I wasn’t sure whether this was something I wanted to post about, but here I am.
During our recent trip to France we visited several WWI cemeteries and memorials, one in particular in search of Mr K’s great uncle James (who we found).
I’m unsure on the etiquette of taking photos in cemeteries, so I didn’t take many, and didn’t really focus on graves in particular, but more the surrounding areas – the peaceful resting places.
We were staying near to Compiegne and Soissons so over the week we visited the Armistice Clearing, the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge and we even drove up to Bailleul near the border for Belgium.
Obviously I knew about WWI prior to the visit – I’d even visited Vimy Ridge & Arras before – but nothing moves you quite like seeing the names of all those young men (and women) – French, Moroccan, British, Canadian, German and others – who went into France and never came home. The concept of “never” was hard too – they’re still in France today, many unvisited because either they’re difficult to find, unnamed or because their relatives can’t make the trip. What a lonely way to lay at rest.
For much of these day trips I was speechless – walking slowly, I wanted to read the name of every person known to be there – and every person assumed to be there. I wanted to remember the names, and I thought about their families – their mums or wives waiting for them to come home, but not knowing. I thought about their sisters and imagined if my brother had to go to war, how I would feel if I didn’t know whether he was alive. How I’d feel if I couldn’t visit his resting place if he wasn’t.
Pictures can’t do the feeling justice.