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  • Writer's pictureAngela Louie and Allan de la Plante

Passchendaele - In Flanders Fields

War. When old men send young men to die in the mud and the dirt of some far-off land.

How did Allan develop this fascination with war and conflict?

“I guess it started with the Lone Ranger and The Rifleman as a kid. Soon I was watching the movie with Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back. As a kid I switched from cowboys and Indians to G.I. Joe and Sargent Rock and my imaginary battles on the European front. To Hell and Back was a movie on Murphy’s military life. He became the most decorated American soldier of the Second World War. He also became a celebrated actor upon his return home. I guess my fascination culminated with Saving Private Ryan”.

While enjoying dinner with Rob and his family in Zolder, there was talk about Passchendaele (now Passendale) and Ypres. Rob’s Mother brought up a video of ‘The Last Post’ she had taken in Ypres. I knew then that one or both towns would be our next adventure.

We headed towards Passchendaele, a quiet village that was home to many cemeteries…military cemeteries. It was the final resting place for many valiant soldiers (and so many Canadians) who gave their lives there. It was the site of one of the most gruesome battles during WWI.

During our last European adventure, we had visited Normandy where the D-Day landing of the allied forces had taken place during WWII. Passchendaele and Ypres took place in WWI. There were over 600,000 casualties on both sides in this bloody area alone.

The Passchendaele Museum was located on a beautiful memorial park in Zonneke.

It showed us the battles, the displays of armaments and what it might have felt like to live in the dug-outs and trenches. It seemed unimaginable to spend months there.

We saw uniforms from all sides and even felt what it might have been like to wear the protective gear during guard duty (it was very heavy!).

But even this did not match the sombre experience of our next stop...Ypres.

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24 sept. 2022

Mid-way through this blog you will come upon an image with three bronze medals in a plexi case. These are what is called 'The Lost Penny'. A Lost Penny was sent by the British government to the families of a soldier who lost his life in battle. These three were sent to one Mother whose sons had been killed at Passchendaele. Two were killed on one day and the third the next. I cannot comprehend what this Mother felt when she was informed of their sacrifice.

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