Ploegsteert, or Plugstreet as it was called in WW1, is two miles North of Armentieres and the French border, and eight miles South of Ypres.
wwl-belgium-170-(small)It has a large Memorial, and rows of graves lined up on either side of the main road, so they can’t be ignored by passing motorists. It commemorates the death of over 11,000 British and South African servicemen who were killed in World War 1.
Although this happened 100 years ago, the whole area is immaculate and well-looked after as though it happened last year!
There are 11,400 names on the Memorial. 200,000 are unnamed.
Two statues of lions guard the entrance, facing East. One looks peaceful, and the other has its teeth bared, saying ‘Stay away!’
R Palmer of the biscuit family is buried there, amongst the neat rows of gravestones.
Nearby is the  Plugstreet 14-18 Experience museum.
Partially built underground, it shows an interactive display of what happened throughout  WW1.
We climbed back on the coach and drove just a couple of miles to the place that interested me the most. It’s such a fascinating, moving story!
wwl-belgium-180-(small)The St Yves Cross marks the site of the Christmas Truce Football Match.
There are of course, slight variations of what happened on that day. But the main facts are well-documented.
Just after dawn on Christmas Day, 1914, the soldiers awoke to an eerie silence. All gunfire had stopped. Then floating across from the German trenches came the sound of singing; ‘Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles Schlaft, einsam wacht’.
Heads popped up above the trenches to see what ws going on, and the British gradually joined in, recognising the tune, ‘Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…’
A German soldier walked up, clutching a small pine tree  and called, ‘We not shoot, you not shoot.’
Everyone slowly emerged from the trenches into the bitterly cold area of No-Man’s Land in the middle.
First, both sides collected all their dead, retrieving the bodies.
They shook hands with their enemy,  lit each other’s cigarettes, and exchanged addresses and tunic buttons.
wwl-belgium-181-(small)The Germans gave the Brits sausages and sauerkraut and the British gave them chocolate.
That’s when the famous ‘football’ game took place, Brits v Germans. No, they didn’t have a football; they used empty bully-beef cans and used their helmets as goal posts.
At midnight, flares went off to say that the truce was over. Everyone said their goodbyes, then with a final wave, they turned their backs on each other and returned to their trenches.
On Boxing Day, they were killing their new friends of the day before with their addresses in their pockets, family men with names and personalities, not just army numbers in a trench, and with fiancees, wives and young children at home.
We all signed a couple of footballs and left them with the other balls laid round the cross. Perhaps we should have brought an empty tin can instead, maybe with signatures placed inside it!
wwl-belgium-217-(small)The sun was setting as we reached the Saint-Symphorien Cemetery, known as one of
Belgium’s most beautiful cemeteries. British and German soldiers are buried there together.
Both the first and the last British soldier killed in WW1 lay facing each other.
As we wandered around this peaceful place, the sunset spread across the sky, a deep blood red.
So many lost lives; some of them no more than children, aged 16.
Darkness fell and we silently made our way back to the coach, lost in thought.
Psycho politicians fall out, and millions of innocent people lose their lives while obeying orders.
And it’s still going on all over the world.
Will we ever learn? Probably not!

Belgian Toruist Office
Brussels and Wallonia
217 Marsh Wall
Condon
E14 9FJ

Tel 020 7531 0392
www.belgiumtheplaceto.be
email press@belgiumtheplaceto.be

About Lyn

LYN FUNNELL CV (well, sort of!) Lyn had very successful careers as an Air Hostess, Sales Rep, (she was one of only a couple of women. She beat all the men regularly, becoming the Top Rep in the UK, and 2nd in the world.) And then Catering took over. She did everything from the washing-up, to Silver Service Waitress, and Chef. A few times, she had to cook the meal, dash round the other side and Silver Serve it! In between all this, she wrote as often as she could, building up a reputation as a published short story writer, (Horror and a twist in the tale,) and a Poet. She has appeared as a Performing Poet, and a Demo Chef. Then she discovered the world of the Food & Travel Writer. And that’s what she has continued doing to this day. Her main hobbies are Cookery and entering Competitions. She has won many prizes, including holidays and a moped. She enjoys entering Competitions, submitting her original recipes. She was first in many Competitions, including the Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu, Fruits of France, Bernard Matthews Turkey Recipe, and appeared on BBC’s The One Show Spag Bol contest. She was one of three Finalists, coming 2nd, which makes her Britain’s Spag Bol Queen! Now she runs B-C-ing-U! and loves it! After several years of being messed around by Editors, and having loads of contacts, Lyn formed her own online Magazine, vowing to treat her writers fairly, and to do everything possible to further their careers, publicise their books, etc. She now has a band of excellent regular writers, and the Magazine’s going from strength to strength! Lyn’s online published books; Adverse Camber A collection of my published poems. The First Book of Short Stories The Second Book of Short Stories The Third Book of Short Stories. Many of these stories have been previously published. St Anthony of Padua. The Patron St of the Old. A story of one woman’s terrible ordeal in a Home, and her family’s rescue of her. The Girl Who Watched. A Cuban girl is attacked by an English journalist & what follows! Willy the Whizz & the Wormhole. Suitable for Young Adults, aged 15-95! Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out – Forever! Unsympathetic, hard-hitting, realistic solutions to your problems. All these books are published by Andrews UK Ltd www.andrewsuk.com No, I didn’t pay them to Vanity Publish! They’re all available from Amazon, and many other online publishers. LYN FUNNELL.