Early morning sunshine breaks through the trees in Poperinge Communal Cemetery, 22nd October 2019.
It’s been a quiet few months around here, as you’ve doubtless noticed; after nine years of running this site I needed a breather, and the fact that my arranged Flanders trip back in July coincided with ‘The Day Belgium Melted’, and I was therefore unable to travel, hardly helped.
Fast forward to now, and much of this week has seen yours truly on train and ‘à pied’ for the most part, Baldrick only available on Day One – he’s a working lad, after all.
So, with upwards of 42 kilometres in my sore feet, here’s a few of the 2,500 photographs I appear to have returned home with.
Beginning with the road shots.
And there were many roads, let me tell you. Big roads,…
…and occasionally even bigger roads, here with attached railway line,…
…and there were smaller roads,…
…and roads smaller than the smaller roads,…
…and more big roads,…
…and villages, that the roads passed through,…
…and sometimes towns,…
…and suburban roads,…
…and side streets,…
…leading back out into the countryside, and more small roads.
“Just around the next corner”,…
…although, like the mountaineer’s false summit, it rarely is.
The road, as somebody once wrote, really does seem to go on forever.
Now, you didn’t think I’d just show you road shots, did you? Of course not. Here’s some other stuff, a taster for the future.
Top to bottom: Neuve-Chapelle British Cemetery, Neuve-Chapelle Memorial & Neuve-Chapelle Portuguese Military Cemetery, 1914 burials at Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery, A Dark Place, Wervicq-Sud German Military Cemetery, and, above, one of the most famous graves of all.
Ah Poperinge…. the old road through Brandhoek perhaps? The route the soldiers followed. I have missed your posts but everyone entitled to a rest. I hope you made it to Talbot House
Hello Morag. The road the soldiers followed indeed. I was so aware of that, and then you mention it………..give me a minute.
Three days alone on the road, no buses, just train to start point and from end point. Quite a different experience from the norm, plenty of thinking time, plenty of cemetery time. Yes, at last I have visited Talbot House – spent a good couple of hours looking round, drinking tea, and met a couple of very nice (and very interesting) people whilst there. I was also particularly taken by the The Pilgrim’s Way exhibition in the building in the garden. Anyway, all, and much more, will be revealed in due course.
Hi I have wondering why I had any mail I have been telling other people I meet at the American cemetery Cambridge I was lucky to be there and meet a family who where Skyping a 80 something lady who had never seen her fathers grave as he died when she was just 2 . I tell u this as I was telling them all about your site so always passing on details so hope u can tell how many people appreciate everything u do .
Hello Val. How nice of you to boost my spirits, if they need boosting, by such wonderful words. Thank you!!!
Some superb photographs, but that first one is something else. A truly remarkable moment of real photographic genius.
Nice to have you back my friend, very much looking forward to seeing what you’ve been up to.
Cheers mate. Baldrick’s favourite, that first one – although he was slaving away over a hot desk at the time. Brilliant trip – just what was required.
The chapel at the top of ‘Toc H’ is extremely atmospheric.
Indeed. Coming soon.
I had the amazing privilege of sharing Communion led by Ken Prideaux Bruin who has a long standing associate with TH I. The Upper Room. The Communion silver belonged to Tibby Claydon ……
A privilege indeed.
Missed you bro’, welcome back, totally rested and recuperated I hope…
Life hasn’t been the same without thebignote!
First post full of intrigue, as to be expected. I remember you saying some time ago you hadn’t been to Poperinge. I have been there but am hanging out for more of the Magicfingers touch…
Hey Daisy. Good to hear from ya. How’s it going in hotter climes? I had a brilliant, mainly solo, trip, and the fires are refueled. Actually, as well as writing talks (need to get some money coming in next year), I have been working on a somewhat different project these past few months, and a new, non-military website that which will be unleashed on the web in the coming months. And as many of us doubtless have other interests in our lives, some of you might find it intriguing, and others will find the whole thing a crushing bore. Ha!
Comments on Pop below (see Nigel’s comments).
Among the soldiers buried at Neuve-Chapelle British Cemetery my on-line friend James Morley has identified Private Bradley . James has recently added a sort by cemetery option, to his website making it easier to identify a soldier. https://astreetnearyou.org/person/598117/Private–Bradley
There is a link to further details about George Bradley provided by a volunteer contributor to https://livesofthefirstworldwar.iwm.org.uk/lifestory/459849 .
Thank you Liz. I shall be turning my attention to Neuve-Chapelle in due course.
Hi Magicfingers, So glad you visited Toc H, we stayed 4 nights August 2018 – wonderful people, fascinating museum and a great privilege. Did you visit Lijssenthoek? My great uncle Lt.G.H.Frischling the ‘Shiny Twelfth’ Bermondsey Btn., East Surrey Regiment.
. . . is buried there. (last bit missed off for some reason!).
Hm. Strange internet foibles. Anyway, I actually started two of my solo days from Pop station (at some godforsaken time in the morning – I don’t often do mornings if I can help it, but this was worth the 6.40 start each day) which meant I had two long days to cover, on day one, the town sights and sites, and the three cemeteries (not Lijssenthoek – I will ‘do’ Abeele & Lijssenthoek together and maybe allow a whole day for the two), and on day two, head east along the old Ieper road and see where my legs gave out – no buses, the soldiers didn’t have them, not on this route. No rush, plenty of time at each place, and I guess I spent two hours plus at Talbot House – I do tend to meet people wherever I go, which probably comes of a trait that all good comedians (anyone who enjoys talking in front of people, I suppose), for example, have; the need to talk to strangers. And often, as on this occasion at Talbot House, this proves very rewarding (and whilst in Pop Communal Cemetery I started a chat with a bloke employed cleaning ancient gravestones who then took me personally to each war grave scattered about the place). But having failed to go near Pop in, what is it, seventeen previous trips, I am very glad I now understand why you, Daisy and others have urged me to go. The place was almost empty that early in the morning when I arrived, and I really liked the ambience……….I shall shut up before I begin waxing too lyrical, but I did like the whole place.
And of course we have family buried in the communal cemetery.
Walter Sutherland fought with CEF. Met hisxwife in estaminet opposite what is now Lijssenthoek visitor centre married her and serttled in Poperinge
His son George still alive in his late 90s lives in town. His first wife Clara is buried there. She died complications of childbirth late 1940s
Had I known, I would have paid my respects. Of course. But what a wonderful place the communal cemetery is on a beautiful October morning. There will be a post on it.
A pleasure to meet you at Toc H.
Useful meeting with Jan Vancoillie, who I have commissioned to write on the German fatal casualties in the Salient area; there were hundreds of German cemeteries at the time of the Armistice and now there are, in effect, only four.
Looking forward to hearing some more about Louvencourt, as discuussed in the garden at TH.
Likewise Nigel. I have to say that a book on the German cemeteries in Belgium is most necessary. Interestingly, or perhaps not, I am currently writing a tour of Wervicq-Sud German Cemetery for a future post – very nearly in Belgium, and there is a ‘tour’ of Langemark German Cemetery that I wrote last year here: https://thebignote.com/2018/06/17/a-tour-of-langemark-part-five-langemark-german-war-cemetery/
Also this might be of interest:
The other German cemeteries on this website are across the border (see Categories to right). I will tell you more about Louvencourt in due course – although I really need your permission to email you (I have your address).
And the cemetery with the mass grave I mentioned:
Be warned, it’s a long read.
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Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.