Eddie and Eileen from Manchester (UK)
Eddie’s grandfather was 37 years old when he fell on 22 October 1917. He is one of 34,945 soldiers with no known grave remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. Eddie’s mother, his grandson and now Eddie himself have travelled to Flanders over the past years to remember and pay their respects.
“One thing that really surprises me,” Eddie says in astonishment, “is the many war relics that we have seen laying around - shell cases, shrapnel and so on. It is crazy that they are still digging up debris from the First World War.”
Indeed, during so-called iron harvests, Belgian farmers and a specialist army squad collect about 160 tonnes of unexploded weapons, barbed wire, shrapnel etc. each year. More than an estimated one billion shells were fired in the conflict and it is estimated that as many as one in every three shells fired did not detonate.
Eddie and Eileen were especially touched by the Death Cells in Poperinge where British Great War soldiers were imprisoned and executed. “It’s awful. These men were shell-shocked but were executed by their own people for desertion. Nobody deserves this,“ Eileen says bitterly.
“It was a waste of young lives,” Eddie explains while overlooking Lijssenthoek Cemetery, one of the largest Commonwealth cemeteries in Flanders Fields. “It‘s shocking to see the many cemeteries, small and large, that lie beside every road.“
Eileen and Eddie agree that getting around in Flanders Fields and discovering the area at your own pace is easy and comfortable: “The people here are very friendly and helpful. I am impressed of how knowledgeable they are about their area and about what happened here,” Eddies explains. “Everyone here is happy to help you.”
Story created on 31 August 2016