Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, August 26, 2013

World War I Sites in Brussels

If you are visiting Brussels, and have a little time for tourism, there are some interesting sites for the World War I student.

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The most impressive war monument in Brussels is this British Commonwealth War Graves memorial depicting Belgian and British soldiers standing side by side, built in appreciation of support given by Belgians to British prisoners of war. It is located at Place Poelaert.


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To the right of the massive commemorative arch at Cinquantenaire Park (inset) is the entrance to the fabulous Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. It covers Belgian military experience back to the Napoleonic Wars, but its Great War holdings are the stars of the show. Traveling pal Rachel Schweissinger is standing in the armaments section of the WWI hall; above is a Nieuport fighter on display in the aviation hall—one of many aircraft on display from the war. Plan on spending a half-day minimum here.
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Difficult to get to, but worth the effort, is the National Cemetery of Honor located at the former Tir National rifle range in the municipality of Schaerbeek. It is where executions were held during the war, the most famous being of Nurse Edith Cavell, who was shot here. While Edith's remains were sent home to Norwich, most of the other victims are buried on the site.

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There are a number of war-related monuments around Brussels. Here are three:
  • The National Infantry Monument (Covering WWI & WWII) is located near the Anglo-Belgian Memorial
  • The national tribute to the war's carrier pigeons is located near the city's old fish market area at St. Catherine Place, which is now a restaurant enclave.
  • Belgium's Unknown Soldier is buried at the foot of the Congress Column (Colonne des CongrĂ©s), the national monument of Belgium.
Photo Credits: Steve Miller, Tony Langley, and the New Old Contemptibles

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