DAY 49: REMEMBRANCE DAY – THE WARS

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I’m not in any way an advocate for war, but there’s no way to ignore the sacrifice of all those who’ve fought because they believed in freedom. Their suffering is an unimaginable thing for most of us.

“The mud. There are no good similes. Mud must be a Flemish word. Mud was invented here. Mudland must have been its name. The ground is the colour of steel. Over most of the plain there isn’t a trace of topsoil; only sand and clay. The Belgians call them ‘clyttes’, these fields, and the further you go towards the sea, the worse the clyttes become. In them, the water is reached by the plough at an average depth of eighteen inches. When it rains (which is almost constantly from early September through to March, except when it snows) the water rises at you out of the ground. It rises from your footprints-and an army marching over a field can cause a flood. In 1916, it was said that you ‘waded to the front’. Men and horses sank from sight. They drowned in mud. Their graves, it seemed, just dug themselves and pulled them down.”

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