Saturday, February 18, 2012

Abbaye de Vauclair . . .

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One day this past November we set out for an afternoon in an area known as the Chemin des Dames, to the northeast of the city of Soissons, which was heavily fought over during World War One. The road in question was named "le Chemin des Dames" because it was built in the 1780's at the request of the daughters of Louis XV, who were called "Mesdames", who wanted a better road to get to the Chateau de la Bove at Bouconville than the muddy tracks that existed previously.
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Along the Chemin des Dames there are fourteen French military cemeteries, and ten German cemeteries. These first two photos show one of the German cemeteries near the western end of that historic road.
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Monuments of various sorts abound in the area...
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On a stone wall around the farm at Hurtebise two plaques can be seen, the first commemorating events there in WWI, the second for a battle in May 1940. Many ghosts reside there...
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Just north of the Chemin des Dames lie the ruins of the Abbey of Vauclair, which was destroyed by artillery fire during WWI. The ruins now lie quietly, off the beaten track, another testimonial, as if any were needed, to the idiocy of war.
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Lichen on Abbey stone here seemed to be forming a heart...
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13 comments:

the fly in the web said...

Yes, 'the idiocy of war'...we all know it to be so, but our masters do not.
This could be because they will not be fighting, just despatching the children of the poor to do their dirty work and to take the damage.

Superb photographs....which left me feeling sad. As they should.

Alistair said...

Another wonderful, poignant and thought provoking set Owen. War is misery and idiocy and coutless other descriptions. Thankfully there are those who survive our histories to live and love anew.

Thanks.

Andrew said...

Owen many thanks for sharing these images.. It's only sites like these that can make the mind comprehend the numbers slaughtered in WW1

Alistair said...

It seems to me too that wars fought with God's apparent approval have always been exceedingly rough on His houses.

Steve said...

Makes you see how both how ridiculous and noble mankind can be all at the same time.

Catherine said...

another great sequence of weathered stone....

Peter Olson said...

I believe that the lichen heart on the abbey stone resumes perfectly your (shared) feelings about all this!

Stickup Artist said...

These images are heartbreakingly chilling... I think you are brave to visit, document and thoughtfully review such places.

AL said...

What a wonderful collection of images Owen...stunning and sad in many ways, but also beautiful.

louciao said...

As a North American citizen it's hard for me to imagine walking through ancient ruins as if out for a walk in the park. Even in their destitution and destruction they retain such haunting beauty; to say nothing of the intricate textures, manmade and natural, to be discovered therein. The soldier's crosses leave me with a feeling of sadness and futility, in spite of the glorious greeness of the well-manicured grass. The heart-shaped lichen resembles the sorrow that covers one's heart when contemplating why such places--soldiers' graveyards, ruins of glory--exist.
Be well.

Nevine said...

Beautiful and quiet and solemn, these photos. I sat with every one of them for a moment, and listened for what it had to say. I heard no words, but I heard everything. Sometimes more is spoken in silence than in words.

Nevine

Pat Tillett said...

LOVE love love those old ruins... Nothing even remotely close to that where I love...

Virginia said...

THis is a moving series Owen. I hope perhaps you'll take me there some day.
V