Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to Paschendale

Last Friday, and Saturday we took a trip to visit some of the Commonwealth War Graves in France and Belgium. Our travelling companion was John who had never been to visit any graves, so our focus was on those people he is researching.

Initially we visited Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery in France, where John's great uncle Stanley George Bird is buried.

Our next stop was Pheasant Wood near Fromelles in northern France to see the site of the new Commonwealth War Grave cemetery where experts during a major archaeological dig found the remains of 250 World War I soldiers.

We then travelled into Belgium to see Hype Park Corner, and the Berks Cemetery Extension, for the Ploegsteert Memorial. We then drove to Ypres (Ieper) and visited the In Flanders Field museum. In the evening we attended the Menin Gate Last Post, where we witnessed a very poignant ceremony which included an address by the New Zealand High Commissioner followed by a Maori lament during the wreath laying, and a piper from the Black Watch.

On Saturday, we visited Tyne Cot Memorial, and the newly opened visitor's centre. This museum is stark, and minimalistic. However the accompanying voice of a young girl reading the names, and ages of those who gave their lives leaves a very lasting impression.

Finally we visited the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, near Poperinge.

A very interesting trip. We have included all our photographs in an album, and slideshow.