Ypres

Well now, where did I leave off? Oh yes! Bedford House Cemetery. I did manage to make my own pilgrimage to the cemetery. It was in May, 2016, and the weather was beautiful. My wife, Beth, accompanied me. We flew to Luxembourg, to stay with our friends, the Defoa Clan. Karen (of the previous post) offered to drive us to Belgium, and ultimately to Ypres (now called Ieper). We arrived in the beautiful medieval  city in time for lunch on a gorgeous spring day. After lunch, we booked into our B&B and then headed out on the Menin Rd., through the Menin Gate towards the tiny hamlet of Hooge. At Hooge there is a road that right turns toward the south. The road is called Canadalaan. Less than a kilometre…

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Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

down this road is Sanctuary Wood and the museum. Beside the museum is Sanctuary Wood Cemetery. Just a little beyond the museum is the Canadian Memorial for the Battle of Mount Sorrel.

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Battle site of Sanctuary Wood – note the craters and the memorials.
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A reconstructed trench.
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Shell holes.
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Tree stumps that survived the War. Bullet holes and crosses!
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The view toward the Messine Ridge, from the Mount Sorrel Memorial.

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Using the Trench Maps that I have seen and Google Earth, it is possible to ascertain that Pte Farquhar McLennan lost his life on June 13, 1916, only a few metres from the the Sanctuary Wood Museum and the trenches.

Once we had paid our respects at this sacred place, we left for Bedford House Cemetery, where Pte. Farquhar McLennan rests.097

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The Cross of Sacrifice at Bedford House.

This cemetery, like all of the other Great War cemeteries are tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They are all in splendid display and it is impossible to enter one of these sites without your eyes tearing and your heart hurting. After we walked past the Cross of Sacrifice, we could see the area where Farquhar was buried.

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Beth and I at the Cross of Sacrifice

 

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Farquhar’s Headstone. Beside is the headstone of Pte. Watson, 60th Battalion CEF.

 

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Karen and Beth, Bedford House Cemetery.

 

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The City of Ypers at sunset.
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Ypres during the Great War, same view as above.  Heavily shelled by the Germans.
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A “Jack Johnson”. 15 inch artillery shell in the Cathedral of St. Martin.
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Cloth Hall, 1916. One wall propped up.

Every evening, since 1929, the City of Ypres (Ieper) holds a ceremony at the Menin Gate to honour the dead. The ceremony starts at 8:00 PM with a procession to the Gate from Cloth Hall. Hundreds of people are there every night to witness the event. Below is a video of the ceremony.

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Cloth Hall, May, 2016.

Every evening at 8:00 there is a ceremony of remembrance at the Menin Gate. Hundreds of people attend each night. This has been an ongoing event since 1929 with a disruption during WW2. Below is a video of the procession which begins at Cloth Hall.

 

Menin Gate
Jake Defoa in front of the Menin Gate.

There are about 55,000 names of missing allied soldiers listed on the gate. All names are from the area we call Flander’s Fields, also known as the Ypres Salient, just east of Ypres.

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Our last night in Ypres and a chance to unwind.
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The next day, a trip to Passendaele.
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