Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Fields is associated with the battles of the Yser, Ypres, Passchendaele and the Somme. It is also the place where the Canadian Lt Col John McCrae wrote his most famous poem:
“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row, “
The Westhoek has become a main Belgium attraction with “Guided battlefield tours”, including vsits to all kinds of (private) museums and cemeteries. The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendale is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
I quote the brochure of one of the ‘Battlefield Tours’:
“Discover restored trenches, stroll amongst eerily quiet war graves in Passchendale and Polygon Wood, clamber over craters and bunkers on the preserved Hill 60 battlefield and pay homage to the monuments erected in proud memory of the sacrifices of the British Forces.
We visit the beautiful city of Ypres (also known as Wipers) which was rebuilt to medieval plans after being totally flattened in WWI. It is also home to the imposing Menin Gate Memorial to the missing which bears the names of almost 55,000 men who fell in the Ypres Salient and who have no known grave. Erected on the spot where the soldiers left the city for the frontline, this is a truly humbling experience”.
With my photo series I want to show how this terrible war has become a commercial instrument and for the English in particular.