'Reflections of Ypres'

Posted: 25/05/2015 | Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded member Derek McDonald has written a piece titled ‘Reflections of Ypres’ about his experiences on the charity’s World War One Battlefields Tour earlier this month.

The tour provided Derek an opportunity visit the sites of World War One battlefields, museums, Menin Gate and re-trace the footsteps of his Grandfather, Lance Corporal Alexander McDonald, who earned the Military Medal serving on the Western Front in 1917.

‘Reflections of Ypres’

Reflections of Ypres“We stood there for a while on a rise on the flat land of Flanders, Elayne described the scene to me. We were looking out over small fields of green, yellow and brown.  All neatly divided by neat hedges, there were small groups of trees and small woods many in spring blossom.

“It was so quiet and peaceful, it was difficult to imagine that one hundred years ago this  was a scene of death and carnage where hundreds of thousands of men fought and died for little gain.  The men who fought here are all gone now as are the trenches, the shell holes and the mud. Man and nature have healed the land it is hard to believe it ever happened.

“The reality, however was all around us, we were standing in a British and Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery surrounded by row after row of beautiful white headstones. Many hundreds inscribed with the name and Regiment of the man laid to rest there but many many more with no names just simply marked with a cross and the inscription ‘Known to God’. The most thought provoking and saddest thing is that in this, and every other cemetery, to the Menin Gate had endless lists of ‘The Missing’.

“As I stood there I thought of my grandfather, L/cpl Alex McDonald of the Royal Scots, who, although he survived the Great War and was awarded the Military Medal somewhere out there, never fully recovered. Many of his friends lost forever beneath that beautiful countryside.

“This has been a trip I had always hoped to make. Now, thanks to Scottish War Blinded, this dream has come true.”

Derek McDonald