Around Ypres

Today is a gloomy day with overcast weather and a light drizzle, though this does not change our plans: we drive to Vladslo to visit the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof. We haven’t visited any German cemeteries in France, though we did not exclude them specifically from our plans. Here around Ypres there are several close by though and this one is famous for having two statues from Käthe Kollwitz representing grieving parents, that she made for her son who is buried here. This cemetery is very sober with dark, flat stones each bearing the name of twenty soldiers – more than 25.000 in total, however it holds the same sadness. We walk in the drizzling rain through the surrounding forest Praatbos, following the poetry around to the bunkers and back to the car.

We drive by Ypres again to the Heuvelland area and visit the Pool of Peace, a crater created by an underground mine explosion from the Battle of Messines. The map of the front line is dotted with these craters, easily recognizable by their shape and size. We stop briefly at the Tourist Office in Kemmel to view the local exhibition and buy tickets for Bayernwald, a small elevation where the Germans were entrenched for years and where archeaologists have reconstructed some trenches. There is interesting information about the tunneling done in this area to undermine the German positions.

From here it’s a short drive to Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is the first place we visit where there’s actually a crowd.

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