Dear friends and World War adepts
My name is Nick, I was born in 1980 and I live in the beautiful little village of Deurne in Belgium.
I'm gonna tell you briefly about my passion for the history of WWI and WWII and how I became this passionate.
I visited some museums and historical places when I was a little child, mostly in Belgium off course, but that was a long time before my interest became this big.
It all started during my holiday in Normandy in 2007. I went camping there for a week with my ex-girlfriend and it’s very hard to ignore the historical importance of this region and not to visit some of these places, though we didn’t plan this before the trip.
We visited the Centre Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer and drove over the Pegasus Bridge, which I recognised from the PC-game Call of Duty.
What impressed me most was the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer. I must admit this is one of the places which convinced me of expanding my knowledge on the subject. I returned to this place every year since then.
We returned to Normandy in 2008 and my interest got even bigger. We visited some more places and I also started expanding my (by now) very large DVD- and book collection regarding both World Wars.
So far I have visited many museums, cemeteries and other historical sites in Normandy. In 2012 I went there at the beginning of June for the first time, during the D-Day commemorations. It’s absolutely worth a visit in this period as you can now still meet some of the veterans that fought for our freedom and many ceremonies which you can attend are held too. There's also a lot of re-enactment and you meet many pleasant people with common interests.
Another favourite region of mine is Flanders Fields. I returned there for the first time in 2010 when we visited the Yser tower in Diksmuide, the In Flanders Fields museum and Ramparts Cemetery in Ypres and the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passchendale.
My interest in World War I was encouraged instantly. The centennial commemorations are well underway and I am honored to have been present on several beautiful commemorations.
The most impressive visits I did in the region were the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passchendale, the Christmas Truce in Ploegsteert and off course the Last Post in Ypres, something you definitely should attend.
Although I have already visited many places here, there is still so much to discover, but I’ll work on that in the future.
Battle of the Bulge
I first returned to the battlefield of the Battle of the Bulge in 2010 when I went camping in Burg-Reuland with some friends.
Since then I’m also fascinated about the events that found place here during World War 2. In 2012 and 2015 we did a tour with an excellent and qualified guide in the Ardennes region.
I also attended several Nuts weekends, the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge.
Some of the most impressive visits I did were the Bois Jacques and it’s foxholes, the Indians monument and the bison’s in the fields, the Nuts Cave, the Mardasson monument and the museums at La Gleize and Baugnez. The region has a wealthy historic value, you won’t get bored here soon.
War Visitors Linkhout
One of my personal highlights in life is the co-foundation of our War Visitors Linkhout association.
At the beginning of July 2010 we were at the Linkhout fair discussing about the trips I made in the past and others were interested in doing trips like this too. We were determined to start our own association and at the beginning of August we went searching for the Lancaster monument in the Goeren in Linkhout. We discovered it was in a very ruinous condition and made it our purpose to renovate it. We also received a book about the crash of the Lancaster bomber, written by Rudy Kenis.
That week we also held our first meeting. Our first event was a recital about the crash in the Goeren by Rudy Kenis. There were 130 interested people present who were all fascinated by the story told by Rudy with the help of his pictures.
We also did some successful trips like Auschwitz, Flanders Fields, Somme, Normandy and many more to come...
In May 2012 we had the honour to welcome Mr. Alex Jenkins and his wife Pauline in Linkhout. He was the pilot of the Lancaster that was shot above Linkhout, he was the sole survivor. This was an incredible experience which I’ll never forget in my life. It was a true honour to have met these two lovely people. Unfortunately mister Jenkins passed away in 2017, but not without us promising to continue commemorating him and his comrades.
Fields of Honor foundation
At the end of November 2017 I joined the Fields of Honor foundation as a researcher. This foundation researches all American soldiers that are buried or remembered on the Walls of the Missing at the American cemeteries of Ardennes, Henri-Chapelle in Belgium, Margraten in the Netherlands, Luxemburg in Luxemburg and Epinal and Lorraine in France. We try to find as much information as possible about the soldiers so we can add this to their personal files in an online database that anyone can consult. This way the names on the crosses, Stars of David and walls of the missing become more than just names, we try to create some kind of life story, even if it's only a short story.
Every two year the foundation organises 'The Faces of Margraten' event. During this event all available pictures of soldiers that are buried or remembered on the Wall of the Missing at the Netherlands American cemetery in Margraten are put next to their grave or wall. I am more than proud to be a part of this magnificent team.
More and more...
Other impressive places I visited where Anne Franks house in Amsterdam, the fortresses of Eben-Emael and Breendonk in Belgium, the Operation Market Garden commemorations, and the one that made the most impression; the ruins of Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin region in France. On June 10, 1944 the village was completely destroyed. 642 people, mainly inhabitants of the village, were murdered, men, women and children. All houses and buildings were set afire. The village has been left like it was on that day in 1944. When you’re in the area, do not hesitate to visit this place.
In 2014 I visited Auschwitz for the first time. This was very impressive too, but the mass tourism made it not as touching as I expected it to be, but this definitely is a place all history buffs must visit.
In 2015 I did a road trip through Germany, Cezch Republic and Austria. On this trip I visited several concentration camps, but the most impressive were the camps of Büchenwald and Terezin. I also visited Hitler's Eagle's Nest and was impressed with the beauty of this unique place, a must see!
Military cemeteries and adoption graves
Through the years I got fascinated by the military cemeteries. By now I’ve visited many.
Because of this fascination, I got interested in adopting American war graves. It started with one grave at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, the grave of Clemit Lipe. Soon another one followed and at the moment I have adopted 20 adoption graves, seven from World War 1 and twelve from World War 2, divided over 7 American Cemeteries in Belgium, France and the Netherlands, 1 Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium, 1 in France and on the Menin Gate and 2 German cemeteries in Belgium.
I hope you get inspired by my pictures and travel reports on this personal website and you get some inspiration to do your own trips concerning the subject. If you wish, I can give you my personal advice about places you should visit. You can always contact me for this, or if you have some special tips for me or critics on my website.