Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Don't mention the war!

...either of them?

I promised you some pictures of my trip to Belgium and Holland. Whilst in Belgium we visited sites on the Messines Ridge where the Allies tunnelled under the German line and filled the mines with explosives... the explosions could be heard as far away as Ireland. - Give it a Google to read more.

We also visited some of the cemeteries - it was an emotional and humbling experience, compounded by visiting the Menin Gate to place a wreath in memory of the fallen who were never found.

Can you believe nearly 100 years on there is a ceremony every day... I hope there still will be in another 100 years!

The following day we visited the 'In Flanders Fields Museum'. Absolutely amazing and can you believe we actually climbed to the top of the tower - it reminded me of climbing the Duomo in Florence... but not quite as high! Though for someone who is not keen on heights I was proud of myself!

We also visited Tyne Cot cemetery... "Tyne Cot Cemetery is the resting place of 11,954 soldiers of the Commonwealth Forces. This is the largest number of burials contained in any Commonwealth cemetery of either the First or Second World War. It is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world. (http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ypres-salient/cemetery-tyne-cot.htm)"

What is amazing is that bodies are still being found, and identified, to this day and are interned in their rightful places in the cemeteries... three were recently buried at Tyne Cot.

We visited so many places on this trip that I couldn't possibly mention them all... but from Ypres we went on to Eindhoven and began our tour of Operation Market Garden. We were fortunate enough to have 3 subject matter experts on the tour and they were able to give us a wealth of information and insight, did I say what an amazing trip it was? 

We visited many of the bridges targeted in Op market Garden - if you haven't seen it - watch A Bridge Too Far - basically it summarises everything we saw! 

This bridge was my favourite at Grave - it made me think of the Rainbow Bridge Poem... and seemed quite fitting that it should!

Whilst we were there the curator of some of the site came over and offered to open up the Dutch bunker so we could see inside - it was a mini museum in itself... apparently you can tell the Dutch bunkers as they are square. This was built in 1936.

It looked out across the river in the direction the Germans would have come from had they invaded... little did they know then what was to happen a few years down the line!

And finally this is a picture of one of the landing sites for the paratroopers... you can see why it was selected - but it is a huge area to keep secured from the enemy so your troops can land safely!

We also visited a little church in Oosterbeek - http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/oosterbeek_church.htm

We were met by a lovely lady who was able to tell us a great deal about the history... Unfortunately Post War they have discovered a munitions store lined with asbestos and it will cost thousands to clear it - so if you have a few pennies the church would be extremely grateful for them... It is a small village and the fund is only growing slowly!

We saw so very much and learned so much - it is a trip I shall remember for many years and the stories shall continue to make me feel humble every time I recall the sacrifices of so many.

Back soon with some crafty bits!

Paula xx

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Paula xxx