Beselare War Memorial

Dying Belgian soldier on the face of Beselare war memorial.

The municipality of Zonnebeke, the whole of which was utterly devastated during the Great War, comprises the five villages of Beselare, Gheluvelt, Passchendaele, Zandvoorde and Zonnebeke itself.  This afternoon, as the sun shines after the rain, we find ourselves passing through Beselare, almost a small town now, three and a half miles due south of Passchendaele, and about a mile and a half north east of Gheluvelt.

St. Martin’s church, destroyed along with everything else, was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style between 1922 & 1925.  And to the right of the church…

…is the town war memorial,…

…the main panel inscribed with the names of forty eight Great War casualties,…

…the four names on the small panel beneath being additions, I think.  To the right of the angel the letters AVV-VVK stand for Alles Voor Vlaanderen – Vlaanderen Voor Kristus.  All For Flanders – Flanders for Christ.

I presume you noticed the damage to the memorial; the soldier’s helmet is missing its rim, the cross behind the AVV-VVK lettering is broken, there’s a large chip up in the top right corner,…

…and the clear imprint of a shell from another World War mutilating the angel’s wing, the heat of the explosion still evident in the ruined stone.  The shell would have come from the west, so most likely a British one, probably 1940 vintage.

One fine spring day, as the Blitzkrieg swept across the low countries and the Allied rearguard valiantly covered the retreat to the Channel ports, you might imagine a group of Wehrmacht soldiers hastily taking cover behind the memorial, and you might imagine that very shell, fired from a British gun over open sights, streaking horizontally across the picture from left to right, and you might also imagine the violence with which it struck the stone of the memorial, turning an angel’s wing into a thousand shards of death.

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4 Responses to Beselare War Memorial

  1. nick kilner says:

    Amazing that it withstood the blast! It would appear the angels wings did, what we would perhaps like to think angels wings do, and protected those beneath. Rather evocative I think, as damage goes.

  2. Magicfingers says:

    Yes, true enough.

    • Nick kilner says:

      I was referring to the dying Belgian btw, I agree entirely about anyone sheltering near it not coming off so well 😉

      • Magicfingers says:

        How funny. I was only thinking of the Germans, as you gathered. But you are right hopefully on both counts. Just mailing you btw.

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