Some of the fiercest and bloodiest battles in World War I were fought in a small corner of western Belgium – the Ypres Salient. Today an area of bucolic farmland sprinkled with reconstructed villages, the region is nevertheless filled with soldiers’ cemeteries and war memorials, reminders of the brutal destruction of four years of trench warfare.
The world’s eyes will be on Belgium this year for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The first soldier to be killed in the fighting died in Liège at dawn on 4 August 1914; the first and the last British soldiers to die were both killed in Mons, near the French border.
- Brussels is staging a major exhibition, 1914-18: It’s our History!, which opens on 7 February at the city’s Royal Army Museum.
- There are also scores of other commemorative events all over Flanders, the northern part of Belgium: see visitflanders.co.uk for details.
- Tour operators are running guided trips, too: such as Ramblers Worldwide, which has aWalking the Ypres Salient tour (from £999, including half-board accommodation and Eurostar travel, which includes the Tyne Cot cemetery, near Ypres.