
In West-Flanders, every scholar is ‘obliged’ to visit the Flanders Fields museum, a museum about the Great War, and the people who lived during the war in Ypres. As for myself, I always thought that Tyne Cot was the most confronting remnant of the war.. Want to know why?
I think the picture speaks for itself. A few km’s away from the city center of Passchendaele, lies the ‘Tyne Cot Cemetary’. A sad souvenir of battles fought right on this spot. There are now over 11.957 people commemorated in this cemetery, of whom 8,369 were never identified .. And this is just a fraction of the lives lost during the Great War in this area.
Walking around on this cemetery is very confronting, but I don’t think thats a bad thing. Future generations see and feel the terrible consequences of war, and maybe, just maybe, it’ll prevent people starting a new one..
Another breathtaking sight in this area, is the Menin Gate in Ypres. On the walls of this gate, the names of 54 896 missing soldiers, NCOs and officers of the British Commonwealth are engraved. The gate was designed by Reginald Blomfield and takes the form of a Roman triumphal arch. Because the Menin Gate proved to be too small, all British missing persons were killed from August 16, 1917 listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
Every evening, Since 1928 (except 1940 and 1944) at the stroke of eight, a group of buglers of the Municipal Fire Brigade play the Last Post, to remember those who fell during the Great War. I’ve witnessed the Last Post five times now, and every time I’m in tears. A must see when you’re in the area..
Let us never forget the men and women who fought for our freedom, who gave their lives to protect ours, and made sure future generations would never have to go through the atrocities of war. Let us remember. We will remember..
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Mj. John McCrea, 1915, Boezinge