Flanders Fields Strikes Back

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Not too pleasant out there today.  So we decide that a trip to Kortrijk (Courtrai), and the Kortrijk 1302 museum, might be in order.

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As we leave Wervik, it’s worth reminding you that this whole area was under German control pretty much throughout the Great War.  We are about a twenty minute drive south east of Ieper (Ypres) here, and our destination today takes us about the same distance further west.  The museum has exhibitions about life under German military occupation during the war, the exploits of the airmen who flew these skies during those years, including von Richtofen and the British air raids on the town, and the final offensive and liberation in 1918.  All sounds good to me.

And of course we can all go, even Baldrick Jnr.

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So this was the landscape that the British and Belgians fought over as they swept the Germans aside during the last months of the war.  It sounds so straightforward.  Exact casualty figures for the last 100 days are still open to debate, but British casualties were in the region of 300,000 between August and November.  The Germans, along the whole front from the coast to the Swiss border, lost three quarters of a million men during that time.  Think about it.  750,000 young men who were within a couple of months, a few weeks, a handful of days, of a future.

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Even from the main road, there’s always something to see if you keep your eyes peeled.

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Across the River Leie (or Lys*, as it is called in French, and as it was marked on maps during the Great War)…

*You will find our adventures along the Lys from a few years back here.

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…and into Kortrijk…

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…where we spent a fruitless forty minutes while Mieke (she’s the sat-nav, by the way) tried to find the museum for us.  She failed.  However I did spot this rather splendid monument commemorating the Flemish victory over Philip IV of France at the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302 instead.

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I suspect he’s French, don’t you?

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So we headed for home and cake.

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Past this very nice windmill…

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…along these very wet roads…

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…under this very nice bridge…

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…and past the village of Geluwe…

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…and its distinctive church.  It was just down the road from the church, on 14th October 1914, just a few days prior to the start of the First Battle of Ypres, that Corporal William Leggett, of the 1st Life Guards, became the first Australian known to be killed in Flanders when he was shot from his horse in a skirmish with the Germans.

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And then past these very nice bunkers once again.  German, presumably, as this whole area, as I said earlier, was in German hands pretty much throughout the war.  I wonder whether they are actually Second World War vintage?  To help defend the river.  It’s possible.

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And finally home.  Which just goes to prove that not everything goes to plan on these adventures of ours.  And there’s always tomorrow.  Plenty of time before the train leaves.

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