War cemeteries across West Flanders stand immaculate thanks to the great work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but the many Brits who usually throng these places at this time of year have stayed away. Natasja’s hotel is closed, but staff have volunteered to place wooden crosses with a traditional poppy by the headstones marking the grave of loyal guests’ relatives.
Last year the hotel started the initiative for guests who could no longer make the journey, but this year the need is even greater. 210 people sent in a form seeking assistance to place a wooden cross at a relative’s headstone.
Some loyal guests even sent in requests for graves across the border in France, but these will have to wait until after Armistice Day.
“British people are so grateful” says Natasja. “They set great store by tradition and are particularly faithful”.