The Somme Battlefields-Flanders Fields
Trip Start Aug 20, 2011
17Trip End Sep 27, 2011
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What I did
Visited WW1 Military Cemeteries
Soon we began to drive through the battlefields of the Somme and we passed many small military cemeteries before reaching the Australian Memorial Cemetery at Villers Bretonneux. Here on the 25th of April 1918, the Australians halted the German Army and on Anzac Day every year a commemoration ceremony is held. This place is proof of the strength of the links and mutual recognition between Australia and France.
What a beautiful but sad place, so many lives lost for what? Row after row of Australian soldiers gleaming white headstones along with many more from Commonwealth countries stood proudly among the immaculately manicured lawns and gardens. The main memorial at the top of the hill towered silently over this silent reminder of the madness of war. We walked up row after row looking at the ages of these young men who never got a chance to live their lives and paused at the 'Known only to God’ headstones wondering who they were and who they left behind. From the top of the monument tower you could see the vast fields and valleys where many of the bloody battles took place, and as we scanned the thousands of names on the memorial wall we gave thanks for our freedom.
We also visited the Borre British War Cemetery near Hazebrouck where we were fulfilling a promise to a good friend to find his Great Uncle’s grave
The cemetery grew up around a German bunker captured in October 1917 and almost 12,000 soldiers are buried here all killed in the surrounding battlefields. The wall at the back commemorates a further 40,000 missing soldiers who died after August 1917. All the headstones are made of white Portland stone and the central Cross of Sacrifice was constructed above the original bunker. We spent some time here and again it made a huge impression on us both thinking about what these soldiers had done for our country.