Belgian Marching.

Discussion in 'Sports, Adventure Training and Events' started by Ravers, Mar 18, 2013.

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  1. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Put your pace sticks away, I'm not on about drill.

    In Belgian military circles, it is customary for various regiments to host a 'march' once a year, in order to strengthen the bond between the local civvies and promote friendship with foreign military units. There is usually a strong remembrance theme running through the event and they usually follow a route through a few battlefields and past a few war cemeteries.

    Invariably these marches all turn into unbelievably good piss ups.

    The usual format is 4 days of 30ish km walks, evenings are filled with loads of Belgian beer, sausages and oom pah bands. A few remembrance parades/battlefield tours are also thrown into the mix completing the package nicely. These marches usually attract 10,000+ participants and are a mix of military units and civvy walkers.

    The atmosphere is very bizarre but good, kind of a cross between remembrance Sunday, Oktoberfest, the London marathon and the piss up/BBQ at the end of a large NATO exercise.

    Anyone ever done one of these? I've done the Yser march and the Mesa march, I'm talking some years ago now. Quite frankly they were epic. Each time I stayed as the guest of the hosting unit, crashing in gyms on camp beds or in tent cities and eating in the mess. My overriding memory is drinking vast amounts of Leffe and Hoegaarden at 1 euro a pint and walking off a minging hangover each day. The fact that Belgian beer companies sponsor these events, should give you some idea of the organiser's main priorities.

    Save for the odd team of air cadets and a scattering of mad civvies, there seems to be absolutely zero official UK presence, it's a shame really, even the Yanks usually send over a team.

    Anyway, it looks like I'm probably going to be getting amongst at least one of the marches this year with some mates just for the hell of it.

    This post is just to raise awareness really as I'm assuming most of you won't have even heard of this, it's jolly good fun and all are welcome. Hope to see some of you there.

    Get amongst it:

    Vierdaagse van de IJzer Subject General

    Marche Européenne du Souvenir et de l'Amitié

    European March of Memory and Friendship Subject History
     
  2. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    sounds interesting, do they have a jack wagon as I'm not sure I'm up to a km a day let alone 30?
     
  3. You won't catch me drinking with those filthy phlegms......and there's even less chance of me bonding with buffoon walloons.

    They wouldn't give us our 120mm ammo back for Gulf 1 and they are a nest of war shy kiddy fiddlers.....
     
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  4. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    But there is beer!
     
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  5. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    There are plenty of other nationalities to mix with, I fondly recall swapping a fake SAS badge that came free with an Andy McNab book for a stupid American's brand new Camelbak.

    And yes there is a jack wagon and a medical tent where you can get pain killers to sort out your hangover.
     
  6. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Do I need a passport or would dressing up in Khaki with an SMLE get me in? It sounds like great fun but sadly a lot of effort for a piss up. I am still reaping the penalties of the pat macks cider. If we get an arrsse team together can I be the drivers mate?
     
  7. On the plus side : in the London Marathon you you only get approached by people holding up two fingers covered in Vaseline by St Johns Ambulance volunteers, whereas in Belgium most of the local population will glady offer it to you.
     
  8. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    You do actually see the odd WW2 re-enactor doing it in full gear.

    I seem to recall having to book in advance, it cost about 20 euros for the entire 4 days, a couple of begging emails to the hosting unit secured free food and accom. They are keen to get Brits involved it appears.

    They even give you a chad as **** medal.

    Edited to add:

    Yep, still 20 euros for the march or 130 euros all in with food and accom thrown in. Like I said, I reckon this is easily blagged though.
     
  9. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    I'm not sure about this, I gave up on physical exercise when the govt stopped shouting at me to do so!
     
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  10. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    It's not that bad, just walking at a steady pace for 6ish hours a day, no running involved, kids and even fat American loggies manage it.

    I did see some Dutch paras running it in full CEMO but what's the point?

    The biggest challenge for most is blisters, you see some gopping foot injuries at some of the checkpoints.

    Edited to add: Blisters and beer related injuries, I'm not ashamed to say, I biffed the last day of the Yser after spending the night in a vomit and piss soaked bivi bag.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    A man after my own heart!
     
  12. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Right, I've just spoken to a few of the lads and it looks like we're definitely on for the Yser this year.

    Accommodation appears to have been blagged already.

    That was quick.
     
  13. Can I come out to play - pretty please?.
     
  14. Ravers

    Ravers LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Of course mate, it looks like we might be camping now. Just sign up via the site and we'll see you there!

    I've found an Air Cadet unit who are going, I'm just trying to get them to stick our names down on their paperwork. Works out loads cheaper that way because on paper we'll be part of a visiting military team as opposed to a bunch of random Brits on the piss.

    Might have to buy them a few beers in exchange but it'll save us about 100 euros a piece.


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