For the past four and a bit years I’ve been immersed in the commemoration of WW1 as part of the team running this site, as a volunteer at the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum and due to my own interest in this period of history.
Back in September 2014 I made a visit to France which included visiting the Etaples Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery but since then I haven’t had the chance to go back to the Western Front., however as entered the last month of the centenary commemorations I had the luck to visit Ypres for along weekend.
Well aware how easy it is to become overwhelmed by trying to see too much in a short period of time we decided to visit fewer places for longer periods of time and coupled with the glorious weather encouraging us to enjoy the European cafe culture we had a wonderful, if moving weekend.
Our first stop was at the tucked away Underhill Military Cemetery where there are graves of two Norfolk Regiment men who died 100 years to the day before our visit.
Underhill Cemetery is opposite the Ploegsteert Woods, which inspired Roland Leighton to compose the poem Villanelle / Violets from Plug Street Wood for his fiancee Vera Brittain. The woods were quiet during our visit and we actually came across a herd of deer.
After the quiet of the woods we went along to the Ploegsteert Memorial to visit the panel were the Hellesdon man, William Piercy is commemorated. His story was featured here on the blog earlier this year and it felt appropriate to ‘visit’ him now we know his story.
The Ploegsteert Memorial and Cemetery were, like every Commonwealth War Graves site, beautifully maintained and in the autumn sunshine it was hard to remember the horror of the war that necessitated the memorial.
I’m not going to give a full ‘what I did on my holiday’ report here, but following advice and hints we’d been given on the @Norfolkinww1 Twitter feed, we did visit the Menin Gate in time for the 8pm Ceremony and also some sites that without being told about we’d never have seen. If you are interested in seeing more of my photos then please do visit my Flickr page.