Friday, 21 June 2013


Click on picture to enlarge
Sorry, but I have been away for a few days in Belguim and France with a few others visiting some of the battlefields and many cementaries of the Biritish and Commonwealth (and German) dead of WWI. The weather was brilliant and the trip, though short, was very enjoyable. Even if a few tears were wiped from eyes. 

We had a very early flight out of Dublin airport and started off in the European Parliament  in Brussels getting the standard fare of political propaganda. The EU represetnative was very nice and polite, but he had his job to do. He wasn't getting much jam from our lot of Euro sceptics :o) Having said that, our beef (to confound the metaphors) is more with the British government for refusing to give the UK electorate a vote on the matter. The 1973 vote was to join a Common Market. We have come a very long way from then. If I can ever the opprotunity to vote that the UK gets out, I'll take it. Nice to see Diane Dodds MEP again for a more {cough} balanced view.

We visited the Somme where 5,000 Ulstermen died on 1st July, 1916. I grew up in East Belfast with the folklore of this battle still fresh in people's minds.. Memorable words that go deep into the Ulster physche are those of a Canadian observer who said:

"I am not an Ulsterman but yesterday, the 1st. July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world.

Lovely second hand bookshop at the bottom of our hotel street in Brugges where there might been a rich picking or two, but no chance to visit as its limited opening hours didn't match ours :o( 

We attended the nightly Remembrance service at the Menin Gate in Ypres where some of our group laid a wreath. The video below is not of our visit, but borrowed from YouTube. Thanks to whoever filmed it. This event has taken place every night of the week since 1928. The Naxi invasion prevented it for 4 years, but on the very night the town was liberated in 1944 (while still under fire) the Belguim buglers were out and the observation is maintained in all weathers.

We also visited the very spot, under a tree, where John McCrea wrote his "In Flanders field"  poem and my son, Andrew (9) was chosen by the group to read it out. (Another tear wiped away)

So that's it. A great wee break as the Ulster men would put it. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

All are welcome to comment here provided that the usual principles of Christian comment e.g. politeness etc. are observed.