WW1

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gpa-gone-west
 
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WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Sat May 28, 2016 1:17 pm

Just came back from a weeks holiday in Belgium & France with my brother, where we toured WW1 battlefields. We visited:-

Ypres
The Somme
Arras

It was a fascinating week, fun, interesting, and utterly staggering on occasions. I could wax on lyrically about this, or that, or the other. But on Thursday I experienced something that words cannot possibly describe. I shall simply let the following photos speak the words I cant find.

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Re: WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Sat May 28, 2016 1:24 pm

That is the ring of remembrance at Notre Dame de Lorette. It contains almost 580,000 names, all alphabetically. No ranks, no nations, nothing. It is a list of the dead from all nations. But it’s a list for only the Nord & Pas de Calais areas. The sheer scale of it is immense. You can read all you like about 580,000 as a number. But until you stand there and see it with your own eyes, you cant possibly understand.

I have a much greater understanding about WW1 than I did before. But still, I have only scratched the surface. Seeing the actual ground, standing where they did was an incredible experience. If you haven’t done this yet, but have always wanted too, I would highly recommend it.
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Re: WW1

Postby Mantis » Sat May 28, 2016 1:50 pm

It is a pretty striking thing when you go out there and see the monuments and old trenches where so many people died. I did a 4 day trip around France and Belgium with my school years ago and it really was a sombre and eye opening experience. We saw all the most notorious sights; but the most striking was probably seeing the Thiepval Memorial to the missing soldiers from the Somme. 70,000+ names enscribed on it whose bodies they never recovered, just for British and South African soldiers from the Somme alone. It gives you a lot of perspective on just how atrocious war is.

Lochnagar Mine Crater was pretty mind blowing too.

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Re: WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Sat May 28, 2016 3:17 pm

Mantis wrote:Lochnagar Mine Crater was pretty mind blowing too.


yes it was, totally mind blowing.

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The fact there is another 4 still out there that havent exploded yet is quite scary. One went up in 1955, blowing up a cow in the process when it was struck by lightning.

But, BUT, there is a house built on top of one of the other 4 unexploded mines. How the fuck did he get house insurance. :shock:
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Re: WW1

Postby Snowy » Sat May 28, 2016 4:10 pm

It is on my to-do list. My paternal grandfather fought at the Somme, and was a casualty although he survived it. A shell went off behind him and peppered his back and legs with shrapnel, a lot of which they never took out of him.

I only found this out recently, I knew he had been injured in the war but not that it was the Somme. He never spoke about it, either to my dad or to me.

When he died, and was cremated, several foreign objects were found following the cremation - the pieces of WW1 shrapnel that he had finally given up.
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Re: WW1

Postby Raid » Sat May 28, 2016 6:54 pm

We did this as a school trip in secondary school; we saw the crater posted above and we went to Tyne Cot Cemetary, which to my 15 year old self was staggeringly huge:
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Also on the trip was Douaumont Ossuary, the main building of which contains enormous piles of human bones:
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My great grandfather died at Passchendaele, although sadly I know nothing about him.

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Re: WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Sat May 28, 2016 7:27 pm

Tyne Cot was the very first site we visited. You dont get a full appreciation of the shear size of the place from the ground. Its the largest British & Commonwealth war cemetery in the world.

One fact that surprised me. There are more Australian and New Zealand soldiers buried at Tyne Cot than Gallipoli.
Last edited by gpa-gone-west on Sat May 28, 2016 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Sat May 28, 2016 7:36 pm

One of the most surprising things about last week, was how close the two lines were on occasions. You have this idea that there was always a huge swathe of no-mans land between the two sides. But in reality, you find that in places, it was only 20 yards.
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Re: WW1

Postby Stormbringer » Sat May 28, 2016 8:15 pm

Also lost a great-grandfather to WW1, sometime in 1918 but I don't know which battle it was.

The one striking thing about him dying in that war was that by the time the war started he had already emigrated from England to Australia. He went BACK to England (and moved his family back too) just so he could serve his King and Country and fight in the war! How many people would do that nowadays?
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Re: WW1

Postby Mantis » Sat May 28, 2016 8:25 pm

gpa-gone-west wrote:One of the most surprising things about last week, was how close the two lines were on occasions. You have this idea that there was always a huge swathe of no-mans land between the two sides. But in reality, you find that in places, it was only 20 yards.


Yeah I visited a couple of places like that. A lot of them are just fields now, but we were shown exactly how far away the opposing lines were and in some instances the two sides could literally shout stuff to each other.

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Re: WW1

Postby Jez » Sun May 29, 2016 7:16 am

Stormbringer wrote:Also lost a great-grandfather to WW1, sometime in 1918 but I don't know which battle it was.

The one striking thing about him dying in that war was that by the time the war started he had already emigrated from England to Australia. He went BACK to England (and moved his family back too) just so he could serve his King and Country and fight in the war! How many people would do that nowadays?


I have a feeling that his family won't have thanked him for his loyalty to the country. It's admirable on some level but you have to wonder if he could be around today to judge his former self what he might say.

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Re: WW1

Postby gpa-gone-west » Mon May 30, 2016 10:30 am

Jez wrote:
Stormbringer wrote:Also lost a great-grandfather to WW1, sometime in 1918 but I don't know which battle it was.

The one striking thing about him dying in that war was that by the time the war started he had already emigrated from England to Australia. He went BACK to England (and moved his family back too) just so he could serve his King and Country and fight in the war! How many people would do that nowadays?


I have a feeling that his family won't have thanked him for his loyalty to the country. It's admirable on some level but you have to wonder if he could be around today to judge his former self what he might say.


On the Wednesday we visited a smaller cemetery for the Devonshire's. Its one of those that are tucked out of the way. you cant see it from the road. But the officer in charge made a plasticine model of the ground on 30th June 1916 (day before the Somme offensive started). He looked at it and thought to himself 'If I was the Germans, I would put a single machine gun in that small building. That way nobody would get across that field'.

He went and told HQ, who promptly told him "Dont worry about that, everything will be fine. The artillery will sort it out". He pressed the issue, so they said "either you command your men, or we will remove you and somebody else will". The next day, he and his men went over the top, and a single German machine gun, in exactly the place he said it would be, cut him and most of his men down. They only got half way across the field.

I wonder what he would think now.

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Re: WW1

Postby Animalmother » Mon May 30, 2016 1:05 pm

You'd wonder if the German's put that machine gun there in the hopes that any attackers would expect it and avoid the area. Incompetence must have been a prerequisite to be a general in the 1900's.

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Re: WW1

Postby DjchunKfunK » Tue May 31, 2016 10:21 am

It was still very much a system whereby officers came from the upper classes and it wasn't a case of the best men for the job, but more your best mate for the job.
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