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Remembered Today:

Covid & unvisited battlefields: Does it matter?


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As a regular battlefield visitor, yes it selfishly matters to me that I have been missing the opportunity to walk/cycle those fields, visit those cemeteries, to more readily detach myself from the modern world and immerse myself in the history. And presumably the same applies to many of the readers/contributors to this forum.

 

The providers of the infrastructure that supports the visitor (accommodation, food, museums/visitor centres, guiding, transport) will obviously have missed their customers and the associated income. I can imagine that some commercial services will no longer be there after the dust has settled.

 

Hopefully the CWGC work carries on in much the same way - indeed their maintenance staff may have been the only visitors to many of the cemeteries during the various lockdowns. The silent cities will have been that little bit quieter.

 

The soldiers themselves don't care - nor perhaps the majority of their descendants......assuming it is merely a blip, a 1-2- year pause in the cycle of remembrance.

 

As long as the flame is rekindled once Covid has faded into the background, will remembrance have suffered in any meaningful way?

 

The area that saddens me the most is.........the school children.

Thousands of them will have missed out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for 99% of them) to visit the battlefields and have that small seed of remembrance and respect  be more fruitfully embedded in their early years that would perhaps forever provide a key reference for their later lives.

They probably won't give much thought to that particular missed opportunity.  You don't typically miss something you never experienced.

 

On a more 'positive' note, their and our collective Covid experience may be the nearest equivalent in our lifetimes - to what it is like when society and everyone's lives get turned upside down, when your future feels less certain, when the prospect of death for you or your loved ones suddenly looms larger.

 

Hopefully we will all take life less for granted - and more readily reflect that our predecessors of not-that-long-ago went through something similar if not much worse.

 

Interested to read any related thoughts

 

David

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Expressed very well IMHO. I was due to go to the WF next week but the tour company sensibly cancelled. Contacts in Belgium have said it is best to stay away just now although things are opening up there. We will be back though.

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Hi,

 

Well said, it's slightly different  for those of us who live at the heart of the battlefield. Of course we miss the visitors, it's difficult for many small business but we are helped financially. Not talking about the business aspect, all the sites, memorials and cemeteries are still there with no visitors, probably empty as never seen before. Driving or cycling in the Somme I see them every day , as I did before Covid but they are appear to me different: they are more majestuous, solemn and their presence is in a way stronger. Of course they were already before but this reveals more the impact and the strentgh of them: they are eternal and unchanging unlike us, humans, who are not especially in the current situation. 

 

So I do think that people will be able to feel it once they'll be back, it would be interesting to have the reviews of the regular visitors.

Sly

 

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1 hour ago, Sly said:

So I do think that people will be able to feel it once they'll be back

 and I hope to be back to our place very soon Sly.  I hope not to find any tigers in our garden - the grass will be very tall by now!

 

Reg

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Regarding children: Karen Cripps of the University of Winchester has written this article about the value of school trips. She focused primarily on overnight nature trips within the UK, but I think the takeaways can be applied to battlefield trips as well.

 

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Beyond a child’s development, school trips bring social benefits too. A few days away together in a natural setting can be a great leveller. Classroom cliques and pressures dissipate when children – regardless of background or ability – have to work together...

 

Finally, outdoor experiences can also help to foster an emotional bond with nature and shape pro-environmental attitudes. Through residential school trips, UK pupils can discover areas they might not otherwise visit, and might perhaps, come to love and thereby wish to conserve and protect.

 

I wonder if the pandemic has led more people to research their relatives who served in the war, since so much can now be done from home. This might lead to an interest in visiting battlefields later. Speaking for myself, I doubt I would be on this forum if it were not for the pandemic.

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10 hours ago, knittinganddeath said:

Regarding children: Karen Cripps of the University of Winchester has written this article about the value of school trips. She focused primarily on overnight nature trips within the UK, but I think the takeaways can be applied to battlefield trips as well.

 

 

I wonder if the pandemic has led more people to research their relatives who served in the war, since so much can now be done from home. This might lead to an interest in visiting battlefields later. Speaking for myself, I doubt I would be on this forum if it were not for the pandemic.

 

Yup, that rationale about the longer term impact of residential school trips chimes with my hope. Today's society stands on the shoulders of our ancestors, and their history and sacrifice (not just the powerful lessons of WW1) deserves to be remembered.

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Some interesting thoughts here. 

I've read a lot about how the people of the Ypres Salient have been touring the cemeteries to lay crosses in name of families who had to cancel their trip and it is nice to see how at least this little bit of remembrance is there. But for the rest you are all right in saying is right. What I found interesting are the huge date gaps in the visitors books in the various cemeteries, proving that there were so little visitors over the last one and a half year. 

the cafés and bars are open again in Belgium and some of the smaller museums are open on the WE. two weeks ago we were in Ypres and we passed Hill 62 . Terrace was full of people, but one guesses they were the regulars, just looking for a place to have a drink. 

 

I'm going back to Ypres on the 18th, guiding my class through a visit of the Salient, I'll see if things have changed for the better with the next deconfinement plan starting on the  9th June. 

 

M.

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latest information states visitors having to quarantine on arrival in France, so I suspect there will be longer gaps in the books.

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On 27/05/2021 at 13:49, chaz said:

latest information states visitors having to quarantine on arrival in France, so I suspect there will be longer gaps in the books.

Yes, no non essential travel and 7 days quarantine once there. Germany has also imposed 14 days quarantine for visitors from the UK, and Austria will ban direct flights from UK from 1st June. I suspect 2021 will be almost as bad as 2020 regarding visiting. Link with more information here.... LINK

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bit of an update re: visiting France....  LINK

 

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Vaccinated visitors from “orange” countries – including the United States and Britain – will no longer need to quarantine on arrival and will no longer have to justify the reasons for their trip to France. They will, however, be asked for a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours or a negative antigen test of no more than 48 hours.

 

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8 hours ago, slick63 said:

Bit of an update re: visiting France....  LINK

 

 

But, at the moment, you do need a PCR test certificate (negative) less than 72 hours old, a vaccination certificate, and an attestation that you download from a website. I got mine from my local Automobile Club so possible in Britain from the AA or RAC in which you swear 'on your honour' that you don't feel ill with any COVID symptoms! it doesn't put it like that, but that's what it means.

Having got that lot no one checks anything at all (except perhaps at Calais). I have just driven the entire length of France, i.e. today, and not had any hint of any check. A friend caught the TGV from Luxembourg to Sete last week, and again no checks at all.

Of course, it may all change again in a week or two.

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