Wednesday, August 26.
Today we head to visit some of the battlefields from WWI. Places such as Villiers Bretenaux, Yrpes, Pachendale, Tyne Cot, The Victoria School and the Mennen Gate. Having visited Villiers Bretenaux last year, I was keen to bring Su back and also witness the Last Post at the Mennen Gate in Yrpes.
It is inconceivable to imagine what those men went through 100 years ago, but seeing the ground over which they fought and the cemeteries full of crosses, gives you some idea of what they went through.
Driving to the area, one is reminded of the poem, In Flanders Fields, as poppies are everywhere. What we see as a symbol of our diggers, the local farmers see as a noxious weed. Regardless, they stir the national pride when you see so many.
On the way to Yrpes, we stopped off in Menin where we had coffee and looked through a couple of churches, one dated 1713, and the other had an all seeing eye on the portico. Inside were Knights Templar crosses everywhere.
Leaving Menin we continued on to Zonnerboke where we looked through the museum on military communication, and the Abbey which hid soldiers during the war. We walked around the memorial gardens in testimony the different nations who fought in Flanders. Looked through the military museum set alongside a beautiful lake where people were fishing, and then walked through the trench complex.
Headed to Pachendale, the site of one of the bloodiest battles involving Australians, to visit the Tyne Cot Cemetry where 12,500 Australian soldiers lie, some Known Unto God. This was totally mind blowing, especially having been to Gallipoli and Verdun earlier.
Leaving here we headed to Yrpes where we found a park in the square and headed towards the Menen Gate to watch The Last Post and Revillie being performed. This has occurred at 8.30pm every night since the signing of the Armistice at the conclusion of WWII. This was very moving and has around 2,000 people in attendance every night.
Tonight there was a guard of honour by Naval Cadets from the UK. Wreaths were lain by relatives whose names are on the walls of the gates. Interesting there is a Neilsen on the wall, so will have to follow that up when we return to Aus.
Following the service we headed back to Myrtle and as there would not be time to drive to Villers Bretenaux tonight we would Aire camp on the motorway. Aire camping is at large servos on the motor ways where you pull in and plug into powe overnight.