ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
Review by goodoldboy.

This is an excellent little book all about the reconstruction of Westhoek (West Flanders) in Belgium after the Great War.

After the Armistice of 1918 entire towns and villages had ceased to exist, the ground was flooded and heavily polluted and the landscape was a depopulated, bleak and lacking any of its former recognition. However, despite being recognised as a 'Devastated Region' by the Belgian government, the former population started to return and began to create temporary homes amongst the rubble prompting the authorities to begin planning for the future. Some villages were rebuilt by the mid 1920s although rebuilding continued right through until the 1990s - the culmination being the reopening of the formerly shattered Cloth Hall in the city of Ypres.

The real beauty of this book is the inclusion of numerous contemporary photographs, advertisements, plans and manuscripts - some of which are possibly rare. For example, and apart from heaps of rubble with a hand-written sign of the site of a village, there are pictures of the first post War tourists admiring an abandoned tank, the temporary huts and shelters, and local labourers filling trenches and shell holes by hand, amongst many more.

As this publication makes its way through the areas of Westhoek there are also plenty of modern photographs, maps, suggested walks and drives, and details of planned events in each town or city. There are plenty of interesting little snippets of information as well.

In conclusion, I would suggest that this book contains a wealth of information for anyone interested in the Great War in Flanders, and is a particular gem for anyone planning a trip to this unique area of Belgium. Highly recommended.

ARRSE rating: certainly 4.5 mushroom heads.

ISBN: 978-9-49234-655-1


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