|Too early for poppies but lots of tulips everywhere|
This was our first experience of "Flanders Fields"
And it was somehow resonant that we did it on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday, the day the Jesus rode into Jerusalem being greeted as a hero, yet knowing what was to come. His sacrifice weighing heavily on his mind.
And here we were standing in acres of fields with neat orderly rows of head stones, stark white against the well manicured lawns.
Almost every inch of the walls of the cemetary lined with the names of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the name of what they thought was freedom.
Names of soldiers as young as the young men we travel with. Their sacrifice weighing heavily on our minds.
Did they know what was to come?
|a garden of headstones|
Many of the stones guard the resting place of unidentified soldiers. And the walls of the cemetary are engraved with almost 35 000 names of men whose remains have not been found.
|the wall fully engraved with nearly 35000 soldier's names|
What a terrible waste.
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
In Flanders Fields, John MacCrae
|Looking towards the entrance gate|
|German gravestones in Langemark|
We moved on to the only German cemetary in the Ypres Salient area. They had just as many dead. There was a very different feel to the area. Note the difference in maintenance of the field. And yet the loss of these men was equally keen and sad.
|German soldier names engraved in the Langemark memorial|
|Our bedroom in the hostel|
|Our hostel. Note the second floor sky light|
|Menin gate lion|
|Inside Menin Gate|
That night, at Menin Gate, we joined the daily ceremony of respect given to the fallen by the people of Ypres.
No palm fronds here but poppy wreaths laid in honour. A moving Palm Sunday testimony to the men whose lives were sacrificed nearly one hundred years ago.
|Our representatives and the wreath|
|so many names|
The Menin Gate is the British memorial to the nearly 55 000 commonwealth soldiers who died without graves up to 15/8/1917. Soldiers who died after that date are commenorated at Tyne Cot. Built after WW!, it is the site of a daily playing of the last post ever since. The service is attended by hundreds of visitors and locals every day.