Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Canterbury Tale (cont.) . . .

As described in the below piece "A Canterbury Tale" just a few posts down on July 14th, out of curiosity about a story presented at "More Canterbury Tales" by the Sagittarian, I went looking for the tomb of Sergeant Henry Nicholas of New Zealand who died shortly before the end of World War One. She just did a follow up piece today about this story, so to complement that information, here is just a little bit more from this end of the story in France. Sergeant Nicholas was awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's highest military honor, for bravery in action in Belgium in 1917 while still a Private. He was killed on October 23rd, 1918, in the village of Beaudignies, France, which is between Vertigneul, where he is buried, and Le Quesnoy, where there is a large monument to New Zealand's forces. This is the church in Beaudignies . . .
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The town hall, or "Mairie" of Beaudignies is built of red brick, which is typical in the region. The sign needs a little bit of a face lift . . .
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Sergeant Nicholas was killed near a bridge in Beaudignies which would have been over the Ecaillon somewhere not far from this current bridge . . .
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The Ecaillon, as you can see here, is little more than a small creek, but the Germans made a stand near here in the final days of the "Great" war, as they were being pushed back on all fronts, leading up to the Armistice. This place seems so peaceful today, hard to imagine the hell it must have been a little over 90 years ago.
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22 comments:

Rain said...

Hi Owen! Lovely photos. That church with the "silo" looking piece next to it is weird! :)

Btw, would you like to join me on A Walk In The Woods?

Owen said...

Hi Rain... thanks for the invite, just took a look at your new path through the woods... will be happy to stroll there from time to time ! As long as the trees are friendly ... :-D

The Sagittarian said...

Lovely photos Owen, and the field really is a green field in France...can't get that song outta my head now! I'm finding the whole exercise very interesting, and can't thank you enough for your personal touches by way of photos and prose. (And I don't mean that to sound rude!!)

Sixpence and a Blue Moon said...

What a lovely building! That sign is just perfect, love it just the way it is. The tree appears to be at perfect peace with its surroundings, and the stream of water is...refreshing, while the green green grass looks like the prefect place to take an afternoon nap.

Margaret Pangert said...

Yes, hard to think of this as a battlefield, and moreso that over a 1,000 troops from WW II (Allies) die everyday. Thanks to you and Saj for keeping some memories alive.

Faye Pekas said...

I totally love that old church. the colors in it are wonderful. Love the mossy look. Thanks for the history lesson :)

Steve said...

This whole story has been incredibly emotive.

Laurie said...

Thanks Owen. As ever, a great post - the colours are fantastic.
Laurie

SP said...

Hi Owen. I thought you hadn't posted for a while as nothing appeared in my followers feed from you but, for some reason, I was no longer listed as a follower of your blog! I've rectified it now... Hope you didn't think I'd gone off the Magic Lantern Show! Always a pleasure. Those old negatives in the last post are gorgeous too - I imagine Haiti is a photographer's dream?

the watercats said...

Nature has a great way of smoothing out the tragedies of the human race. Every ounce of land I'd bet has seen some terrible thing at some point in our specie's evolution.... Imagine trying to tell those poor, brave souls that in a hundred years time everything would be o.k there... the trees would sigh, the flowers would blossom in a quiet landscape, birds would announce the dawn, the sky would move...the same sky, the same land.... bless them...

Owen said...

Dearest Saj, Green Fields of France ; what a tune ! Just found this :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrQnnZJ68Xo

Am going to put it in the post... a very sobering memorial...

And of course I'm always happy to apply personal touches to any journalistic activity that may require them... ;-D

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Sixpence, afternoon naps in peaceful places are a little glimpse of paradise... few things in life are more agreeable... so true... thanks !

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Hi Margaret, Given that the last of those who lived and fought during the First World War have nearly all disappeared, I suppose those from WWII will be following... what a terrible first half of a century...

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Faye, you are very welcome indeed...

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Hey Steve, Well, thanks are due to Amanda... she started us down this particular path; but I'm always amazed at the stories that are waiting to be told, when one digs a little bit...

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Hi Laurie ! Thanks ! Was reading your latest posts last night, but haven't finished yet, want to come back and read more slowly, but incredible stories there... as usual from your good self...

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Hi SP, glad to see you, always a pleasure whenever you can make it... thanks so much for signing up again to follow, don't know what could have happened, gremlins in cyberspace... See you soon, I need to get back over to your place too... am working still this week, then vacation !!!!

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Hey you Cats ! Thank goodness for nature's ability to heal...

And CONGRATULATIONS on the goings on over at your place, that's just fantabulous !
Your Fans in France :-D

TechnoBabe said...

The church is fascinating. I love love love to see and especially be near such architecture and history in buildings like this. Really great post.

Dedene said...

The immediacy of history is something that always amazes me here in France.

Roxana said...

and i think about this, i don't know why - perhaps because love is the only thing one can think of in front of death?

Ma Lou je coucherai ce soir dans les tranchées
Qui près de nos canon ont été piochées
C'est à douze kilomètres d'ici que sont
Ces trous où dans mon manteau couleur d'horizon
Je descendrai tandis qu'éclatant les marmites
Pour y vivre parmi nos soldats troglodytes
Les trains s'arrêteraient à Mourmelon le Petit
Je suis arrivé gai comme j'étais parti
Nous irons tout à l'heure à notre batterie
En ce moment je suis parmi l'infanterie
Il siffle des obus dans le ciel gris du nord
Personne cependant n'envisage la mort

Et nous vivrons ainsi sur les premières lignes
J'y chanterai tes bras comme les cols des cygnes
J'y chanterai tes seins d'une déesse dignes
Le lilas va fleurir Je chanterai tes yeux
où danse tout un choeur d'angelots gracieux
Le lilas va fleurir ô printemps sérieux
Mon coeur flambe pour toi comme une cathédrale
Et de l'immense amour sonne la générale
Pauvre coeur mon amour Daigne écouter le râle
Qui monte de ma vie à ta grande beauté
Je t'envoie un obus plein de fidélité
Et que t'atteigne ô Lou mon baiser éclaté.

Apollinaire

Owen said...

Roxana, thanks so much for reminding me of Apollinaire's poems... it's been a little while since I read any. If I recall correctly, he was wounded, but might have recovered, had it not been for the Spanish Flu which did him in, dying two days before the War ended... what a shame... Robert Service is perhaps my favorite poet from that period...

Love was perhaps a scarce phenomenon in 1918 or 1919, with a whole generation of widows or bereaved lovers after all the hundreds of thousands of men carried off by the tsunami of the war...

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Hi Dedene, for sure, that's one reason I love living here...

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Techno B., thanks a million, if even one person loves what's going on here, then I'm in seventh heaven...

Janie said...

It is hard to imagine the horror of war in such a beautiful place. Let us hope humans have finally risen above such things. (Maybe overly optimistic, but one must at least hope.)

dusty price said...

hello Owen,
I chanced across your wonderful site a few months ago quite by accident and I was immediately captivated by your photography, your writing, and - somewhat jealously - your story of resettling in France. I always intend to leave a comment and somehow never do, but this time ...
The Green Fields of France particularly stopped me and I had to watch it two times. I am going to blatantly steal it from you to use in my WWI unit at school this year and also I am going to present pats of your marvelous musings to my class to show them the absolute fun and good that can come from photography and prose put together 'just so.'
Thank you for all your wonderful work which you share so willingly and beautifully. When i am not grading papers and preparing lesson plans to create more papers to grade, I intend to send additions for your perfect home and perfect transportation piece. Until then, blog on and share the world through your eyes with all of us.

Snowbrush said...

I loved the video.

Snowbrush said...

Janie "Let us hope humans have finally risen above such things. (Maybe overly optimistic, but one must at least hope.)"

I am puzzled here, Janie. I don't understand why you think that believing something which is so obviously untrue is considered is a "must." Even as I write this, untold numbers are dying as a result of one war or another, and so has it ever been. To suggest that it is necessary to believe that we have risen above such things despite every evidence that we have not is beyond me. Respectfully.

Peter said...

The contrast with the peaceful photos of a little village and a creek and the terrifying video!

Margaret Pangert said...

God, Owen that was beautiful. Beautiful and so poignant. No one does mourning like the Irish. I guess because they've had so much of it. The end was so moving with the paper poppies that matched the poppy field earlier.

Owen said...

Peter, incredible contrast indeed, a peaceful village today, but the military cemeteries just up the road hint of past horrors...

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Snowbrush, thanks, and I often wonder whether there are grounds to entertain "hope" for our species... as much as I want to believe intelligence can triumph over madness, one doesn't have to look very far to see rampant evidence of madness afoot... we are not out of the jungle yet...

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Dear Dusty,
I thank you profoundly for this extremely kind comment ! Really !

The video came from YouTube, so there is no "blatant" stealing of that, shucks, I "borrowed" it myself from YouTube. And if you are interested in using other material from my humble little blog in an educational setting... I'd be honored...

If you intend to post any of it to another website, I'd really appreciate if if you could communicate the address used to me at some point... just so I could see what the setting or context is. But if it is for educational purposes and non-profit... be my guest... thanks again for these very kind words ! I'm blushing...

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Dear Janie, I join you in holding up a candle of hope... I don't want to give in to pessimism. Although, as I said to Snowbrush, I do have my doubts at times... so many places are just awash in weapons and crazy people too ready to use them...