“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”

Returning to Vimy: The Vimy Pilgrimage and the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial

At the end of the First World War in 1919, the eyes of the Canadian government turned from funding a foreign war to commemorating the lives lost on the Western Front during the last 5 years there.  The Canadian Battlefield Monuments Commission was formed with the express purpose of choosing sites for war monuments, selecting the monuments and overseeing their completion. By 1921, it had been decided that instead of multiple large monuments at Canadian battlefields across France, there would be one single large one at Vimy Ridge, the site of Canada’s first resounding wartime victory fought in 1917. The design chosen was submitted by the Canadian sculptor Walter Allward. Continue reading “Returning to Vimy: The Vimy Pilgrimage and the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial”