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Intro

Day 1-3 (Paris) Day 4        5       6 (France) Day 7     8      9 (Belgium)    Day 10         11       12 (Nether.)
C.O.'s Intro | Itinerary

June 1-3

Dieppe | Juno | Clair Tison Ypres | Vimy | Low Tempo Walcheren | Arnhem | Groningen

2010 Centennial Battlefield Pilgrimage - Day 9

June 9th was a "low tempo" day with a half day of planned stops for those who wished to participate (and those who did not were left to the Ypres area for shopping, relaxing, or diversions of their choosing) and an afternoon of additional option stops for the truly hardcore.

First stop was Essex Farms, where Canadian medical personnel established positions during the Ypres fighting in 1915, and where John McCrae wrote "In Flanders Fields." Concrete bunkers - not present during the fighting of 1915, but a later addition - are still found at the site, as well as a small Commonwealth military cemetery and British divisional monument.


Lieutenant Colonel Vernon examines one of the bunkers. Photo by Nancy Desilets

Monument to the British 49th (West Riding) Division, located at Essex Farm.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Major Kyle Clapperton looks out over the grave markers at Langemark German War Cemetery. Close to 25,000 German soldiers from the First World War are buried at the site, about half of them unknown burials, including over 7,900 in a mass grave.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Symbols of remembrance are now freely left at Langemark by citizens of former "enemy" nations. The participants of the battlefield tour travelled through four European nations without border stops, visas, or passport checks, and spent a common currency in all four - something that would have been unthinkable in the summer of 1914.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Professor Emil Krieger's statue of mourning German soldiers was inspired by a contemporary First World War photograph.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Members of the tour listen to tour guide Jim Henderson describe how the Canadian Corps advanced during the Battle of Passchendaele, pointing to the actual terrain over which the fighting developed.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Tour guide Jim Henderson points out the German bunker at the heart of the memorial at the Tyne Cot cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in existence.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Earl Morris at the site of the 10th Battalion's famous counter-attack at Kitcheners' Wood. The memorial marker sits on private property by the side of a rural road, a farmer's house on the site of the battalion's start line. What would have been the objective on 22 April 1915 - the oak wood of Bois de Cuisinieres - lies on the horizon.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Sergeant Richard Desilets and Mr. Paul Burke, both former members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, pay their respects at the PPCLI memorial at Frezenberg, where the regiment first went into action and "counted not the cost" during the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The afternoon began with a trip to Poperinghe Military Cemetery to decorate the grave of Lieutenant Colonel Russell L. Boyle, the commanding officer of the 10th Battalion who was mortally wounded in their first combat action at Kitcheners' Wood.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Poperinghe is also the site of a somber display dedicated to executed Commonwealth service personnel of the First World War. One soldier of the 10th Battalion had been executed for desertion from the trenches. It is now recognized that medical diagnosis of psychiatric casualties was in its infancy; the poem displayed in the courtyard (as shown in the photo at right) recognizes that perception, diagnosis and treatment of these cases has all changed dramatically in the years since 1914. Preserved beside the courtyard, along with a facsimile of the post to which condemned men were led, are the actual holding cells in which they spent the last night of their lives.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

It was a small group indeed that headed out for the "low tempo" afternoon, among them a retired general and a retired colonel. The rest of the participants recharged their batteries or enjoyed such sights as the Cloth Hall and the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres itself.


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