WW1 : Victory Medals

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Belgium, and more particular, Flanders was the major scenery of the first world war.  The Great War as it has been called in all history books made deep scarves in both the landscape and the hearts of flemish people

The British front line was determined to keep the Germans from traversing Flanders and the Ypres river valley to reach the port of Calais. Troops from both sides were holed up in the Ypres salient, an outward projection of the battle line. Defending British troops were vulnerable on three sides; therefore this was a bloody and dangerous place for a soldier to be.

The destruction from the battles in this area reached beyond the battlefield to the towns and roads of the area, and led to the demolition of buildings, roads, and all plant life, leaving only mud.

Noticed as early as the Napoleonic Wars, red poppies grew on the graves of dead soldiers in the fields of northern Europe. Evidently, poppy seeds will lie underground for years and bloom if they are plowed up. In the spring of 1915, red poppies flourished in the fields of the Ypres salient covering the newly dug graves.

It is in this scenery that one of the most famous poems of the Great War was written

In Flanders Fields
Lieutenant-General John Mc Crae
Canadian 1st Field Artillery Brigade
Ypres spring 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
      In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
      In Flanders fields.

In Vlaamse velden
(Vert. Tom Lanoye, 2000)

In Vlaamse velden klappen rozen open
Tussen witte kruisjes, rij op rij,
Die onze plaats hier merken, wijl in 't zwerk
De leeuweriken fluitend werken, onverhoord
Verstomd door het gebulder op de grond

Wij zijn de doden. Zo-even leefden wij.
Wij dronken dauw. De zon zagen wij zakken.
Wij kusten en werden gekust. Nu rusten wij
    In Vlaamse velden voor de Vlaamse kust.

Toe: trekt gij ons krakeel aan met de vijand.
Aan u passeren wij, met zwakke hand, de fakkel.
Houd hem hoog. Weest gmj de helden. Laat de doden
Die wij zijn niet stikken of wij vinden slaap
Vrede - ook al klappen zoveel rozen open
    In zovele Vlaamse velden.

This section of the website and my collection is in honour of all the men and women that fought and died for our freedom.