An Enduring Symbol Of Military Sacrifice

The once-eldest serving soldier and World War One veteran Harry Patch wrote in 2008: "Always remember both sides of the line".
His advice was followed recently at the unveiling of a new First World War cenotaph, as it was inaugurated at the German War Cemetery of Langemark, near Ypres, Belgium.
The area is in the Dutch-speaking northern area of Belgium, Flanders, and much of the fighting on the Western Front was confined to this narrow corridor.
Poppies are indigenous and ubiquitous, which is why they, and the 1915 poem "In Flanders Fields" are naturally associated with Britain's involvement in First World War and the war itself. 
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But the Peace Monument isn't just for the British dead - it honours all the dead and wounded of World War One, both military and civilian.
They are represented by 2016 steel poppies at the base, for the year of the monument's inauguration.
Included amongst them is a single white flower to represent those soldiers executed for 'cowardice'. Monument creator Terrence Clark spoke to Forces TV about it:
"The white poppies actually touched a lot of hearts... When you tell [people what the white poppy means], you can see tears in their eyes. It's wonderful".
Langemark Cemetery contains the graves of 44,000 German soldiers, but the area is home to plenty of British dead too.
The Ypres Salient was a portion of the British line that bulged out, and was thus open to attack from three sides.
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This area of the front, as infamous to British soldiers as the Somme, saw three major battles fought over it.
The First Battle of Ypres took place in 1914 and became the 'graveyard' of the 'Old Contemptibles', the small British pre-war army, many of them perishing in combat with the Germans as both sides tried to outflank each other in the opening moves of the war.
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Nonne Basschen, at the Battle of First Ypres (plate by Ed Dovey, from First Ypres, 1914: The Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles by David Lomas)
The Second Battle of Ypres, in 1915, saw the Germans use poison gas, a milestone that started a new chemical arms race that made the suffering of the trenches infinitely worse.
By 1917 the battlefield was a pockmarked lunar morass - every bit the swampy hell people think of when dwelling on the battlefields of World War One. 
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Mud Road to Passchendaele by Douglas W. Culham
The ground was churned up by the Belgians, who'd flooded the low plains in 1914 to hamper the German advance, by millions of shells that had bludgeoned the ground for three years, by melting snow and ice from the coldest winter 'in living memory' of 1916-17 and by rain from the wettest summer in 30 years.
By the time the British advance started on August 31st, 1917, the ground was thoroughly saturated, and the subsequent battle was fought as much against nature as it was against the Germans.
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Morning at Passchendaele, a composite image by Frank Hurley
The Third Battle of Ypres came to be known as 'Passchendaele' after the village the fighting finally ended at in late 1917. It became as synonymous with mud and slaughter as the Somme had been the year before.
In fact, many contemporaries report that conditions were actually worse, with men literally drowning in mud in some cases.
It was the nadir of Britain's war on the Western Front.
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Chateau Wood, Ypres, 1917
Dry ground at Cambrai would be chosen for the next assault in November 1917, and the following year.
After the Germans' failure to break through in their spring offensive, internal collapse within the German army and momentum that took off during the Hundred Days Offensive, as the Allies counter-attacked, eventually ended the war.
Now, Flanders Fields have a new landmark to honour all those who died.
It's forged from steel and is intended to be a permanent tribute to everyone lost and injured in conflict.
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Cover image: The 2nd Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry in combat with the Prussian Guard at Nonne Bosschen, during the First Battle of Ypres
For more on the First Battle of Ypres, read First Ypres, 1914: The Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles by David Lomas; for more on military history, visit Osprey Publishing.