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Traveled to Belgium to view some of the prominent WWI sites. We visited the Essex Farm Cemetery, Yorkshire Trench, and In Flanders Fields Museum before having dinner in Ypers. Nightly at 20:00 there is a “last Post Ceremony” at the Menin Gate, Ypres, which we watched before returning to England (via the Euro Tunnel).

Watch trip highlights in HD then scroll down for the image gallery and a 360 view of the Essex Farm Cemetery. Links to learn more information are included at the bottom.

This trip also spawned an article in CRBC’s magazine. You can read the article below.

All Images Copyright (c) 2012 Hall.

All Images Copyright (c) 2012 Hall.

* View all Flickr Images in their native resolution

* Watch on Channel 5: WWI’s Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig
* About In Flanders Fields Museum
* About The Yorkshire Trench
* Last Post Ceremony at the Menin GateWatch the ceremony on YouTube
* ‘Drive’ from England to France on the EuroTunnel le Shuttle

Article published in CRBC’s magazine:

Belgium: Where the Poppies Blow

The remembrance poppy was birthed from Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. “In Flanders fields the poppies blow,” he wrote. McCrae took note of the new life, the red poppy, which had sprung up in early May 1915. Picture the scene – red poppies blooming inside a brown “strip of murdered nature” – as one American pilot described the WWI Belgium front line. Today, we equate that bright red poppy with Remembrance Day, 11 November.

Fast forward near a Century and a group of CRBC men walked some of those same fields just days after Remembrance Day 2012. Martin W. organized and led the men’s trip to Belgium. Three autos, eleven guys (with only 10 passports at first), and at 06:30am we were off. Through that Saturday we visited the Yorkshire Trench, Essex Farm Cemetery, and In Flanders Fields Museum before having dinner in Ypers.
Trench warfare was a hallmark of WWI. We saw the advances that the A-frame and duckboard base construction provided to troops. The new zigzag trench construction was evident at the reconstructed Yorkshire Trench – designed to isolate sections of troops from enemy fire. Later, at the In Flanders Fields Museum, we observed a scale model of the trench which gave life to the horrors of trench living.

Thousands of leaves had fallen amongst the gravestones at Essex Farm Cemetery. Their bright yellow color stood in vibrant contrast to the grey November afternoon. Their sundry number evoked thoughts of the 37 million casualties of WWI. Wreaths made of the infamous red poppies were dotted on the landscape, tribute to those whose “name liveth for evermore,” as the memorial headstone displayed.

The full-day outing gave us men a chance to reflect on WWI history, engage in storytelling, debate current events and promote that ever notorious male-bonding. Our wellies had stepped where countless men and boys perished while fighting the Great War. But there was one final event to be witnessed. The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres is held nightly at 20:00. The local bugler’s sound the “Last Post” call. A minute of silence is observed. Visiting individuals are guided to lay wreaths at the memorial. And then the bugler’s return for the final call – “Réveille.” The ceremony wrapped a peaceful covering over what was observed during the day.
About Justin Hall – This was Justin’s first trip to Belgium. It was also his virgin trip with the CRBC men’s group. Would he go again? Absolutely! The day was entertaining with great company and tons of history. Please join us on the next engagement.

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1 Comment

  • 25 November 2012 at 21:45

    Pictures look amazing Justin – well done. Like the view from the bell tower (i didn’t get to go up). Excellent reminders of a fantastic day.