Day 52 - In The TrenchesSeptember 24, 2020 in France ⋅ 🌧 13 °C
We slept like logs & struggled to wake up for 8.00am. At 9.00 we went upstairs to the kitchen for breakfast which was superb. The owner even gave us Ferrero Rocher with our coffee.
Around 10.00am we took a fast paced walk around Ypres to take in the sights in daylight. We went to Menin Gate, then walked along the top of the city walls, which was dotted with numerous nonsense sculptures. Art apparently! We continued to Lille Gate & the Ramparts Cemetery, before rushing back to the car.
Next on the itinerary was the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 just 5 miles away. It is a fantastic museum & for your €10.50 entrance fee you get an audio phone. We did not see another soul in the museum. We followed the arrows through the museum looking & listening to the exhibits relating to battles in the region during the World War 1. The museum then takes you down into an accurate mock up of the bunkers the soldiers lived in & through actual trenches. Our tour ended with us setting off alarms for not handing in our audio phones at the right place, then a walk through a memorial garden designed as seven poppies. It also started to rain which seemed appropriate.
We drove on to Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces of which 8,362 are unknown casualties. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world. When the rain subsided, we walked into the visitor centre, where an old boy had been let loose with an iPad to conduct a visitors survey. He couldn’t work it & I ended up having to complete the questionnaire for him. It was 1.30pm & he told us we were the first visitors of the day, which was strange because quite a few visitors arrived while we were still talking to him. The rain stopped & the sun came out. We meandered around the cemetery for 20 minutes or so.
After returning to the car we drove another 5 miles to Langemark German Military Cemetery. More than 44,000 soldiers are buried in the cemetery, which includes a mass grave called the Comrades’ Grave. The Comrades' Grave contains 24,917 German servicemen, including the Air Ace, Werner Voss. Between the oak trees, next to this mass grave, are another 10,143 soldiers (including 2 British soldiers killed in 1918). The 3,000 school students who were killed during the First Battle of Ypres are buried in a third part of the cemetery. It was a simple cemetery, but no less moving. It is also the scene of the first gas attacks by the German army in the western front.
It was now time to start heading home, but not before heading to Dunkirk to complete the war theme of the day. On route, Jackie had contact with ‘Peter’ at Hotel Adlerschanze in Schönwald & sent him money so he could post my t-shirt back to me. Dunkirk was pretty disappointing, it reminded me of Portsmouth.
Afterwards we had just enough time to pop into a supermarket to pick up some essentials to get us through the next few days. We then went into The Calais Wine Superstore where we purchased a random selection of 21 bottles of French wines at least 50% cheaper than in the UK to also get us through the next few days!!
We drove to the tunnel & passed through without any hitch. The UK Border Force didn’t even look at our Passenger Locator Forms, but just asked if we had completed them. That was it & a couple of hours later we were home & into self-isolation.
Total trip mileage = 4,297 miles.
Song of the Day - 1917 by Thomas Newman.
Bonus Song : Isolation by Joy Division.Read more