Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Day the Rejects went to Waterloo, a long, long time ago.

........ok let's get this out of the way now...Happy St Patricks Day from a real Irishman and don't forget to get a bit of Irish in ya.

I was reading the latest issue of Wargames Illustrated 281 and at the end there was an article on the farm complex at Hougoumont, Waterloo and it got me thinking to the day 7 or 8 years ago when four of us Rejects (myself, Ray, Ian and Richard) went on a day trip from England to Waterloo in Brussels to view the battlefield and also drop into Ypres on the way back to view the WW1 cemeterys and trenches. Now why were we doing this was Richard was and still is a history teacher at an all girls secondary school and he got to scout locations for history field trips for his school, so we were invited along for the day trip, early start saw us drive onto the eurostar train and the day began.

This is not a comphrensive tale of the battlefields and we were not there to revel in the carnage on both the battlefields but to visit and get a sense of the sacrifice that was bled into these locations and I know it's a cliche but these places have an atmosphere all to themselves and I believe history needs to be taught at school level and above to show the sacrifice of previous generations.

Some links to the actual conflicts  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Waterloo and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ypres

This is the Lion Mound on the battlefield site, 226 steps and it nearly fucking killed me, it's bloody steep, there is a great vieew from the top once you can breathe properly again but it's no bloody picnic on those bloody steps on the way back down either, there is a good visitors centre with lots of bits and pieces going on and lots to look at (well there was back then!)

Hougoumont Farm as it currently looks.

La Haye Saint beside a busy main road.

This is Tyne Cot cemetery in Ypres, very bright and a beautiful but very sad place, lots and lots of  names and graves.

I believe this is Langermarck which is a german cemetery and this is the location of a pillbox on the border of the cemetery, this cemetery was very sombre compared to the allied cemetery and this place has always stuck in my memory. One small plot about 15ft by 15ft full of poppies stated it had 17,000 bodies in it alone.

 
This is some actual original trench system we toured from WW1 that is now a museum.

Ypres town centre where we finished the day and had dinner before driving back to the euro star station where there may have been a little altercation concerning customs and comments (you can't take Ray anywhere). Ian had tried to kill us earlier that day when he took a wrong turn and went down a one way road but I digress as our memories fade (me and Ray have problems now remembering what we did last month) it was a grand day out that we never have done anything like it since even though we say we will.

I hope my information is correct but the memory fades but it should never about the important parts of history and friendship.

51 comments:

  1. Great photo's. I've never been to any of these sites, although my daughter visited Tyne Cot and the Trenches on a school trip a couple of years ago.

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  2. God, them steps!!, it was worse going down though, you'd meet someone going up and as they aren't that wide, you'd have to squeeze bellies or rub bums to get past while the lucky one held on to the handrail. I remember a rather chubby bloke we saw climbing the steps, going red, sweating like pig and swearing profusly, oh yeh, it was you!!

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  3. Just this week the last surviving WWI veteran in the U.S. was laid to rest. It's a bit odd that this conflict which loomed so large in cultural (if eclipsed by WWII) has jsut about slipped from living memory.

    I suppose that's already happened for our Civil War, but since that one all the other conflicts (Spanish-American War, Philipine Insurrection) have been of smaller historical importance.

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  4. Ypres really does have that atmosphere. I agree completely history is something we ought to be more aware of. There's a balance to be struck I think between respect and visceral sense. Seeing the trenches now and the rusty bullets is far too little to understand.

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  5. 226 steps. Did you count them and double-check on the way down?

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  6. @Alphabeta: No, I had to look it up!

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  7. I'm not gonna lie but that trench looks like a playground....

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  8. one of my favorite posts...ever :)

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  9. Good post. It's proper and important to think about the sacrifices past generation have made.

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  10. That would be a tour I would like to make. Even those 226 steps.

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  11. "La Fheile Padraig. An bhfuil tu meisce anois?"
    and all that jazz from a mick bluffing about the amount of Irish that he can speak/write.

    Some of my trips with gaming buddies over the years have been sublime. Its nice to see some of your old memories. Looks like a really great day trip.

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  12. The pic of the trenches actually makes me feel ill. I went through a WWI and WWII phase in my early teens and can picture much of what I read. The fact that they are still there and that you can walk them? makes me shudder.

    Pearl

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  13. Cool pics - thanks for sharing. I want to take a trip 'across the pond' one of these do and do something like that.

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  14. Man those steps look daunting!
    And the trenches are really cool!

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  15. I've been told that if you walk around to the other side, there's an elevator...8^0

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  16. Haunting.
    Thanks for the post.

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  17. Those right there are some damn good photos. I love me some history.

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  18. History is awesome. Not to mention outings with friends. And outings with friends touring history must be epic. :)

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  19. great pics..I´ll have to get along there myself sometime.
    Cheers
    Paul
    PS..I´ve been to charings cross...does that count??

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  20. @Lurker
    Bet you it went like this:

    226stepsx2(+1Duvel+1Leffe)= happy faced Lurker

    ;-)

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  21. Those are some amazing pictures! Those trenches are eerily beautiful. The cemetery is as well. I love to visit historical places, so I'm both happy you got to see all of this and also a bit jealous. And even from that view those stairs look crazy steep!

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  22. Oh and Happy Saint Patrick's Day to you too!

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  23. Wow those are some really nice pictures. Looks like a beautiful place. Happy St. Paddys day back at ya!

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  24. Great post. And those stairs. Yow.

    What did you have for dinner before heading home? And was it good?

    Thanks for the nice words yesterday. Tim's also Irish which means with regards to your opening sentence, I believe I will, thank you.

    Have a great day, Lurker.

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  25. Great shots and background infos

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  26. iam going to a st patricks day party today too. it slowly but steady surfaces in germany too :)

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  27. Happy St Pats Day to you too mate- I may be an Aussie but with my mother's maiden name of Maloney and my Father's being O'Grady, you can guess what our heritage is!

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  28. Hey Fran. I see you visited our beautifull country.
    About Waterloo; I hate it when every-one calls that farmcastle "HOUGOUMONT" while the real name is "AU GOUMONT". That's the name you will find there on the signs. ;-)
    For all who's interested in WWI, take a look at this site: http://www.wo1.be/eng/mainnav.html
    Here you can find almost everything about the Great War in that region.
    Back to your post. That are some great pictures you're showing. I almost jumped in my car to visit those places again.
    Thanks for sharing :-D

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  29. Waterloo ! Waterloo ! champ noir ! tragique plaine !

    Waterloo ! Waterloo ! morne et tragique plaine !

    Waterloo ! Waterloo ! champ maudit ! morne plaine !

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  30. The steps dude, if you climbed all those steps 1 a day im guessing that no more weight issues, The trenches look cool.

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  31. Lurker: Oh crap. That's what I meant to give you, the cakes. Okay, my bad. We'll just give the extra apple gum drops to Porky, since he's up to his eyeballs in rotten peaches.

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  32. Very informative post. I'd never seen a picture of real trenches like that before.

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  33. Happy Saint Patrick s Day
    also I want to visit the Lion Mound someday, it looks awesome.

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  34. Now those are some stairs very cool thanks.

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  35. Happy St. Patrick's day. I would like to give a go on the 226 steps. I bet the view is unique

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  36. 226 steps!!! I hope the view was worth it?
    Happy St Paddy's day!

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  37. Very intriguing journey, and it must have felt incredible to be standing on the site of such a battle. Sad too though... I really hope there will never be another need for a mass soldiers grave in Europe or anywhere else in the world for that matter.

    Happy St. Patrick's day to YOU as well, kind sir. I was born on this day, so it has a different meaning for me (Scottish / Norwegian ancestor) but I do celebrate it still.

    It took on a different meaning when I moved down here though. I found out where he chased all of your snakes to...

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  38. Waterlook looks ok, I guess.

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  39. I'm going to Waterloo one day just to conquer the steps.

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  40. I went there once and got screwed up over on the Allied right wing by Merbe-Braine and Braine-l'Alleud. Couldn't find any of that stuff you're showing on the main field. Also the guy in the bus wanted some amount of money that sounded like Song whan cawn frawn or something. I did get all through a Wellington HQ Museum in the town of Waterloo itself a ways to the north.

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  41. you have to respect the old dogs of war.

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  42. Ah, the classic Philo line.
    Any a yiz want a bit MORE Oirish in yeh?

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  43. This is an interesting bit of history

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  44. Nice photos, the trench is in surprisingly good condition.

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  45. I hope you got permission to use the Tyne Cot image as it's one of mine?
    Chrislo

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