A Few Days in Flanders, January 2017

So, Back in Blighty already.  I tell you, these trips to Flanders just fly by.

No sooner do we arrive in Lille to warm hugs and welcomes, and the guarantee of good food and beer just a forty minute drive away, than we are back in Lille once more, waving goodbye and promising to be back later in the year.

Tight security at the station – no problem with that.  Anyway, backtracking a couple of days, here’s a few fairly random shots taken over the course of the weekend:

Day One, and this is Oxford Road Cemetery, a short distance east of Ieper (Ypres).  I first visited this cemetery back in 2008, some time before the idea of this website ever occurred to me, which it actually never did, as this whole monstrosity was Baldrick’s suggestion in the first place.  I think he said something along the lines of, “I think I’d better set you up with a website”, and here we are, more than six years later, doing okay, I reckon.  Anyway, I digress.  The point is that the photos taken on my first visit were acceptable, but too small for the details to be read, and circumstances have dictated that it was nine years before I returned.  There’s a Victoria Cross holder here, by the way, one of four we encountered during the trip.

Similarly, I last visited the tiny Wieltje Farm Cemetery nine years ago, a single photograph of which I posted for some reason in 2011.  Things have changed around here since then, as you can see here, if you wish.

Another cemetery that I have visited on more than one occasion (indeed this was the first CWGC cemetery I ever set foot in back in 2005 – see below!), but have never had the time to photograph properly is Hooge Crater Cemetery.  That has now been put well and truly right (this post begins with my interpretation of one of the ‘classic’ views of Hooge).

Today, older, but probably no wiser.  Certainly colder.

We drove up and down the Menin Road a good few time during the weekend, visiting places new (to me) such as R.E. Grave, Railway Wood,…

…and places familiar, such as Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, last seen blanketed in snow,…

…before ending the day at Buttes New British Cemetery, again not my first visit, but my first opportunity to photograph the cemetery in its entirety,…

…and a brief exploration of Polygon Wood as the sun went down.

Day Two, and more glorious weather, this time down in French Flanders, where a return visit to Erquinghem-Lys,…

…and a discussion with Jack Thorpe (centre) and his colleague Robert Poisonnier (I hope I got that right Robert, and if not I apologise) about the Suffolk Cemetery, La Rolanderie Farm issue I posted a few weeks back, leaves me more than hopeful; we shall see what the future brings.  Thank you for your warm welcome and your time, Jack.

We then set off south west, towards Estaires (above), La Gorgue & Laventie,…

…taking in ten more cemeteries on our travels,…

…the furthest west little Euston Post Cemetery,…

…and including the German cemetery at Laventie…

…and the single grave of Major George Malcolm Nixon Harman of the Rifle Brigade, in Laventie Communal Cemetery,…

…before ending the day at Laventie Military Cemetery as the sun went down.

And as ever, there was time on our final day for one more quick trip, this time taking in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, which looked slightly different the last time I visited, and which I have yet to show you in any shape or form here at theBigNote.  For the moment, here’s a glimpse of my first visit:

And that, sadly, was all we had time for.  Eurostar waits for no man (and woman).

Up on the Bellewaarde Ridge, the silent pickets, still proving useful, ironically for the same purpose as they were made for, but now for more peaceful reasons, will still be here next time, I have no doubt.

And it was all very beautiful, and it was all very cold, and it was all very peaceful, visiting the men who fought and died.  And it all went by far too fast.  Which is where we started.

Thanks, as always, always, always, Balders my friend, and of course Mrs. B too!  Missing you both already!

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8 Responses to A Few Days in Flanders, January 2017

  1. Steven Hearnden says:

    somewhat digressing, but your reference to the VC reminded me to tell you that my Village Churchyard, Tunstall, Kent has the grave of Donald Dean V.C. who was awarded his honour for action in the Great War. A book about him can be purchased from Amazon, which is very interesting.
    Sorry to ‘highjack’ this post, MF! 🙂

    • Magicfingers says:

      Post hijacking is a perfectly acceptable pastime on this site Steven, no problem with that. Of course the next question, bearing in mind that I shall never get the chance to visit all the V.C. holders buried in this country, is how are your photography skills (see where I’m going with this one?)?

  2. Baldrick says:

    It’s been a mutual pleasure, as per usual. Also, as per usual following your departure, the weather has decided to take a dark grey and misty turn.

    PS: what’s with the URL of this post? X much?

  3. Steven Hearnden says:

    Magicfingers,

    I will see what I can do. Watch this space. 🙂

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