World War 1 Centenary continued

More vibrant poppies1

Poppies from around the world inside the Menin Gate

We started the day at Hooge Crator, it is a very intimate museum and café which has a very friendly atmosphere and appears to be very popular if the amount of people who were there is anything to go by.

The main visit of the day, and most emotional, was the visit to the Passchendaele Ridge and Tyne Cot Cemetery where literally thousands of soldiers are laid to rest. Walking up the middle of the cemetery looking from side to side are tragically many headstones saying A Soldier Of The Great War, Known Unto God.

When we arrived at Tyne Cot we were told about a cluster of 5 German pill boxes that stood there just below the crest of the Passchendaele Ridge. Australian troops took it off the Germans on 4th October 1917. This site got bigger in the 1920s as small battlefield cemeteries were closed down and the burials moved there, bodies recovered from the battlefields were also taken there.

It is the largest British Military cemetery in the world with 11,956 burials, over 70% of the graves are unidentified and at the rear of it is a memorial wall which carries the names of 34,888 missing soldiers.

After the visit to Tyne Cot we were then taken to see the war from a different viewpoint as we travelled to the German cemetery at Langemark. This cemetery is very simplistic in its design and is very Germanic in its appearance. It contains the bodies of almost 45,000 German troops with 25,000 of them in a mass grave as you enter the cemetery.

Next we visited Ypres Town Cemetery which was again very emotional particularly because soldiers graves were in an extension but there were also many military graves mixed in with civilian graves and there were several officers and just one Private from the army buried together here.

After this we visited Messines and went round another intimate little museum before travelling on to Hyde Park Corner Cemetery and its very impressive extension across the road. Whilst there the horror of the war hit home as it was here that we came across the grave of Rifleman A. E. French who died in 1916 aged just 16 years.

Following this visit we walked a short distance down the road to The Plugstreet Experience. Ploegsteert Wood (known as Plugstreet Wood to British forces) and the surrounding area was a frontline area from early in 1914 until the Allies broke out of it in September 1918, it was however one of the quietest areas on the Western Front and many young new recruits were sent here to gain experience before being sent to more dangerous areas on the frontline. The Plugstreet Experience is a brand new, and very welcoming and impressive museum which is very well worth visiting.

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