“On Roads Muddy and Gray”: The Passchendaele Centenary

The quote in the title comes from a poem written by Alexander Sinclair, a Driver with the Canadian Field Artillery. Sinclair fought at Passchendaele with the Canadian Corps in November 1917, when the battle was winding down. But Passchendaele, a gigantic battle with hundreds of thousands of casualties, began much earlier than the official Canadian centenary.  Next week, the centenary of the beginning of the  battle will be celebrated on 31 July.  Continue reading ““On Roads Muddy and Gray”: The Passchendaele Centenary”

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“The Dead Marshes”: The Post-War Landscape of France and Flanders

In the second book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Two Towers”, Frodo and Gollum pass through the Dead Marshes where, “The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy milky surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers.”. The author of the trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien later attributed his marsh landscape to the fields of Northern France after the Somme, where he had fought as a second lieutenant with the Lancashire Fusiliers.  Continue reading ““The Dead Marshes”: The Post-War Landscape of France and Flanders”