Memo­ri­als to mark cen­tury-old hor­ror of World War I

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

YPRES, Bel­gium — Memo­ri­als will be held on Sun­day and Mon­day to mark the cen­te­nary of one of World War I’s most bloody bat­tles.

The Third Bat­tle of Ypres, fought in west­ern Bel­gium a cen­tury ago, was as bad as World War I would get. Half a mil­lion sol­diers were es­ti­mated to have been killed or wounded dur­ing the 100day bat­tle and one name keeps com­ing back: Pass­chen­daele, now as grim a sym­bol as any field of war ever re­mem­bered.

Mon­day marks the cen­ten­nial of the start of the Al­lied of­fen­sive, which ended up barely mov­ing the front line.

Thus it be­came a metaphor for the folly of war as sol­diers from Aus­tralia, Canada and New Zea­land joined mostly Bri­tish forces at­tempt­ing to break Ger­many’s hold on the West­ern Front.

“It is the largest mas­sacre ever to have taken place on Bel­gian soil,” said cu­ra­tor Piet Chie­lens of the In Flan­ders Fields Mu­seum, which has recorded over 150,000 dead and still count­ing in the months of fight­ing.

Bel­gium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are ex­pected to join Bri­tain’s Prince Charles, Prince Wil­liam and the Duchess of Cam­bridge over two days of cen­te­nary cer­e­monies, start­ing with a Last Post at Ypres’ Menin Gate on Sun­day.

Dig­ni­taries and the de­scen­dants of those who died will gather in Ypres’s Mar­ket Square for an event to tell the story of the bat­tle.

There will also be per­for­mances and mu­sic.

When the Third Bat­tle of Ypres started on July 31, 1917, World War I was en­ter­ing its fourth year, bogged down in trench war­fare. Both sides were des­per­ate for a break­through fol­low­ing the hun­dreds of thou­sands of ca­su­al­ties the year be­fore at Ver­dun and the Somme in north­ern France, two other bat­tles that vie with Pass­chen­daele as the most costly of the Great War.

Bri­tain’s Sir Dou­glas Haig was con­vinced he could force a break­through at Ypres, even though two ear­lier bat­tles there had failed. The goal was to shut down Ger­man sub­ma­rine oper­a­tions on the Bel­gian coast. Haig’s plan to take the vil­lage of Pass­chen­daele in a few days and move on to the coast turned out to be wildly am­bi­tious.

With rain turn­ing the swampy ter­rain to mud and the Ger­mans armed with mus­tard gas, it would take un­til Novem­ber for the Al­lies to cap­ture the vil­lage. They never got close to the ports of Zee­brugge and Os­tend.

It is the largest mas­sacre ever to have taken place on Bel­gian soil.” Piet Chie­lens, cu­ra­tor of the In Flan­ders Fields Mu­seum The group sail their raft on the Vis­tula river near War­saw, Poland, in their at­tempt to re­vive the an­cient tra­di­tion of tim­ber float­ing. For cen­turies, tim­ber float­ing brought wealth to many vil­lages along the Vis­tula and its trib­u­taries, but the prac­tice died out af­ter World War II.

“We are cur­rently in Hong Kong, as well as South Korea, Ger­many, Switzer­land, Den­mark, Spain, France and Bri­tain,” ex­plained Vigil.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures, Ar­gentina ex­ported $1 bil­lion of wine in 2015. Winer­ies are team­ing up with the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs to boost Ar­gentina’s global mar­ket share from 3.8 per­cent to 5.8 per­cent.

In May this year, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping held talks with Ar­gen­tine Pres­i­dent Mauri­cio Macri dur­ing Macri’s visit to Bei­jing, and the two sides agreed to fur­ther pro­mote bi­lat­eral ties.

Xi hailed Ar­gentina’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive and called for dove­tail­ing it with Ar­gentina’s de­vel­op­ment strat­egy.

Un­der the ini­tia­tive, China and Ar­gentina will deepen co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous in­dus­tries.

Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba signed a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the Ar­gen­tine gov­ern­ment in May to boost the selling of Ar­gen­tine wine to China, as Chi­nese peo­ple are in­creas­ingly look­ing for over­seas prod­ucts.

Vigil il­lus­trated the im­por­tance of the wine trade for the Men­doza area.

“In Men­doza, ev­ery­body has a brother or a cousin who works in the wine trade. This is an area where we breathe wine, we live wine ... It is our pas­sion as it is our way of life,” he said.

JULY 31- AUG 1

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