Danny Breslin

How it is…

Bloody Hooge Crater!

Let me take you back to Belgium and continue the story of my pilgrimage. We were up bright and early, well before they finished serving breakfast anyway, and hit the road. Again, out of the kindness of my heart, I offered to drive but was met with a perfectly synchronised chorus: “NO!” Ah, suit youselves.

We left Ieper and I must admit I was sorry to leave. It’s a nice little town and the people are friendly, I could live there and be quite a happy little chap. We journeyed through unremarkable countryside that had once been churned to mud and pockmarked with shell holes, scarred with barbed wire and soaked with the blood of so many; it was hard to picture the scene on that morning with the sun sitting so warm in a clear blue sky.

We were heading for the aptly named Hooge Crater, a First World War museum and cemetery. I said that after they took the top off the Messines Ridge they should have called it the bloody hooge crater. Afterall, with the amount of explosives they used the crater would be BLOODY HUGE! The museum is something you must see if you visit the area. There are exhibits showing life in the trenches, weapons, uniforms and other memorabilia and film footage shot at the time. I couldn’t help thinking about how easy life is for us now, how would I have coped without a warm bed and a tv? How would I have coped with not having my home comforts, sitting shivering in a muddy trench with my clothes and feet soaking wet?

DSC00801

There was a soundtrack playing in the background, old songs from that era. Suddenly one came on that I recognised: some bloke singing “Keep right on to the end of the road,” a song that has been adopted by the supporters of a certain football club located just a couple of miles away from my team. That was it, I turned to my uncle who had heard it and was already chuckling, expecting me to react: “I’m off, is there anywhere I can go without them lot getting on my sodding nerves with their stupid song?” Fortunately I had reached the end of the museum tour and the exit door was there, I left in a huff.

“What’s wrong with him?” My sister asked.

“What isn’t?” replied my uncle.

 

No wonder the crater was so hooge!

No wonder the crater was so hooge!

 

Outside the museum was the biggest shell I have ever seen, which is not difficult really because I haven’t seen many, but you will see it’s scale in the photo above, stood next to the distinguished looking gentleman who has the misfortune of being my uncle, although he maintains… “it could have been worse, I could have been your aunt.” We sat and had some lunch on the terrace of the museum’s cafe, before heading across the road to the cemetery there. After that we bundled back into the car and set off into the wilds of Belgium heading for Tyne Cot, alas another story for another day.

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December 11, 2012 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. What a cool place to visit! And I think you’re right on – it’s hard to go to those places so many years after and imagine what it once was. I just posted about my first visit to Pearl Harbor last week and felt the same way. Couldn’t quite imagine torpedoes falling from the sky when it was so warm and sunny out. But those places still do maintain an aura from the events that took place there. Great post!

    Comment by Audrey | December 11, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks Audrey. I’d love to visit Hawaii some day. These places must retain some sort of vibration left over from traumatic events, their ghosts probably still march up those roads we drove on.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | December 11, 2012 | Reply

  2. When I first read about this years ago I was astounded. On The History Channel they had a program about this battle and the pictures of devastation were frightening. Then seeing pictures of the place before the explosions and what it is like now… its more like a crater than ridge. The only thing I know that exceeds this that was not nuclear was the last offensive barrage by the Russians in WWII. It changed weather patterns and created energy waves that turned on lights (which had no power at the time) up to 15 miles away…. if mankind could only utilize this creation for the betterment of humankind where would we be? Great post and you should’ve, as the collies say, watered the speaker with that song coming out of it… snicker….

    Comment by colliesofthemeadow | December 14, 2012 | Reply

  3. Ooops, forgot to write that hearing that anthem of Brimingham City must’ve really stunk!!!

    Comment by colliesofthemeadow | December 14, 2012 | Reply

    • It’s the only one they’ve got apart from “S*** on the Villa”, it’s quite sad and pathetic really, but when you’ve heard it the first two hundred times you get sort of sick of it.

      Comment by Danny Breslin | December 15, 2012 | Reply


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