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Forces War Records Blog

BELGIUM SOIL MAKES UP THE HEART OF FLANDERS FIELDS MEMORIAL GARDEN

Blogger: GemSen To help mark the centenary next year, soil from 70 World War One battlefields in Belgium has been placed at the heart of the Flanders Fields Memorial Garden.
 
Collected and packed into sand bags by Belgian schoolchildren, the ‘sacred soil’ arrived on the Belgian Navy frigate Louisa Marie on Friday 29 November and was then transferred over to British light cruiser, HMS Belfast. Loaded onto the gun carriage of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, the bags travelled along with a crucible of soil from all the battlefields. It was later escorted by mounted members of the Household Cavalry from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, and mounted officers from the Metropolitan Police, reported the BBC. More than 1,000 British and Belgian schoolchildren were involved in collecting 70 bags of soil from the battlefields this summer. The process of bringing the soil to the UK began on Armistice Day with a ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh. Another ceremony marked its procession through London to Wellington Barracks and the route passed Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, The Mall and Buckingham Palace. It was blessed in a ceremony at the Guards' Chapel at Wellington Barracks - near Buckingham Palace. With the sound of Jerusalem playing in the background, the youngest member of the Friends of the Guards Museum emptied a ceremonial casket of soil into the memorial garden - which will open to the public next year. The sandbags of soil were placed at the entrance of the Guards' Chapel, and later added to the garden on Saturday. Placed in the heart of the garden, the soil will sit near the inscribed words of John McCrae's famous poem, In Flanders' Fields.

Remembering lives lost Fought mostly by soldiers in trenches, World War I took over Europe from 1914 to 1919 and was a bloody war that resulted in huge losses of life seeing an estimated 10 million military deaths and another 20 million wounded. Next year, as part of the commemorations, the Government have planned various activities and services to mark the anniversaries of the First World War, with school children encouraged to visit battlefields and learn about the sacrifice of troops. A service at Westminster Abbey will be the main focus for the events, with a final candle to be extinguished at 11pm  – to mark the precise moment that Britain went to war with Germany. "Tangible demonstration of the bond between Britain and Belgium" The project, funded by The Guards Museum, with help from public donations and corporate sponsors, including a contribution from the Government of Flanders - described the £700,000 project as "unprecedented" and "historic". Museum curator Andrew Wallis told the BBC that the garden would stand as a "tangible demonstration of the bond between Britain and Belgium". Source: BBC Do you know enough about your WWI military ancestors? War touches many people’s lives. Is your family’s military history waiting to be discovered? Is there a war hero in your family waiting to be remembered? Did any members of your family get awarded medals for their actions in war? Perhaps they did, but you just haven’t found out about it yet…Why not search the Forces War Records site and take a look at the wealth of records and historic documents the company holds. Let us help you start, or continue your family history quest…
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