For the past seven years Nancy and I explored narrow country lanes and small villages of northern France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Netherlands in search of battlefields, memorials, cemeteries, and other residue of the military engagements that took place on these tortured lands. We discovered interesting sites that have filled us with inspiration, sadness, and humility. However, those are only objects and do not speak to the people of this region. The following are reminiscences of people and events that we experienced during those travels.
An unsual fellow with a permanent handicap was doing what he could to keep alive the memory of those British soldiers killed on Ypres Battlefield. But would he live long enough?
While traveling on the Somme Battlefield, we were witnessing the burial of a soldier killed 88 years previously.
It was mid-spring 2005 and I had been in the Meuse-Argonne area for several days reviewing the sites relating to that First World War battle. On one particular afternoon, I drove the roadways near Brieulles-sur-Meuse to view the Kriemhilde Stellung terrain.
It was sunny on an early April day when my wife and I left our B&B to tour the 'rear area' of the First World War Ieper battlefield. Of special interest to us was Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, located southwest of Poperinge.
We had made arrangements to stay in a B&B located near the eastern end of the Chemin des Dames battlefield near Soissons. We had stayed there once before and we were again warmly received by our host, the madame who rented one bedroom in the chateau's circular tower.
Upon arriving at the Aisne - Marne American Cemetery, we were most impressed by the colorful and dignified placement of a single red rose atop each of the 2,289 gravestones.