Sunday morning we all get dressed in our WW1 Nurses and VAD’s uniforms. I have to say we do look impressive. We board the minibus and make our way to Talbot House in nearby Poperinge. As we make our way we are getting some strange looks from passing motorists, we even get a wave from a bewildered young girl, we wave back. I guess it’s not everyday that a minibus full of WW1 Nurses passes you by.
We arrive at Talbot House and are given a very warm welcome. They have kindly laid on a wonderful breakfast feast for us, followed by a tour of the house. A totally fascinating place. Talbot House, or Toc H as it is known, played a really big part in boosting morale of the soldiers during the war.
After some photographs for Talbot House, and a few for their guests, we make our way to Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery to pay our respects to Nellie Spindler. Nellie was a member of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service. In August 1917, during the first three weeks of the Third Battle of Ypres Nellie served as a nurse with 44th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) at Brandhoek, five kilometres east of Poperinge. On 21st August 1917 the CCS at Brandhoek was hit by German artillery shells. Five nurses including Nellie were concussed by the explosions. Nellie died later from an injury to her chest. Her body was brought to the cemetery at Lijssenthoek for burial. Over one hundred officers, four generals and the Surgeon-General attended the funeral
It was very surreal to walk through the Cemetery and see all the walkers dressed in their uniforms. Beverley and Jennifer laid a posy for Nellie and Karen read In Flanders Field. It was beautiful.
Due to the warm weather and the fact we wanted to keep our uniforms in pristine condition for the ceremony at The Menin Gate this evening, we all changed into our walking kit and Wenches In Trenches T-Shirts for the next part of our day.
Dropped off quite a distance from Ypres we made our way along the roadside that 100 years ago the soldiers walked before us. Our guide stopped at several places along the way to tell us little snippets of information about the area.
One of the small cemeteries that we stopped at was Red Farm Cemetery, this was created for the dressing station at Red Farm. It contains 42 UK and 17 unknown soldiers. Also buried here are 3 Belgian civilians.
Our next stop was Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, this was exceptional in the care of those buried here in that if men of the same unit were killed about the same time they have been buried next to each other. There is also a high proportion of Territorial burials here, in particular Lancashire Territorials. One of England’s Soldier Poets Harold Parry is buried here and we took some time to pay our respects to him by reading one of his poems over his grave. It was a very emotional experience. After a quick lunch break we continued with the last few km of our walk. Arriving at The Ariane Hotel in Ypres, very tired and very pleased that we had reached our destination. A nice cold drink and a rest now before the ceremony at The Menin Gate this evening.
( all images in this post courtesy of Beverly Gall )