Lessons to be learned
The unknown dead
To cut a long story short, from that day on he started to read and collect everything to do with World War One.
Because The Netherlands stayed neutral during this conflict (Germany was not
interested in this tiny country at the time although mixed interest could be the real
reason judging by the way trade was conducted during the war by these so-called "neutral countries"), not many Dutch books were published on the matter. Even at school during
history class World War One was hardly discussed although the Dutch Army remained
mobilized along the Belgium and German border from the 1st. August 1914 up to the 11th. November 1918.
Part of the Dutch Air Force was made up of British, German and French planes which for some reason or another
landed in our country, not to mention the Fokker planes which Anthony Fokker himself brought
over by train from Germany once the war ended. Even today we still have names and places in The Netherlands which remind us of
the Belgium and French refugees who stayed in our country during the war
(Vluchten voor de Groote Oorlog, Belgen in Nederland 1914-1918 and Oorlogsgasten, Vluchtelingen en krijgsgevangenen in Nederland tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog).
In all over one million foreigners, mostly Belgians, were granted asylum in The Netherlands. The German Emperor Wilhelm II was also granted asylum on the 10th. November 1918, he was never extradited and died in Doorn in 1941.
The last couple of years some very good battlefield tour-guides written by - surprisingly enough - Dutch authors ("Velden van Weleer" by Chrisje and Kees Brants and "Ieper 14 | 18" by Richard Heijster to name a view) came on the market. Judging by the number of reprints one could suggest that the interest in this area is rising which I think is a good thing. A lot could be learned from WW1, especially because history seems to repeat itself over and over again.TOP
THE UNKNOWN DEAD
He died alone in the dark, the horrible dark,
And no man knew where he lay
His body was shattered and flung by the monstrous death
Where the shell-fiends slay !
Hurled to the winds by the mine, the terror unknown
That sudden leaps from below !
Left in No-man's-land in the fiery hell
Where none may go.
He paced where a crash of stone, and a blazing town
Were his unwatched funeral pyre
He fell in the flaming wreck of his broken wings
In a shroud of fire.
The infinite waters hide his burial-place
And the great waves speak no name
He went from the Sea and the Land on unnumbered fields
Unknown to fame.
With the trumpets' peal, with the roll of the muffled drums,
Our homage we fitly bring.
We carry him home, and the nation forms his guard,
His nearest - the King.
He lies with his peers, in the country's sanctuary,
Where makers of Britain trod,
And will hold our pride in faith till Réveillé sounds
At the call of God.