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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Albertina Memorials of Flanders

At Essex Farm Cemetery, North of Ypres

A series of diamond-shaped stone markers known as "Albertina Memorials" was erected in Flanders during 1984 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of King Albert I and the 70th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Each of the two dozen markers note a significant event during the course of the war. Their designs are similar with each bearing the monogram of the king and the shield of the province of West Flanders.  The markers are confined to Western Belgium and — unlike our example above — mostly emphasize Belgian accomplishments.

Belgian battlefields along the Yser and north of Ypres are well represented, but there are some surprising selections. Jardin Marie-José School in Wulveringem was a section of the "queen's schools" created by Queen Elisabeth for the children of families living in or near the front, received an Albertina, as did  L’Océan Military Hospital where Flemish painter and soldier Joseph, who designed the Belgian tombstones seen in their military cemeteries, died. 

One of the Display Options

Stumbling across one of the Albertinas is a pleasant surprise for battlefield visitors, but they are notoriously sometimes  hard to spot. The enterprising souls at "French Battlefields"  have adapted Google Maps to provide a helpful virtual guide to the markers. It includes a comprehensive list of the memorials, a map to help locate the markers precisely, and a pop-up that describes the event commemorated.

Access the Virtual tour at:


  1. I thought that John McCrae, author of the poem "In Flanders Fields" died in January, 1918. Is the plague above celebrating a different individual or the publication of the poem?

    1. Hi Marc,

      May 3, 1915 is day McCrae started to write the poem. We will be running a feature on the 100th anniversary on how that came about.