November 11th 1918 marked the end of the First World War, but the beginning of a huge clear-up of a totally desolated region. This reblog of a post I wrote a couple of years ago for my other blog tells the story of the reconstruction of Flanders
For four long years, Flanders Fields was the scene of unprecedented carnage. On November 11th 1918, peace was declared. It was just the start of amazing scenes of reconstruction and human fortitude. This post is based on an article I wrote for a Belgian newspaper a few years ago.
For most of the First World War, Allied and German forces were involved in trench warfare along the Western Front. This bloody battlefield stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier with France. Despite the efforts of both sides, it remained essentially unchanged for the duration of the war.
In Flanders the Front Line extended from Nieuwpoort on the coast, along the banks of the previously picturesque River Ijzer, past Diksmuide, around the medieval town of Ieper, and past Mesen to the French border. Its width varied between two and ten kilometres. On a clear day, a Belgian soldier…
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