As we advanced the timeline of First Canadian Army's progression through occupied Europe, the tour moved farther northward once again into Belgium.
First however, we switched gears to talk about the Chinese labor corps a little known or considered narrative tucked into the larger story of the Great War.
Since I am by no means an expert in this subject here is my brief explanation: since China was neutral and unable to send combat troops, they supplied the west with labourers during the later years of World War One. With casualties causing a shortage in the military labour pool tens of thousands of Chinese were shipped across the ocean to Europe to serve both behind and on the front lines as labourers.
When the war ended their job did not; unsafe working conditions, unexploded munitions and the spanish flu claimed Chinese lived on a daily basis as they cleaned up Europe's war far from their homelands.
Stereotypical and borderline racist epitaphs on labourers headstones such as "Faithful onto Death", "Though Dead he still Liveth" and "A Good Reputation Endures Forever" suggest little understanding of the culture and personalities of Chinese labourers.
That their story is all but unknown in the western memory of the Great War points to the lack of value placed on their contribution to the war effort during and in its aftermath.
As the questions surrounding the participation and commemoration of Chinese labourers still confronted the group it was time to move on. Shifting back the the Second World War the group visited Cap Gris Nez.
The Cap housed an extensive portion of the Atlantic Wall and some of the only costal guns large enough to shell England. The remnants of these emplacements still very clearly dot the landscape and several are accessible for cautious exploration.
The concrete bunkers are of a scale I had never seen before and made one shudder to think of how large the guns that once inhabited them would have been.
With the wind and the rain taking firm control of the day, we ended a little early and all moved onto our home for the last leg of the trip, Bruges.