Great War cemeteries remain reminders of the slaughter in the Nord. It was here, too, in the forest house at Ors that British officer Wilfred Owen is remembered for his wartime poetry; at Fromelles 250 British and Australian dead were reburied at a new cemetery in 2010. Such events, along with wartime memorabilia at Fort Seclin or the monument to New Zealanders killed while liberating Le Quesnoy bring home the ferocity of battles such as that for Cambrai, when tanks were used for the first time.
While the 1940 evacuation of some 340,000 English and French troops, helped define the Dunkirk spirit, it involved considerable sacrifice. Not least was the Nazi massacre, at the riverside village of Esquelbecq, of some 100 soldiers trapped by the advancing German forces. In Tourcoing, the Musée message Verlaine, once a German headquarters, traces the messages that preceded the D-Day Landings. It also recalls the vital role played by Lille–born Charles de Gaulle as leader of the Free French Forces.
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