The weekend of 7-9 December, BCA took us on an excursion to Metz-Verdun, where we met the students from the BCA site in
Friday night, however, started on a lighter note: Living on the euro and continually cooking for yourself, you come to really appreciate restaurant meals for which BCA foots the bill. Take this one, for example:
Mmm…much more appetizing than Leslie’s “tête de veau” (cow’s head).
Saturday began with a visit to Fleury, or rather, the site where Fleury used to stand. Switching hands something like fourteen times, the village was to no surprise destroyed, and today plaques mark the former location of roads, the bakery, the school, etc. It was a sobering place. Given the “lunar landscape” left behind by trench warfare and many, many exploding shells (though the surrounding forest is still filled with unexploded shells, and therefore is mostly off-limits), everyone was certain that nothing would ever grow again on this infernal ground. Today, of course, the ground is green with moss and bushes, and trees shade the pockmarked countryside, pits filled with water. But the site was eerily silent, everyone lost in their own thoughts, trying to imagine the sights and sounds of war in this place, trying to grasp what is so precious that humankind would go this far—on the way, destroying that which is so precious.
After visiting the memorial museum, we stopped at the Trench of Bayonets, a line of soldiers who had been preparing to climb out of their trench, bayonets at the ready, when a shell exploded nearby and buried them alive. After the war, a farmer was plowing this field and came across this strange line of bayonet points sticking up out of the ground. The site was memorialized, leaving the soldiers where they lay—although the bayonets were stolen from the site a few years ago.
The ossuary, which holds all the bones of soldiers (French, German, or unidentified) collected from the battlefield at the end of the war, reminded me of
As for the town of
More to come...