VerDUN with France Category: modern history tour 2017

James Layland
Mon, 03 Jul 2017 07:19 AM

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James 

The sleepy town of verdun in north eastern France, along the ancient border of Germany, is one of emerald canals, a relaxed populace, ancient history and of the Pyrrhic victory at verdun

After the 4 hour or so bus ride we enjoyed a scenic picnic lunch comprised of traditional French food staples such as baguettes, various meats and cheeses. We ate next to the emerald river of Meuse in a light drizzle and under the echo of a long ago age represented by a medieval gatehouse

Afterwards we drove across the once battle scared battlegrounds with our guide, providing a verbal annotation and context to what we were viewing through the windows which included shell holes, old dig outs and otherwise general battle damage within the leafed woods

Verdun was quite a moving place, all I could feel for the rows upon rows of graves was empathy and regret. In the Somme, we looked upon the Australian and Canadian war dead, and it was one of the most staggering moments I have experienced, each man with a personal message and a name amongst other information. However the French graves were on a much larger scale, although I couldn't identify with the French dead I understood beyond a doubt the gravity of that sacred ground and it was simply staggering. The cemetery itself included men of all faiths including Jews, Christians and the Moroccan and Algerian Muslims that fought for France, each with different styled graves and numbering in total graves 15,000

Afterwards year 10 and below were set sloop upon the town and yours truly amongst others enjoyed a concert in the Central Park by chance and played a game of footy with the boys. A very eccentric Malouf later saronaded us on our way to the hotel with 'times are a changing' by bob Dylan on the harmonica . A good au revoir to France, I guess you could say verdun with France and that a lot was verdun

(Too many puns?)

owen

Visiting the Ossuary at Duoaument was an unreal expierence, the massive scale of the ossuary reminded me of how the Great War affected a massive amount ordinary people. It was a truly harrowing time. Mass amounts of crosses placed there unmoving, each representing a man who had lost his life because of war. The tour group seemed almost insignificant compared to the mass amounts of crosses that stood before us. 15 000 crosses stood in a field of perfectly cut grass with a French flag waving in the wind. The ossuary building was a testament to all of the soldiers, standing magnificently in the field made with the names of soldiers on each block. The ossuary reminded us of the malicious nature of war and made it apparent the large scale loss of life that occurred during the war. The crosses seemed immeasurable and represent a fraction of those men who payed the ultimate sacrifice.

 

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