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Beer and chocolates can’t erase Belgium’s bloody past

PLEASE join me, Bunbury photojournalist DAVID BAILEY, as I capture moving photos of WWI’s historic sites of interest.

RENOWNED these days for its beer and chocolates, as well as being the defacto capital of the European Union, this country was forged in conflict and played a major role in the experience of Australian soldiers in world war.

Belgium was the catalyst for Great Britain and the Commonwealth’s entry into the Great War, after German forces attacked the tiny nation, following its refusal to let its troops pass through her country to attack France.

All five Australian divisions took part in the Third Battle of Ypres, which was in fact a series of battles culminating in the Battles of Passchendaele, a name synonymous with mud, blood and suffering.

Nearing the end of this visit to France and the Western Front, I travelled with friends to the historic village of Ypres, where just over a century ago ANZACs struggled together to overcome the battlefield conditions and the enemy.

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A sunny day let us enjoy the beauty of the towns and farms, as the last rays of sun before the heavy rains to come turn the land into a muddy and damp terrain.

At Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood.

 

A visit to the Australian 5th division and the cemetery in front of the monument, Buttes New British Polygon Wood, was a good place to start. A successful, yet costly, place of battle for the Diggers.

Then it was on to Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Near the town of Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world is the resting place of more than 11,900 servicemen of the British Empire from World War I.

It was moving experience to walk among the many graves and take in what happened in this area over a century ago.

It was then on to the town centre of Iepre, where I enjoyed the local amber nectar while sitting opposite the amazing memorial of Menin Gate.

I raised my glass to toast the memory of the men listed on the iconic memorial.

Its walls contain the names of the more than 50,000, who have no known graves and were listed as missing.

For more images from David Bailey’s vast library of photographs taken on the Western Front, go to www.historyimprint.net

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