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Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

The Menin Gate

A couple of years ago my wife and I took a trip around Europe. We had a great time pootling around the highways and byways of the continent. The only off key thing about the trip was in the last couple of days before returning across the channel. As a day out while staying in St Omer, out of simple curiosity we went to Ypres in Belgium to sample the frites and the chocolate. The whole town had been almost wiped off the map in the 1914-18 war and completely rebuilt in the 1920’s. It is also the location of the famous Menin gate, where the names of all the British servicemen who have no known grave are engraved. It was a tremendously humbling experience. It is a huge list of names, regiment after regiment, I couldn't count them all.

Up on the Menin gate we saw three names; all subsequently turned out to be connected with our immediate families. We stayed for the ‘Last Post’ ceremony that evening. I shall never consider Belgians (Unless they are Brussels bureaucrats) boring or risible, ever again.

I think I shall spend a little time in the Garden of Remembrance on Sunday on my afternoon tea break (My beat should take me past there.). For the Great Uncles I never knew.

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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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