Memorials to mark century-old horror of World War I
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