Battlefield Holidays by The Williams Family

A Valley’s View Digital Story

Battlefield Holidays Digital Story Transcript

Our first trip to the battlefields was when my son was 18 months old and that would be the summer of 1986. I was pregnant with my daughter so she got to go to the battlefields before she was born. Next photograph I showed you laying the wreath, this is 3 and a half years later. I don’t think we went in between then so this is 1989. So 1989 must have been the next time we went from 86 to 89. We have Rose Coombs’ book ‘Before Endeavours Fade’ which is probably one of the best books you can get. I think by having the book it shows you places you can actually see and visit and walk around. She worked for the war graves commission I think. So you’ve got this and when you see this in the book you feel you have to go back and see this for yourself. We’ve also seen a lot of changes because we’ve got the Menin Gate at Ypres. When we used to go in the 90’s you could actually drive through this Menin Gate. We used to drive through centre town, through Menin Gate and off into the countryside. Now they’ve built a bypass so some of that is gone. They still have the bugles every evening which they do at Ypres. So we have seen in 25 years many changes to the battlefields, particularly near roads, but when you see this here there’s no reason why you can’t go and see it. We were limited on doing a lot of walking because the children were too small. There are sort of like parks, each nationality like the Canadians have got their area and the South Africans at Delville Wood. They have developed their own information centre. At Delville Wood they their troops, where perhaps they lost a lot of their troops. So you can go there and go from the centres in the day and from the war graves commission you get the cemetery maps. You can stand in one cemetery in the Somme area and when you look around you can see all the other cemeteries. They are so numerous you can see them in the distance all around you.

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