Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Big Margot, Medieval Standard Bearer, Battle of Roosebeke, Belgium.

Women in War
The Flemish Big Margot 1382

The discoveries continue.  Northeast of Ieper, is the town of Westrozebeke. Ieper is also spelled, from old French, Ypres -- the town that was Wipers to my Canadian army uncle in WWI. Hello, Uncle Len.

A woman as standard bearer.  In Westrozebeke, in 1381, a battle ensued between the Flemish and the French. The Flemish battle standard was borne by a woman known as Big Margot, see page 455 of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare. It appears that the Flemish were upstart commoners, against noblemen of France, who were ruling at the time.  Is that so?

Big Margot fell at the battle, also called the Battle of Roosebeke. That battle is described briefly but she is not mentioned that I could see, at The War in the Low Countries. 

Women in war:  Not unusual, and even taught in bastions of male techological education, now including female, see https://history.mit.edu/subjects/women-and-war.  Women's initiatives for themselves occurred openly until forbidden, and when a role of obedience substituted for them instead.  See
Women and Religion in Old and New Worlds, edited by Debra Meyers, Susan Dinan 2014 at pp.75ff.  See alsoWomen in Froissart : their role in society and the Hundred Years War, Froissart as a chronicler of events of medieval times, see https://www.hrionline.ac.uk/onlinefroissart/ /

Women bearing arms, who and why:  find more, including women in the Hundred Years' War, the Hussite Wars, Sichelgaita of Salerno, Italy (middle-aged, mother of 10) who took up arms later in life, 1076 life, see http://www.naplesldm.com/sichel.phpand a bibliography at the Oxford site above.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Ieper, Ypres, Poet David Jones

David Jones is not as well known as many other poets of the WWI era, see http://worldwar1worldwar2.blogspot.com/#!/2007/11/war-poets-poetry-from-trenches-wwi.html
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Meet him here.  He wrote of Ypres.  Find his biography at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/david-jones
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My uncle (now long deceased, but I remember) who fought at Ypres used to call it "Wipers."  That reference is part of David Jones' work: He wrote, in notes to Part III of his long poem, In Parenthesis: "It was held by some that 'Wipers" was only proper in the mouth of a man out before the end of 1915, by others that the user must have served at the First Battle of Ypres in 1914.
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In Parenthesis:   Read a review at http://www.arduity.com/poets/jones/inparenthesis.html; and Part VII at http://net.lib.byu.edu/english/WWI/poets/InParenthesis.html.  Discussion, and excerpts from Part II: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/20century/topic_2/crossing.htm

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ypres, or Ieper (WWI) - Menen Gate and WWI Salient; Flanders Field

Menen Gate, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. With rainbow.

Ieper (Ypres) was the site of prolonged battles in WWI. It is near the French border. Arras is not far.  See a film about the trench warfare and the area at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ev3oDFtA3Es&feature=fvw/

 The town, bombed out, has been reconstructed and this Gate is the site of daily taps-memorials-services for whatever group has scheduled itself for that time.  There are readings of names, and a small service, color guards.  Note the rainbow. The Gate heads toward the next town, Menen, and groups gather from all different countries here.

We caught the rainbow.  No need for advance reservations to spend the night.  There are plenty of B&B's, and if the first ones are full, ask if they could refer you. They will probably even call ahead for you, and give you a map.

Wars get personal.

Meet a veteran, my uncle in this 1950's or so photo, who fought at Ypres with the Canadian Army.  He used to say that he and his companions called the place "Wipers." He was gassed, but recovered without injury. He did not talk much about the war. He did say that in a convoy of trucks, the one immediately behind his was blown up, no survivors.

Veteran, Canadian Army, WWI, Ypres (Ieper) Belgium. Salute the work.

The white square by his glasses must be part of the windowsill?

I have heard the town pronounced as "Eeps" - the French -  and "Eeper." German or Dutch? Watch your map, and you will probably find the spelling "Ieper" now.

For a photo gallery, see www.freefoto.com/browse.jsp?id=03-07-0.

The town is in West Flanders, and a war overview is at www.webmatters.net/cwgc/menin_gate. At the beginning of the battle (there were several long ones), people would go out in their carriages and watch.

For all sites, go to the home page first, and only use the rest of the address as is helpful.

People to remember:  
Col. John McCrae

John McCrae wrote the famous poem, In Flanders Field, and was Canadian. Read the poem again, and about how and when it was written in 1915, at an Arlington Cemetery site -- www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders. His biography is at www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm?source=history/firstwar/mccrae.  See and hear it at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky2WKqmrnnI; or ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpgSQiPqfgE&feature=related

Do not miss the exhibits at the war museum. Panoramas, scenes, reenactments, lights, sound.

And the poem. 
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow (1)
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ypres, or Ieper (WWI) - "In Flanders' Field;" and Arras, France: Finding War Dead

 Finding War Dead
Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Edwin McConaghey


World War I. This "The Great War", "The War To End All Wars"

World War I is remote for many, visions of endless mud and treacherous trench warfare, agony for horses still ridden against the bullets.  It is current for us with an interest in history, and specific participants. See map at http://mapsofworld.com/world-maps/world-war-i-map/.  Many if not most war records from the First World War were destroyed in the bombing of London in World War II, particularly the wounded.  Death records are available more reliably.

Finding people. We were looking for a relative who had served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, Maurice Edwin McConaghy, and who fell near Ypres, now Ieper, during WWI.  He is buried near Arras, France, see http://franceroadways.blogspot.com/2011/09/arras-battle-of-arras-logs-wwi-2nd.html

Finding World War I records:  How to do that

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website at http://www.cwgc.org/ .  This works if the spelling input is the same as the record.  If the soldier or officer changed the spelling of a surname without other relatives recording that, go deeper. We did not find Maurice McConaghy through the War Graves. 

2. We then went to the Documents Office at Ieper itself. This is a records library. The clerk went on the computer, found nothing (as we had found nothing) but thought to check the military logs and narratives written about events. 

He found the old cloth bound book, The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers (1678-1918) by John Buchan, with a preface by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, Colonel-In-Chief, published by Thomas Nelson and Sons.  The clerk photocopied pages that related to the 2d Division, with Maurice Edwin McConaghey, Lt. Col.  That is the one. "Maurice McConaghey."   But with an "e" in the McConaghey.

Also described -where and how he was first wounded, and then, near Arras, fell.

3. The Burial.

Burials are in pocket cemeteries, not big memorial parks.  In this area, they buried many soldiers where they fell in WWI, so there are literally hundreds of vest-pocket size cemeteries all around France and Belgium. Ours was among the 500 pocket cemesteries near Arras, France - so of course we went there. We finally found it. Immaculate caretaking.

Grave, Lt. Col. Maurice McConaghey, Arras, France, WWI

Gravestone.  Lt. Col. Maurice McConaghey with the "e."  Killed in 1917. Hello, salute, and yes, we do remember. He had also served in South Africa. We even found the record of the hospital ship online that brought Maurice McConaghey back from South Africa, wounded. See Boer Wars, Studying Wars

The Canadian officer who wrote the famous WWI poem, "In Flanders Field," John McRae, and who died in 1915, had also served in South Africa.  For the poem, see http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/inflanders.

We left a pebble on the top of the headstone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flanders Field: Battlefields, World War I. Ieper

Ypres (Ieper) Belgium, relief map, salient, WWI

A "salient" juts into enemy territory, making it particularly vulnerable - see the large poking area on the map here. Nearly surrounded. See ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ypres_Salient. See also //dialspace.dial.pipex.com/town/avenue/pd49/places/ieper/salient.

Here is the relief map of the Salient, the front formed by the British, Canadian, French and Belgian forces, at Ypres, or Ieper, Belgium. It is spelled Ieper on modern maps. Photos and history; and later post here. Photos of the Salient - ttp://www.worldwar1.com/pharc002.htm

Years of warfare in one place. There were three battles at Ypres - resulting in the town's total destruction. First in 1914, defending against the German push to the sea. Second in 1915, where trenches and gas were used. The area is flat, making trenches imperative. Third in 1917, known as the battle of Passchendaele. In 1918, the Germans were finally pushed back by an offensive at that time.

Newspaper yesterday: young people are not learning the history of the world wars, for lack of school hours and setting other priorities. Teach your own. Find Flanders at www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/flanders.