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  • Day9

    Day Eight

    July 21, 2016 in Belgium ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    This morning I got to visit the beautiful town of Brugge in Belgium. This town has a medievil feel with cobblestone streets, canals and ancient buildings. Some of these buildings were built as far back as the 13th century. Brugge was lucky enough to have no damage during the WW1, this was due to the Germans taking over the town early in their invasion of Belgium and the front line was established closer to Ypres.

    Our next stop was the New Zealand Memorial on Messine Ridge. There is one main difference between an Australian cemetery and a New Zealand memorial. Australia repatriated their war dead and created war cemeteries under the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). New Zealand soldiers buried their fallen where they were killed. So they built memorials and placed the names of these soldiers on the memorial.

    Not far from the New Zealand memorial, only a short walk though a paddock with Belgium Blue cattle we found our way to the Irish Peace Park. The memorial to the Irish soldiers that were lost on Messine Ridge was a large bluestone pillar tower. Each county of Ireland that sent men to the Western Front is named here. Along one side of the park are some bluestone tiles that have the thoughts of irish soldiers from their personal diaries. These are written as poems and they are very honest and depict a gloomy state that they found themselves in.

    Lastly today we visited Tine Cot Cemetery. This is the largest cemetery on the Ypres Salient. It has 12,500 headstones for the fallen from Britain, Australia, Canada and even some from Germany. New Zealand has a memorial wall here also. Most of the grave stones here are for Unknown soldiers. As you enter the cemetery you can't help notice the enormous wall. On this wall are the names of dead soldiers that they could not fit onto the Menin Gate. The enormity of this place really puts this war in perspective. The place is beautiful but disturbing at the same time. You are instantly overwhelmed with how many men were killed in just this part of the war. This is the first time on this trip that my heart and soul has been touched by what I've seen and the stories I've heard.
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