For many years I’ve been interested in reading about the two World Wars so I was happy, for want of a better word, that the two last days of our vacation in Belgium was spent in the town Ypres in the north-western corner of the country.
Anyone that knows anything about the First World War knows that it was at Ypres that the stalemate in the trenches between the Allied Forces and Germany was at its worst. Little ground was conquered and for almost four years the troops sat in those trenches with bombs raining down on them, bullets flying over their heads and all this in mostly terrible weather conditions. When the war was over more than half a million men had fallen in that region alone. It is an unbelievable number to digest but when visiting the area it kind of sinks in because the region close to Ypres has the daily grim reminder that is more than 170 military cemeteries from those years. They range from the smallest ones with less than a hundred graves to the biggest one, Langemark, with close to 25.000 dead.
Below is a couple of pictures from Bedford House Cemetery which opened in 1914. A staggering fact is that so many died in that area that the last enclosure in the cemetery was begun in 1932 and graves were added until 1939, some 21 years after the first World War actually ended! There is so much to write about all this but a couple of pictures from Bedford House Cemetery with 5144 English soldiers and an additional 3011 unknown soldiers says perhaps more than any words could express.
Be sure to press the pictures to see them in their real sizes.
The shadow in the foreground is that of the “Cross Of Sacrifice”. Furthest away, in the middle, is the “Stone of remembrance”. Both common features of the English cemeteries.
Some random graves.
Private H. Burke.