The city of Ypres and the surrounding countryside in the Belgian province of Flanders occupied a strategic position during World War I. And because it lay in the path of Germany’s planned sweep across neutral Belgium and into France, this area endured the most horrific fighting during the war. As you will soon discover, those who live here have not forgotten the enormous sacrifice of so many British Commonwealth troops (from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and India) during the Great War. Please pay your respects, keeping in mind that there were victims on both sides.
Special Note: The countryside is still a mine field with uncountable hidden hazards. Two construction workers were killed the very next day after my visit. (See Reuters Article)
Ypres was totally levelled in WWI.
… but was rebuilt with reparations from Germany. It is now a “city of peace”.
Tyne Cot Cemetery…
The final resting place…
… for a fraction of over the one-million British Commonwealth troops killed.
Comrades and mates killed on the same day.
An unknown soldier and a Jewish soldier.
The number of unidentified fallen is absolutely staggering.
Two thousand Canadians were killed by the first poison gas attacks.
The unearthing of unexploded ordnance is still a common occurrence.
Farmers routinely leave their discoveries by the signposts to be picked up for eventual dismantlement.
Holding a hundred year old unexploded hand grenade is quite the experience.
Langemark German Cemetery is the final resting place of over forty-four thousand German soldiers.
Three thousand were young German students, sent untrained into battle.
I made it a point to pay my respects at the American memorial.
Hill 60, the site of audacious and dangerous tunneling operations
Essex Farm Cemetery: Aid Station Bunker
More comrades and friends killed
The final resting place of Valentine Strudwick, one of the youngest soldiers killed.
The famous poem was penned here.
8 pm every day, rain or shine, those who fought and died…
are honored with a solemn ceremony, where the buglers play the “Last Post“.