Have just returned from a visit to Ypres in the company of my brother and my nephew. It was a moving experience. We stayed in Hooge just outside Ypres, a amazing place. The grounds of the hotel was the front line and what is now a lake was a crater created by mining and a bomb explosion. It was the place that the Germans first used flame throwers. We visited the Hooge Crater Cemetery it has nearly 6000 graves many have the remains of move than one soldiers all unnamed. Hooge is such a small hamlet for such large tragic event.
The object of our visit was to visit the memorials to my Grandads brothers one on Tyne Cot and the other on Thiepval memorials. It was emotional finding their names. Visiting the Passendale museum with their reconstruction trenches helped to reinforce the futility of war. The thousands of names and graves at Tyne Cot, Thiepval and the Menin Gate are just a fraction of the lives lost. We went to one of the moving daily services held at the Menin gate. Let’s not forget the fallen and take time to remember the events of over hundred years.
We also used the diaries of 1/8 Royal Warwickshire diaries to find where my Grandad was in the trenches, La plus Douve Farm. It was moving to imagine his experiences by reading the diaries. In the diaries it just says 1 private killed with no names so I photographed the graves to add to my transcript of the diaries. Imagine my surprise when getting back to find the first soldier killed in his regiment at la Douve trenches was Walter Rainsford who’s sister had lived next door to my Uncle in Kidderminster. I wondered if Grandad had realised the connection when he spoke to Miss Rainsford.
Now I am working on transcribing the diaries and adding the names of the soldiers killed as a way of remembering the fallen that were in my grandads regiment.