Dear Friend of Flanders,

In view of the COVID-19-situation, specific safety measures and additional restrictions are currently in place across Belgium. You will find more detailed information on following website. For the latest travel advice to our country, please consult your local authorities.

If you are travelling to Flanders, Brussels or elsewhere in Belgium for a duration of 48 hours or more, you will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form, within the 48 hours before your arrival in Belgium. 

Take good care of yourself and each other and keep it safe and healthy.  

We hope to welcome you again soon, with twice the heart, love and hospitality. 

Warm regards,

Ernest Wood

While the Great War may have taken place in Europe, it changed and claimed the lives of countless people far beyond this single continent.  Ernest William Wood, for example, was an Australian soldier who fought in Passchendaele, Flanders Fields during WWI.

Ernest Wood
Ernest was born in Brisbane in 1897, as the fifth of 12 children. John Wood and Elizabeth Brewster, who affectionately referred to their son as Ernie, sent him to the Central School in Brisbane and later saw him become an accomplished flautist in the Brisbane City Band. Already showing a sense of patriotism and solidarity from an early age, Ernest joined the Queensland Naval Reserve cadets in the early 1900s.
When the First World War broke out in Europe and the Allies called out for support from overseas, Ernest bravely volunteered, enlisting in the 41st Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force in December 1915. He was almost 19 at the time. After completing training at Bell’s Paddock, Ernest was sent to Europe in May 1916 as a signaller.
By Christmas that same year, the 41st Battalion had reached Armentières, in the north of France, shortly after which they crossed the border to fight back the Germans in Belgium. 
In October 1917, while stationed between Ypres and Passchendaele, Ernest was hit by flying shrapnel, and a severe leg wound and broken arm abruptly put an end to his mission. After lying helplessly in the mud for several days, Ernest was luckily found and most likely taken to casualty clearing stations in Tyne Cot and Poperinge. He was then transferred to a British hospital to recover, after which he was eventually sent home to Australia.
Ernest Wood

When Ernest was once again fit to work, he took on a job as a clerk in the Commonwealth Department of Light Houses and Shipping, returning to the military one last time as an air raid warden during the Second World War. In 1923, Ernest got married and went on to raise six children, four of which are still alive today. He died in Brisbane in 1963.

Although Ernest was fortunate enough to survive the Great War, the time he spent in Flanders Fields changed his life forever. Even today, the impact of these four historic years can still be felt, and for those of us interested in experiencing history firsthand there are numerous places to visit. To name but a few:

The Memorial Museum in Passchendaele, which lies just a stone’s throw away from where Ernest Wood was wounded in 1917, offers visitors a good idea of what life was like in the trenches via a collection of pictures, films, artefacts and dioramas. 

The Talbot House can be found in Poperinge, which is another Belgian town where Ernest Wood was stationed. This museum used to be a clubhouse where soldiers of all ranks came for entertainment. In addition to the exhibitions, visitors also get to enjoy concert parties similar to those that took place during the war.

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