Visiting the Somme and Ypres – April 2015
My son and I recently joined a ‘Battlefield Tour’ run by Leger Holidays. We stayed at the Hotel Alize for three nights – in the Belgian town of Mouscron.
We started our tour in the Ypres Salient at Sanctuary Wood and walked along trenches where our soldiers had fought. Craters from various shells remain as do a few bullet-ridden trees, covered in poppies and crosses of Remembrance. We then looked round the battlefield on Hill 60 and Hill 62.
The day included a visit to the Tyne Cot cemetery which held row upon row of beautifully tended graves, some with no name. We visited a small museum where personal mementos and letters were displayed, along with the names of the dead, their ages and their photographs. We were mesmerised and found it hard to tear ourselves away. Tyne Cot is the world’s largest CWGC cemetery with 12,000 burials, A further 35,000 names are engraved on the memorial whose bodies were never found.
We also visited the Langemark German Cemetery which really was sombre and dark and the Brooding Soldier monument built in honour of Canadian soldiers who had encountered the first German gas attack.