An ANZAC Day tribute

Hi Frugalistas!

I’m making some changes to my Friday fotos series – moving it from a photo essay to a short selection of photos with a short narrative.  To start I’m so delighted to be able to share this piece on ANZAC Day.  ANZAC (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) Day is the most important day for Australians and New Zealanders to remember their servicemen and women.  The day itself, 25 April, commemorates the day the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in 2015, which remains one of both countries’ greatest military disasters.  ANZAC Day is a day of reflection for all battles, in all wars and to remember the courage of all who serve our country.  My photos today are special.  They come from a visit I made in 2011 to the World War I battle fields of Flanders in Belgium.

There are many war grave cemeteries in Flanders, particularly around the town of Ypres.  I was fortunate to visit a number of them during a day trip from Bruges.

The first cemetery we visited was a German war grave cemetery.  The grave stones are horizontal to the ground.  Our guide told us how, as part of the agreement to conclude the war (the Treaty of Versailles) Germany agreed that none of their war graves would be vertical.  The Germans were to be submissive even in death.  The only vertical object allowed in this particular cemetery is the sculpture representing the four branches of the German armed forces – Army, Navy, Air Force and Medical Corps.  I was saddened to learn that while Allied cemeteries are maintained by respective governments (Australia has a War Graves Commission for the purpose for example) the German war graves in Belgium and France are maintained by volunteers.  Many of the volunteers are German, but also representatives of the Allied Forces.  At the German cemetery we visited, I noticed a wreath laid by an English school group the day before our visit.

Contrast the sombre German cemetery with the Commonwealth one I’m featuring here.  The US and Canada have their own separate war grave cemeteries, while ANZAC soldiers are buried in Commonwealth war cemeteries that also include British and Irish dead.  Walking among the grave stones is a sad and poignant reminder of just how young many of these men were.  Some were injured beyond recognition – their graves are marked as unknown soldiers “known only unto God”.  Others contain poems and make reference to the sadness of their mothers and families so far away.  Row upon row of tragedy and loss.

The Flanders battlefields are just nearby the often visited picturesque town of Bruges.  A visit to the battlefields and the town of Ypres remain one of the most meaningful days I’ve ever spent travelling.

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10 Comments on “An ANZAC Day tribute”

  1. Ian 25/04/2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Nice Jo!!! great article and photos , on a very special ANZAC DAY

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 25/04/2014 at 12:57 pm #

      Thanks Ian. It really was one of the best travelling experiences I’ve had. I’d love to go to Northern France one day too.

  2. jenny@atasteoftravel 25/04/2014 at 2:23 pm #

    After last year’s visit to Villers-Bretonneux for Anzac Day, I’d love to go to Flanders next….so much history !

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 25/04/2014 at 2:29 pm #

      It makes a wonderful day trip from Bruges Jenny. Villers-Bretonneux is on my list so we need to swap! Ypres is a very pretty town that has been rebuilt following the war is also worth a visit.

  3. The Guy 25/04/2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Very touching Jo and lovely pictures. I know ANZAC day is a massive event in the 2 countries and rightly so. 11th November is our equivalent in the UK.

    Lest we forget what a tragedy befell the world.


    • frugalfirstclasstravel 26/04/2014 at 7:48 am #

      Thanks, The Guy. We commemorate 11 November as well, but 25 April is the big day here, and is a public holiday.

  4. fotoeins 27/04/2014 at 3:05 am #

    I felt it was a great privilege to visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, as well as being present for the marches in Sydney last April for ANZAC Day. I learned a lot about how important April 25 is for both Australia and New Zealand. I now seek to learn more about Gallipoli – I really should visit Turkey some day. As for Flanders/Ypres, that’s a big deal for Canada – I really should visit Belgium soon, too. Thanks for writing about this, Jo!

  5. frugalfirstclasstravel 27/04/2014 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks Henry. There is a dedicated Canadian cemetery not far from the Commonwealth one I’ve featured. We went past it but didn’t visit as my tour group was only Australians and Brits. Gallipoli is “the” place for us, and having been to Istanbul I’m desperately keen to make the pilgrimage.

  6. It really takes you aback to see how many war graves there are out there. Such senseless loss. I can only hope the world grows gradually more peaceful as time goes by – I know there are still soldiers out there.

    Great ANZAC day tribute.

  7. frugalfirstclasstravel 28/04/2014 at 6:17 am #

    You just can’t imagine the numbers of headstones, in cemetery after cemetery…….

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