Thursday, February 16, 2012

History Already Made

This should probably be the warning label on my website! In typical French fashion, this is the warning you get for entering an area that might be dangerous. If you get hurt, you've been warned by this sign, so you can't sue. Too bad or as they say, tant pis.

As promised, here's a little information and pictures about the World War 1 field trip.  I know my father got very excited when he heard WWI field trip and he's dying for pictures, so here's what I have.

The sun doesn't rise until about 8am so it's really hard to get up in the morning.  On the other end of the day, it's nice to have light until almost 7pm, but leaving on a field trip at 7am and seeing darkness like it's 5am at home for us is hard.  THese are some of the American kids as we all stood at the school waiting for our buses.

We ran into some unexpected traffic headed toward Paris, more than the typical rush hour, so we got off and went through some town.

I liked this road but I have no idea where it was. Notice there is a white line down the middle of the road, not yellow.  We Americans can't get used to the missing yellow line.

It was not a pretty day and as we got out into the country, we saw lots of fields and gray skies.  The sun tried to poke through, but it didn't have much luck and then it rained and we were out in the rain like a bunch of fools at one point.

This is in the Piccardie area which is in northern France.  They grow wheat, corn, sugar beets and potatoes.  A lot of the fields looked like they had just been turned over because they were really brown.  Others just had grass growing on them, looking like they were waiting to be turned.

I think there is a rainbow in this picture, toward the right.  We saw both sides of the rainbow, but not at the same time in an arc.

This might be the Somme river which is where the battle of the Somme took place.  It might just be a canal.  I told you this would not be 100% accurate!

This is a museum dedicated to La Grande Guerre, the "big" war.  I always though WW2 was the big one, but they are called WW1 the big one.  As I said yesterday, the US arrived late to this party, so I think the "big" part had already happened by the time we came on the scene and it was not so big by then.

The museum was actually in an old ruined castle and they made a nice modern museum inside.  I didn't realize it was a castle until I started wandering around after lunch.

They had a nice way of displaying the uniforms and battle gear.  They were set down in the floor and you could get a really good look at everything and it was nice that it wasn't behind glass.  There were maps that explained what each thing was in the inset.  I think this one above was the German outfit.  I took pictures of the signs after this one so I would know which was which but I am pretty sure that was German.

This was the British soldier's stuff.

This was the gear that the French had on the front.

The German gear at the front.

The French uniforms.

The British gear at the front.

Not sure whose this was but I think it was French...  The red and blue make me think French.

This is the town of Peronne which is where the museum is located.  This is the center of town.  I always think it's funny when they park like this because it looks like they are parked in the middle of the road but it's really meant for parking.

Outside the museum.

On the way out to the battlefields.

This is a British cemetery.  They lost a lot of soldiers in this war and they were buried in France.  The British commonwealth at that time included Ireland, Australia and parts of Africa.  The German and French soldiers' families could have the remains sent home for burial, but the British commonwealth thought it was best to leave their soldiers in France.  At the time, there was no quick way to transport remains back to places like Australia and Africa, and they didn't think it was fair that some could be brought back to their homeland in England or Ireland, but others couldn't be brought home, so they established British commonwealth cemeteries all over the area.

They are in the process of locating tunnels and trenches that were used during the war.  The yellow flags indicate that there is a tunnel/trench below.  I thought we would see open trenches but they aren't open in the area where we were.  If you didn't know, you would just think they were hills.

And it's not really sacred.  This is a house right across the street from where the yellow flags are.  I asked if it was now named as historic land and they said yes, but you still can build on it if you want to go through all of the  red tape (or yellow flags, hee heee).  Some of the French kids were shocked that there might be bodies, bombs and tunnels still there, and the guide explained that if they put everything on hold because of leftover war remains, no one would have been able to move on and rebuild at all because France is so littered with war debris.

True, but strange to think about.  They still have live munitions buried all over and it's not unusual for farmers to find them.  I don't think Americans really understand any of this because we haven't had this kind of war on our land.  There weren't bombs like that during the Revoluntionary and Civil wars.

This friendly horse is in a pasture where they have some flags marking the trenches.  The flags look like what they put out when the check for gas or electric lines.  I'd expect something more heavy duty.

Here's a house build right on top of where there must be tunnels because there are tunnels before and after the house.

This is a big crater that was left after a particularly large explosion.  The French soldiers would sneak in and dig below the German trenches and set explosives to blow up the trenches and interfere with their movement.  There was some insane amount of explosives used in this one and it left a giant hole that's still there.  This is where that warning sign was located and the rim of it is where we had the crazy mud episode.

This little crater within the crater is where the explosives went off.

The guide claims that the lines you see are from kids riding BMX bikes before they fenced it off.  THat seems a little far fetched to me because I would think grass would have grown in.  The fence looked like it was as old as the crater.  You can't go down into the crater now, you walk around the rim.

The land has tons of limestone which is what made the muddy mess.  It doesn't seem to bother the farmers at all.  This is a piece of the chalky, crumbly limestone.

Lots of pieces of chalk!

This is a French cemetery.  Not all of the French soldiers' remains went back to their towns.

  These are just bikers but I said it looked like the Tour de France passing by!

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