In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

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.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

On my only full day in Brugge, I went on a tour of Flanders Fields. I took a daytrip from Brugges with Quasimodo Tours. I had the most incredible, touching, emotional, educational day. I have SO many pictures to share, so here is to a long post!

I, like most others of my generation, learned all about World War I in school, however, my life was never touched by the war, nor really any war in fact. I had never seen World War I ruins, or heard many stories about it. I knew the basic facts, I knew many lives were lost but I never really got it. After visiting Flanders, I did.

Flanders Fields is not just a field. It is actually a whole region in Belgium, one that was deeply effected by World War I. When the Belgium’s decided not to let the German troops through to France, they invedibly signed themselves, and the British colonies, up for a long battle. The Germans were able to gain many parts of Belgium but they never did take over the main parts. Over the course of the War, millions of lives were lost and I was shocked to know that the War is still a daily part of the lives of the people in this region. Bodies are still found yearly, old weapons, bullets (many that have not gone off) are found daily by farmers, and the most recent trench was found a few years ago. The town of Yvres was completely destroyed by the War and was rebuilt afterwards – in fact, the oldest building in the town is only 85 years old. It was here in this region where many Canadians fought and died, where gas was first used as a weapon and where John McCrae wrote this famous poem.

A memorial dedicated to Canadian troops:

Gear, from a Canadian solider:

A Christmas gift from the Princess for the troops. It is interesting to note that it was here, in Flanders, where the German and British troops had the famous Christmas Truce, in which the exchanged pictures and played soccer.

Ground, in Flanders, that will always be preserved. The damage here (causing the hills) was caused by bombs.

This is one of the main memorials, in Flanders, dedicated to the British Commonwealth.

The town of Yvres:

This memorial is in Yvres, dedicated to the British Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never found. Over 55,000 names appear on this memorial. Amazingly, every night, a ceremony takes place here and will forever into the future.

The most recent trenches were found in 2006. The paths mark where the trenches exist below ground.

John McCrae, the poet who crafted “In Flanders Fields” was actually a doctor who worked on the front lines helping the soldiers. This is where he worked.

Finally, this is the grave of Valentine, a boy from England, who at 14 inlisted in the war. He fought for a few months before getting badly injured. He returned to England for treatment and was then sent back to fight in Flanders Fields. One day to the day he enlisted, he was killed. Valentine was the youngest soldier to die from the British Commonwealth and his grave now stands as a symbol for all the young Belgians.

One of the best days I had in Europe so far. So amazingly touching, and something I will remember always.

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