Aftermath - when the boys came home

Saturday 11 June 2011

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Remembrance

The Ypres League

I found the leaflet pictured left tucked into a copy of The Immortal Salient, published by the Ypres League in London in 1925. The book itself is "an historical record and complete guide for pilgrims to Ypres".

The foreword is by Philip Gibbs, the war correspondent whose 1920 book Realities of War painted a very different picture of conditions in the trenches from those he had been forced to portray in his newspaper articles.

There are also photographs, and sketches illustrating the text, and a detailed list of all the war cemeteries in the area. Additionally tucked into the flap at the back of the book (along with the leaflet) is a detailed map of the Ypres battlefields. A map showing locations of the cemetery is unfortunately missing.

I've reproduced the text of the leaflet (below) for those of you who are interested in the post war pilgrimages to the Great War battlefields.

Further information on post-war pilgrimages to the battlefield areas can be found here

THE YPRES LEAGUE (Incorporated)
36, EATON PLACE, LONDON, S.W.1.



"Lest we Forget"

 

Patron-in-Chief:

H.M. THE KING

Patrons:

H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES.

H.R.H. THE PRINCESS BEATRICE.

President

FIELD-MARSHAL THE EARL OF YPRES, O.M., K.P., &c.

Vice Presidents:

F.-M. EARL HAIG, K.T., G.C.B., &c.
F.-M. LORD PLUMER OF MESSINES. G.C.B., G.C.M.G., &c.

F.-M. VISCOUNT ALLENBY, G.C.B., G.C.M.C., &c.
RT. HON. VISCOUNT BURNHAM (Anglo-Belgian Union), T.D.

Chairman of the Executive Committee:

Auditors:

LIEUT.-GEN SIR W. P. PULTENEY, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O.

MESSRS. GEO. DIXEY & CO.,
27, Regent Street, W.

Hon.Secretary and Treasurer:

Bankers:

MAJOR B. S. BROWNE.

BARCLAY & CO., LTD., Knightsbridge Branch.

Hon. Solicitors:

MESSRS. FLADGATE & CO., 18, Pall Mall, S.W.

Trustees:

LIEUT.-GEN. SIR W.P. PULTENEY, K.C.B., K.C.V.O.

CAPT. H. D. HYAMS, M.C.

Representative at Ypres:

CAPT. P. D. PARMINTER

The Ypres League was founded on the 28th September, 1920. It has now become an incorporated association, and its members are determined to carry out the original objects carefully chosen by its founders, certain that in future years our successors will be grateful.

No cause could be more inspiring than that which commemorates British tenacity, develops comradeship, and helps the thousands who have joined the League by cheering words and practical deeds, The stupendous effort of the War has engendered lassitude and even pessimism. Perhaps these will pass away; indeed, they must. Hundreds of those who have joined the League have regained courage and an optimistic view.

Sir Philip Gibbs, K.B.E., writing of the defenders of Ypres and the Ypres League, has said :-

An Ypres League has been founded in which all men of ours who served in the Salient are associated as members of a brotherhood in arms, unforgetful of the dead comrades who lie there - a quarter of a million of them - and mindful of their own service in the ordeal of battle, which for many was hardest there, and of the meaning which that name Ypres will have for ever in our history.

Large numbers of officers and men who served at Ypres have already enrolled themselves as members of the League and have received their certificate of membership, finely designed, and good to keep as a memorial of honour. The families and friends of those who fell in the Salient may have now this same document with the service and sacrifice of their own men recorded upon it, so that their children may keep it in reverence, and shall remember. In the city of Ypres itself, among the ruins there, will be kept a register of the dead, and plans are in progress to mark the sites of the great battles, to guide pilgrims to the most memorable places of historic fighting, to keep the League in friendly touch with the people who have come back to those fields, and if possible - in these hard times - to put up some visible memorial on behalf of the League. That may be a belfry whose chimes sounding across the Menin Road, below Passchendaele, beyond Hooge, will be a spiritual call to the hearts of those who know what happened there.

These plans, and the idea of the League, depend for great success upon the response of all those hundreds of thousands of men who now in civil life look back upon the old days in Flanders as the time of their supreme test, in which, by the grace of God, and their own strength of soul, such as it was, they did not fail.

There is nothing but sentiment in the idea of the Ypres League. Yet it is a sentiment in which there is no falsity, no morbid touch, but something which belongs to the best pride of men, to the gladness they have in the courage that was theirs in frightful hours. or at least in the mastery they had over the fear that was in them, and their resistance to the misery, the beastliness, the filth, the terrors that were around them in those grim battlefields where death took a freakish choice of life.

I believe there is hardly a man in those hundreds of thousands, who, in years to come, will not be glad to nod his head towards that framed certificate of honour and say : "You see, he served at Ypres" - not in boastfulness, but in remembrance. I think, too, that the children of those who died in those fields will cherish that bit of paper as a proof of brave ancestry. I am one of those who can tell them that any man who went through Ypres along the Menin Road, who sat in the dirty ditches of Hooge, who helped in any way to get forward to the ridges up to Passchendaele and defended by any service the last hold on the ruins of the city, passed the highest test of human courage.

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