Shelling in the Great War destroyed virtually everything on the front line and in the surrounding area. On top of that, gas attacks, which first started on April 22nd 1915, killed off any living creatures. Animals came out of their burrows to die: all around there were dead rats, rabbits and mice. At the farms, the animals lay dead in the stables: horses, cows, chickens, all were dead, as well as all the insects.
Virtually no trees survived the war because of both the gas and the shelling. But, in the grassland at Pondfarm, there is still one tree, an old oak, that survived the shelling, the fire and the gas. This remarkable exception has now reached the age of more than a hundred years.
The Old Oak Tree:
Now over 100 years old, this oak tree has to be one of the oldest trees in St. Julien: an old and silent witness which survived the Great War. In the summer, its large crown provides shadow and shelter in the grassland for the cows to enjoy.
(English translation Frank Mahieu & Roger Joye)