Any of the names above are appropriate for the five battles that converged on this small village in Belgium during WWI. Within the five major battles there were twenty zones that could have demanded their own place in history.
The battlefield, that is now mostly farms, only covered 12 kilometers from East to West and 9 kilometers from North to South. War raged from 1914-1918. The first picture below shows the flow of the battles. Five years and 500,000 dead equated to 4,630 dead per kilometer.
Nearly, 80,000 German and 34,000 Allied soldiers are missing in the Flanders area. Bodies are routinely being discovered as the towns have expanded and excavated previously unknown burial sites. Casualties of the battle are happening today as armament is mishandled by souvenir hunters.
Boston's association with Flanders was not solely about war and death. Robert Vonnoh, of Boston, painted Flanders in 1890. His painting finally sold 29 years later. Joseph Butler probably purchased it for its American impressionist style. He soon incorporated it as a permanent part of his institution. Click on the picture below of poppies in "Flanders Field" to learn more.
Lieutenant George Plummer "Peter" Howe, of Harvard University, a doctor and an enlisted medical officer was hit by a shell in the Polygon Wood area. He was the first American officer to be killed in WWI.
It appears that Goldstar mothers were importing poppy seeds to memorialize their sons' plots. In a very unpopular move, the Boston Agricultural Commissioner banned further imports of poppy seeds due to their aggressive propagation. Click on the newspaper clipping below for details.
Our Walkbostonhistory.com does not have a WWI walking tour as it is impractical. Yet, Boston and Massachusetts contributed its share to WWI. Let's not forget the terrible loss of life caused by the influenza epidemic among our soldiers going "over there". It first appeared on-board a ship taking the Big Red One Division to Europe, from Fort Devens, Ayer, Massachusetts, in 1917. Two-hundred soldiers died before the ship reached England. Millions died thereafter of the epidemic. Please visit us at www.walkbostonhistory.com/ More info available here on Robert Vonnoh. www.askart.com/artist/Robert_William_Vonnoh/23187/Robert_William_Vonnoh.aspx
Bibliography "Flanders Field Book", by Patrick Lernout and Christopher Sims, is available now in Dutch, to be published soon in English, probably under the same title. Patrick has done an amazing service to the 368 known Americans interned at Waregem. Much credit and thanks also to Christopher Sims. They have written a biography of each of the known American dead. www.flandersfieldbook.be/ Drill into this site to read original letters home and see Patrick's passion for the history of the battle and the soldiers that served. www.flandersfieldbook.be
My thanks to Patrick for early release, in English, of the above information about Lt. Ernest A Giroux.
Quasimodo Tours: Phillip is an excellent tour guide. Amazing factual information from 9am -6pm, door to door, key stops and fluent English. Find him here; www.quasimodo.be/
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