Lest we forget – Remembrance Day

This is Wieltje Farm Cemetery in Belgium – literally the corner of a foreign field – which we visited in 2017. It is close to Ypres.

Wieltje Farm Cemetery From Access Path

As you can see from the tractor marks it is in the middle of a working farm but a grass pathway round the side of a house leads to it, so you don’t get your feet muddy.

Wieltje Farm Cemetery, Flanders, Belgium

The view from the opposite end of the cemetery is below.

Wieltje Farm Cemetery, Graves

Leith Hall, Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Leith Hall, Aberdeenshire

It’s months since we visited Aberdeenshire, but it’s only now that I’m getting around to blogging about our visit to Leith Hall near Kennethmont. The oldest part of the building dates from 1650, but it has been added on to over the centuries. Like many such grand houses it was made into a temporary Red Cross hospital during World War 1.

Leith Hall  hospital plaque, Aberdeenshire

In 1945 Leith Hall was presented to the National Trust for Scotland. As you can see from the photo below it’s a good place to have a snack or some ice-cream.

Leith Hall , Aberdeenshire, Scotland

This house apparently has quite a reputation for being haunted and according to Wiki the writer Elizabeth Byrd and her husband rented 16 rooms in Leith Hall in the 1960s and she later wrote about her paranormal experiences there! The hall is set in a 286 acre estate.

In 1745 the then owner of the hall fought on the Jacobite side, below are some relics of the time.

Leith Hall,Jacobite relics, Aberdeenshire

Strangely there’s a scarf which apparently belonged to Napoleon on show, nice scarf but the photo is blurry as you can see.

Leith Hall , Napoleon's scarf

It’s the gardens that impressed me most though. We had a lovely afternoon here last August on what was a beautiful day, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Aberdeenshire area. This place isn’t very far from Balmoral, but we decided to leave that for another trip. I sort of wish we had gone then as the Queen was there at the time – for the last time.

Leith Hall  garden, Aberdeenshire

Leith Hall  garden, Aberdeenshire

Leith Hall  garden, Aberdeenshire

Leith Hall  Garden, Aberdeenshire

Lest We Forget

We won’t ever forget, but when we were in Knaresborough, Yorkshire for a few days last week they were just starting to get the Remembrance Day displays set up. I was surprised to see purple poppies around a tree, so had to take a closer look. Apparently they’re to commemorate the animals that have died in war. Particularly horses in World War 1, but dogs and birds also did their bit for the war efforts – not that they could have refused.

purple poppies, Knaresborough, Yorkshire

As you can see the soldier silhouettes in the photo below hadn’t yet been placed properly when we were there. If you look carefully at the fence you can see the purple silhouette of a dog.

Knaresborough Castle, Yorkshire

Marwick Head, Orkney, Scotland

We wanted to revisit the cliffs at Marwick Head, especially as it was such a stunningly clear and bright day weather-wise. The cliffs are full of nesting seabirds which you should be able to see if you click on the photo to enlarge.

Marwick Head

The photo below is of Marwick Bay with the island of Hoy in the background. Unfortunately we didn’t go to Hoy because the museum we wanted to visit was closed for refurbishment. Orkney was very busy during both World Wars as a strategic defence guarding access to the North Atlantic and the Home Fleet’s base in adjacent Scapa Flow.

Marwick Bay and Hoy ,Marwick Head

We were there at the right time for the Thrift flowers though. They bloom all around the cliffs.

Marwick Head, Thrift flowers, Orkney, Scotland

Marwick Head cliffs, Orkney

As you can see below there’s a massive tower at the top of the cliffs. It’s a memorial to Lord Kitchener, he drowned in the sea just off Marwick Head when the ship he was on – HMS Hampshire – hit a mine during World War 1, in 1916. You can read about it here. He was one of 737 who died when the ship went down. It does seem like some sort of payback for all the young men that he sent to their death via his ‘Your Country Needs You’ posters.

Marwick Head,Kitchener Memorial

Marwick Head , Orkney, Scotland

Apparently the next landfall from here is North America!

Marwick Head, Orkney, Scotland

I turned around and took the photo below from Marwick Head looking inland, just to let you see what the scenery is like. Orkney is definitely different from mainland Scotland, some people love the gentle looking hillocks, and certainly a lot of incomers have moved there from elsewhere but I don’t think I could ever live there for too long as I really miss trees. It’s a strange barren landscape that has no trees. There are a few dotted around in sheltered spots but they are almost all field maples/sycamores, they are probably the only ones that will survive the fierce winds.

Orkney, from Marwick Head

There are loads of rabbits in this area, with rabbit holes all over the place, which makes it qute dangerous as you certainly don’t want to catch your foot in one and take a header over the cliff! There are notices around telling you not to feed the rabbits as they are a menace, but there were dogs in the vicinity so they didn’t hang about for long when we were there – hence no bunny photos.

fromMarwick Head , Orkney, Scotland

Lest We Forget – Armistice Day

For Armistice Day this year I thought you might be interested to read the blogpost that Jack @ A Son of the Rock wrote about our visit to Essex Farm, Ypres, Flanders a few years ago. This was where Lt Col John McCrae wrote the poem In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres (Ieper,) Flanders

Essex Farm Cemetery is located on the banks of the Ypres-Yser canal by the site of the Advanced Dressing Station where Lt Col John McCrae was serving as a medical officer when he wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” I have blogged about him previously in connection with the McCrae Memorial at Eilean Donan Castle in Lochalsh, Scotland.

The cemetery contains more than 1,000 graves. Unusually for a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery its Cross of Sacrifice is located right at the entrance:-

Essex Farm Cemetery Ypres, Cross of Sacrifice

Graves from northwest:-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From southeast. Note Yorkshire Memorial on the canal bank:-

More Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From northeast:-

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Graves

From south. Again note Yorkshire Memorial (which I shall come back to):-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from Yorkshire Memorial:-

View of Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from north, Yorkshire Memorial to left:-
Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

A tree trunk has grown round the gravestone of Private J MacPherson, Seaforth Highlanders, who died on 5/7/1917, aged 33:-

Commonwealth War Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Symbolic of the fact they fought and died over the same ground the cemetery holds a German grave, Franz Heger, RIR, 238, 7/8/1916:-

German Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Grave of Rifleman V J Strudwick, The Rifle Brigade, 14/1/1916, aged 15, said to be the youngest British Empire casualty of the Great War. (There may be some doubt about this.) It is nevertheless a focus for remembrance:-

Youngest Casualty, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

John McCrae Commemoration stone. Written in four languages, French, Flemish, English and German, with the poem itself also inscribed on the memorial along with a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript:-

John McCrae Commemoration, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

The bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery where John McCrae worked as a medic:-

Bunkers at  Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunker interior:-

Interior of Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Another bunker interior:-

Another Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunkers, looking back up to Essex Farm Cemetery grounds:-

Bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Information board with a photograph of how the bunkers appeared during the war:-

Information Board Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Remembrance Sunday

Today’s post is a guest one from A Son of the Rock (Jack).

Poelcapelle War Cemetery, Flanders, Belgium

Poelcapelle is today spelled Poelkapelle. The village is a few miles north-east of Ypres (Ieper.) The British War Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) is by the N313 road from Bruges (Brugge) to Ypres.

Poelcapelle War Cemetery,  Belgium

I’ve been to Tyne Cot but nevertheless still gasped when I entered Poelcapelle Cemetery. There are nearly 7,500 burials here, the vast majority, 6,230, of which are “Known unto God”.

View of interior from entrance:-

Interior of Poelcapelle War Cemetery


Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Some of the unidentified soldiers of the Great War:-

War Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Lines of graves:-

Lines of Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance:-

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Memorial to some of those whose earlier graves were destroyed in later battles:-

Memorial Stone, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

As usual the graves are beautifully kept. A Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God and Private F J Patten, Hampshire Regiment, 4/10/17, aged 21:-

Planting, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Two Soldiers of the Great War:-

More Planting, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

There is one World War 2 grave at Poelcapelle. Private R E Mills, Royal Berkshire Regiment, 30/5/1940, aged 19:

WW 2 Grave, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance:-

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance Closer View

Enduring Eye – Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition Exhibition

Enduring Eye – is an exhibition at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. It’s about Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition and has been on since June but closes in a couple of weeks, we just got around to visiting it a couple of days ago. If you’re near Edinburgh and you’re interested in explorers and the Antarctic then you might find it interesting.

The photographs are amazingly clear and there’s even some film footage of Endurance breaking up as she was crushed by the ice. The expedition was from 1914 to 1917 and of course when they did get back from being marooned on Elephant Island for months the men had a lot of news to catch up with, World War 1 had barely started when they left Blighty.

You can see a lot of Frank Hurley‘s Endurance photographs here. He was an Australian and he went on to become a war photographer and took many of the iconic images of World War 1.

There are some artifacts on display too, but it’s really the photographs that are most interesting. You can see more photos here, mainly of the inside of the ship, showing what it was like for the men.