For the next ten days or so I would walk through French Flanders, Picardy and Champagne, and would cross the rivers of the Somme, the Aisne and the Marne. I would see signposts to places such as Vimy, St Quentin and Verdun. For I was walking through the very heart of north-east France and the battlefield areas of World War One. It was a sobering experience. Of course, I happened to be there for the centenary of the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914. This picture was taken in the Beaurains Road Cemetery on the southern outskirts of Arras — I passed many War Grave cemeteries on this part of the route. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, whose website states: 'We commemorate the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Our cemeteries, burial plots and memorials are a lasting tribute to those who died in some 153 countries across the world.'
|The cemetery register in Beaurains Road Cemetery.|
|Some cemeteries are huge, and stretch for several square miles. Others are small plots in the middle of nowhere — often on the site of field hospitals where the dead were buried as they fell.|
|I have no words to capture the poignancy of this.|
|And war still goes on every day — in Gaza, in Iraq, in Ukraine. Good God, I have no words. Only silent prayers.|
|. . . and here it is closer up, complete with chair. I had a peaceful night, disturbed by no one, not even the graveyard ghosts . . .|