Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day - 11 November 2007

Today is Remembrance Day - L'Armistice - Wapenstilstand. I heard that the oldest British survivor of WWI is 109 years old.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele (old Flemish name, Passendale in English), a First-World-War offensive that became a symbol of the violence of war in its most gruesome and senseless form. In remembrance of the 500,000 soldiers who lost their lives, the municipalities of Zonnebeke, Heuvelland, Messines and Ypres have marked the anniversary with a series of events coinciding with the phases of the original offensive. The events, have taken place over five weekends between June and November. The last, this weekend, remembers the Canadians.

Fought in 1917, the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres (Ieper), was one of the major battles of the First World War. British, ANZAC and Canadian soldiers fought against the German Army for control of the Belgian village in a battle that lasted three months and claimed the lives of over 500,000 soldiers.

The British soldiers could not pronounce Ypres or Ieper so they looked at the French spelling and called the place "Wipers".

Memorial Museum Passendale 1917
The Long, Long Trail
BBC: Battle of Passchendaele
Wikipedia - Battle of Passchendaele

Appropriately, this poem was written by a Canadian officer:

In Flanders Fields
The poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
- Canadian Luitenant-Colonel John McCrae in 1815 (1872-1918)

In flanders Fields Museum 057 23 92 20 Ieper

This video shows real footage of the battle accompanied by Iron Maiden's song.

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