Jan and Ian

The Great War…

Today began two days of travel through the towns and fields where much of the drama and horror of World War One unfolded. From our Australian perspective places like Ypres, The Somme, Amiens, The Salient, Villers Bretoneux, Fromelles and the like, are etched into our history and national identity. They are the places our young army travelled to after Gallipoli, where they fought some of the costliest and fiercest battles of 1914-1918 and where they won, at a terrible price of young lives, some of the most important victories of the war.
But today these places are quiet, pretty farmlands and sleepy villages. In fact, they are pretty much as they would have been before the start of the horror, before the “War to end wars”, the “Great War”.
We drove through the patchwork fields, past rows of white headstones in the war cemeteries and into the towns. In Ypres we listened to the Perth Modern School band play outside the in Flanders Fields Museum and walked with many other Australians around the Menin Gate. M & C listened in wonder as they heard how the last post ceremony takes place every night here and that the gate honours 100000 lost soldiers with no known grave.
Powerful memories.
We spent the night in Amiens, with its extraordinary cathedral and not-so-extraordinary tourist themed menus. As many Australian, English and Canadian flags were flying as French and the accents of the people in the street had a distinct shade of strine. We knew that these same folk, like us, wouldn’t get much sleep tonight… by dawn we would all be on a nearby hillside walking through rows of white headstones.

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