WW1

Sharing my photographs of the Old Front Line

It’s been another difficult week in lockdown but hopefully better news will come in the New Year. Then maybe (Brexit Permitting!) we can all start planning our travels & pilgrimages to the Old Front Line once again. Until then we find that our minds continue drifting back to better times so I thought that I’d share with you just a few of the photos that I’ve taken on some of my visits over the past few years. I’m certainly no Paul Reed, Andrew Holmes or anyone else of you talented folks who take amazing images for that matter when it comes to my photography and I’ll be honest all of my images were just taken on a mobile phone without filters

But here below is a selection of my images. Please do enjoy them but don’t reproduce anywhere without permission (I know I shouldn’t have to ask but you know what some people are like!!)

First up we’re in Ypres with the ever magnificent Menin Gate as well as the beautifully restored Cloth Hall

Menin Gate, Ypres 2019
Cloth Hall, Grote Markt, Ypres 2016

Staying on the Salient a pilgrimage wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery & Memorial, there are 11,961 burials here,mostly unknowns, whilst just under 35,000 missing are named on the memorial

Storm clouds gather above Tyne Cot, 2016

Just South of Ypres, as we head on the N336 road towards Sint Eloi, we pass Bedford House Cemetery. Always a favourite place to wander around with it’s different sections of burials around the old Chateau & moat..it’s alot bigger than you first think!!

Bedford House, 2017

On my visits I always stay on the Somme but I always try and spend a day on the Salient. After a meal & the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate it’s a drive back across the border into France and it was on one of these evening drives that I just had to pull up at the side of the road outside I think Oosttaverne Wood (Please correct me if I’m wrong) and capture the most beautiful sunset. Definitely one of those right place,right time moments

Sunset on the Salient, 2018

West of Ypres in 2019 I found myself near Poperinge at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery,my first visit here. The site of several Casualty Clearing stations, Remy Sidings named after the railway here, and that’s why of the 9,901 commonwealth burials here only 24 are unknowns with a further 883 other nationalities mainly French & German buried also

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, 2019

Vimy Memorial to the Canadian missing is vast & certainly impressive. On a windy, showery day in March 2016 Mother Canada, mourning for her lost sons seemed even more sorrowful

Mother Canada, Vimy Memorial, 2016

Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery with it’s backdrop of the memorial is simply breathtaking. The stonework & sculpturing I think is certainly at its very best here

Vis-en-Artois, 2017

Whilst in the same area I visited for the first time the battlefields around Arras, especially Rouex & Monchy Le Preux. And I captured some of the iron harvest that had been left on the wall at Monchy British Cemetery

Monchy British Cemetery, 2017

Heading down to the Somme it wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the mighty Thiepval, but I don’t think I’ve ever managed to take an impressive photo of it that does it justice. Either the lights wrong or someone wanders into shot at the wrong time

Thiepval, 2018

Off the usual track that people take at Montauban I found myself in Quarry Cemetery many years ago on an errand for Conor Reeves who needed a photo of a particular headstone after researching the man who now rests there. I returned on a wonderful Summers day in 2018, a very peaceful location

Quarry Cemetery, Montauban, 2018

Not far away is Bernafay Wood, which I’ve featured in a Cemetery Focus blog and is most definitely a personal favourite

Bernafay Wood, 2019

Devonshire Trench, close to Mametz, is especially moving as those who fell here on 1st July 1916 are buried in literally the trench that they unsuccessfully started their advance from. With those immortal words inscribed on the entrance to the Cemetery ” The Devonshires held this trench, the Devonshires hold it still”

Devonshire Cemetery, 2018

Adanac Military Cemetery (the name was formed by reversing the name “Canada”) was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the Canadian battlefields around Courcelette and the small cemeteries surrounding Miraumont

One of the many Canadian Unknown soldiers in Adanac, 2019

And finally I’ll end our nostalgic trip to the old front line with two images that mean something personal. The first is at Roye New British Cemetery, South of Peronne and the place where my relative, Sjt James Lucas 6th Lancashire Fusiliers is remembered. A very rarely visited cemetery & close to a busy road with several HGVs passing on their way to nearby industry around Roye. The entrance I find is incredibly beautiful, very reminiscent of dry stone walling

Roye New British Cemetery, 2017

And the final one is of my best mate Andy & his dad Brian visiting their relative Edward Partington at Éterpigny British Cemetery. Edward was killed on 2nd September 1918 whilst serving with Kings Own Royal Lancashire Regiment. He was just 18 years old

Brian & Andy Partington,Éterpigny, 2018

As I said a the start of this blog these visits are pilgrimages and what more says that than the photo above

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of my images of the last few years and I hope it doesn’t cause any heartache for anyone. Enjoy until you can be there for yourself and see with your own eyes the beauty of these sacred places

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