|A rainbow, a cemetery and a child|
This week I revisited that area of Flanders as part of a family jaunt to the Christmas Markets in Germany. It somehow seemed apt as a reminder of what the season is supposed to be all about, amid the plastic commercialisation of much of it. There are no neon signs or expensive video games on the windswept plains of Belgium where the dying was done, nor even much space for it in the market town of Ypres, for so long the centre of the carnage, and usually the first venue incoming soldiers would see as they were marshalled ready to head out to the front line.
|Ypres Market Square - the spire used regularly as a target for German artillery|
Marshalled with the 2nd Wilts Regiment he was among the first sent to the front, and knew nothing of the cataclysm to come. On October 24th he was reported missing, his position having been overrun by German troops. He spent the next four years in a prison camp in central Germany, presumably only realising the scale of what he had been spared by arriving prisoners, fresh from the human meat grinder of the war.
|Tyne Cot cemetery. A Jewish tradition of stones on headstones, accompanied by a gentile's tribute|
|The field where Pte Underwood was taken prisoner,1914|
|Cologne Christmas Market|