PIERRE's PHOTO IMPRESSIONS of the WESTERN FRONT
1914-1918
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              Pierre Grande Guerre
              shows his
              photo impressions
              of his trips along
              the Western Front
              with his selfmade photo's,
              historic pictures,
              and maps.
              Few words,
              many pictures,
              and many links.
               
              Pierre
               
               
              Warning: Sometimes on the battlefield
              you will still find relics of explosives.
              All these shells, hand grenades, and
              mortar rounds can even nowadays still
              be very dangerous.
              Some of the artillery bombs may contain
              poison gas, which can cause severe
              blistering or worse injuries.
              In France it is by law forbidden to
              remove relics from the battlefield.
              So, it is for your own safety:
              take a picture of the steel harvest,
              but leave these relics untouched!
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              Pierre is a Dutch member
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              Central Ontario Branch
              of the Western Front
              Association,
              In 2015 awarded with
              a lifetime membership!
               
              And a member of:
               
               
              The Western Front
              Association Nederland
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              LINKS TO THE SPECIAL

              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS

              NEW! Pierre's Illustrated

              Lecture "Verdun 1916" - (Dutch)

              Pierre's illustrated

              WFA-NL lectures:

              The Tactical Significance 

               of General Gaede - (Bilingual)

              The Difficult Start

              of the L.I.R. 123 - (Eng)

              De Moeizame Start van

              het L.I.R. 123 - (Dutch)

              De Rode Duivels

              op de Hartmannswillerkopf (Dutch)

              De Blauwe Duivels

              in de Vogezen (Dutch)

              Botchkareva en haar

              Vrouwenbataljon (Dutch)

              Mata Hari -

              Het Spionagedossier (Dutch)

              More Special

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              of the Western Front (English) 

              Armistice Clearing Compiègne

              Kaiser's Exile Huis Doorn

              Cambrai

              Fort de Mutzig - Feste Kaiser Wilhelm II

              Colmar and Hansi, the Illustrator 

              The Red Baron's Crash Site

              Canadian National Vimy Memorial

              SOMME 1918 The Australians

              Fricourt Archeological Excavations

              Traces of Bairnsfather  - Xmas Truce

              Yorkshire Trench and Dugout

              Bayernwald Trenches Inside 

              LINKS TO ALL
              BATTLEFIELD
              PHOTO IMPRESSIONS
              in the CORRECT SEQUENCE

              AISNE 

              Chemin des Dames part 1 

              Chemin des Dames part 2 - Dragon's Cave

              Chemin des Dames part 3     

              ALSACE LORRAINE

              The Gap of Charmes - La Trouée de C.

              Avricourt - Leintrey - Reillon - Montreux - Parux 

              Montreux German Front Walk

              The Battle of Morhange - 1914

              French Bunkers - Mnt. Grand Couronné 

              South of Metz - German Bunkers -

              Feste Wagner 

              ALSACE VOSGES NORTH

              Tête du Violu - Bernhardstein

              Chaume de Lusse - Haute de Faîte

              Bertrimoutier - Frapelle  

              Ban de Sapt - La Fontenelle

              Senones - la Roche Mère Henry

              Col de la Chipotte - de la Chapelotte

              The Donon - Bunkers - Dug-outs

              ALSACE VOSGES  

              Col du Bonhomme Col de Mandray

              Tête de Faux - Buchenkopf 

              Col du Wettstein - Schratzmännele

              Lingekopf - le Linge  

              Kleinkopf - Barrenkopf 

              Hohrodberg-Giragoutte-Trois Epis  

              Reichackerkopf  

              Munster Valley Petit Ballon  

              Le Tanet - Bichtstein - Villa Sidi-Brahim

              Route des Crêtes - Hohneck -

              Gr. Ballon - Sudelkopf 

              Hartmannswillerkopf - Vieil Armand  

              Guebwiller - Rimbach - Hirzstein  

              Moosch Nécropole Nationale  

              ALSACE SUNDGAU  

              Zillisheim Illfurth Largitzen Pfetterhouse 

              Burnhaupt-le-Bas Bunker Path     

              ARGONNE

              Mort Homme Côte 304

              Montfaucon- Romagne s/s Montfaucon

              Butte de Vauquois

              Haute Chevauchée

              The Bunker of the German Crownprince

              ARTOIS

              Illies - Wicres    

              Neuve Chapelle - Richebourg

              Aubers - 1915 

              Fromelles - 1916  

              Neuville-St. Vaast - Souchez

              Notre Dame de Lorette 

              Loos

              Arras Wellington Quarry

              Vimy Ridge

              Lichfield Crater

              CHAMPAGNE

              St. Hilaire le Grand Russian Cmty  Mont Navarin

              Sommepy Mont de Blanc Mont

              La Main des Massiges

              MARNE 

              Verberie Néry Villers Cotterêts  

              First Battle of the Marne   

              Belleau Wood - Château Thierry  

              Second Battle of the Marne

              SAINT MIHIEL

              Les Eparges Ridge

              Calonne Trenches Tranchée

              Fort de Troyon

              Apremont Forest Trenches

              Butte de Montsec

              Rémenauville Destroyed Village

              le Bois le Prêtre / das Priesterwald 

              SOMME British Sector

              SOMME INTRODUCTION

              Auchonvillers Trench

              Mine Craters Lochnagar Hawthorn

              Thiepval Memorial Mouquet Farm  

              Thiepval Wood - Ulster Tower

              Ovillers La Boiselle

              Hawthorn Ridge Beaumont Hamel

              Redan Ridge 

              Newfoundland Memorial Park  

              Serre Hébuterne 

              Sheffield Memorial Park Serre

              Gommecourt 

              Fricourt Deutsche Kriegsgräberstatte 

              Contalmaison 

              Mametz Wood 

              Trones Wood Montauban Guillemont

              Caterpillar Valley Longueval 

              High Wood Longueval

              Delville Wood Longueval

              Pozières  

              Martinpuich

              le Sars Butte de Warlencourt

              Flers Gueudecourt

              Adanac Canadian Cmty. Mireaumont

              SOMME French Sector 

              Bouchavesnes

              Rancourt Cimetière National

              Rancourt Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof

              Dompierre - Becquincourt Fay Soyécourt

              Flaucourt Biaches

              VERDUN

              VERDUN Citadel 

              Thiaumont - PC 118 & 119 - A 320

              Road To Fort Douaumont       

              Fort de Douaumont

              Douaumont Nécropole Nationale  

              Côte Froideterre - Les 4 Chéminées 

              Fort de Souville 

              Fort de Vaux 

              Tunnel de Tavannes Fort

              La Voie Sacrée

              Bois des Caures - Col. Driant's C.P. 

              Flabas German Reprisals Camp

              The German Camp Marguerre 

              Duzey German 380mm Artillery Base

              Destroyed Villages Bezonvaux - Ornes

              Azannes - Damvillers - La Grande Montagne 

              YPRES

              Menin Road Railway Wood

              Maple Copse - Hill 62 - Hooge

              Clapham Junction Zandvoorde Bunker

              Polygon Wood Zonnebeke

              Hill 60 - Hollebeke -

              St. Elooi - Lankhof Farm

              Messines Ridge

              Pilkem Ridge

              Boezinge Essex Farm Ziegler Bunker

              Langemark Poelkapelle St. Juliaan

              Passchendaele Ridge

              Mount Kemmel Lettenberg Bunkers

              Ploegsteert Wood

              YZER

              Nieuport Ramskapelle

              Pervijze  Stuijvekenskerke

              Diksmuide Trench of Death 

              Leke Vladslo Houthulst

              OTHER GREAT WAR LINKS

              Pierre's Nederlandstalige
              artikelen en columns
              over de Grote Oorlog
               
              (Copy & Paste de titel in de
              zoekmachine!) 
               
              Bochkareva en haar Vrouwenbataljon
              Bretonse Bécassine tijdens de Oorlog
              De Vanceboro Bridge Bomaanslag
              Beneath Hill 60
              Tijdreizen Op Internet
              Leutnant Von Forstner Koopt Chocolade
              Duitslands Oudste Oorlogsvrijwilliger
              Marcel's Bajonet
              Souvenir de Bezonvaux
              Namibië-Etnische Zuivering-1904-1908
              Het Beleg van Fort de Vaux
              Explosiecatastrofe In Fort Douaumont 
              Franse Aas der Azen: René Fonck
              Chasseurs Alpins, Franse Alpenjagers
              Prowse Point Cemetery
              Hoe Sgt. Kunze Fort Douaumont
                 veroverde op 25-02-1916.
              Frank Hurley: Fotoshoppen In 1917
              De Kaiserschlacht,
                 een beknopte samenvatting.
              Herdenking Op Douaumont 2008
              Wapenstilstand 1918 -90 Jaar Geleden
              Vijfde Lustrum WFA Nederland,
                 11-10-2008.
              Geur van Drukinkt
              De Vallei van Munster
              Der Rote Baron Versus Flyboys 
              De Fantomen van Landowski
              Louise de Bettignies -
                 Queen of English Spies
              Monument Op Vimy Ridge
              De Erewacht van
                 Notre Dame de Lorette
              Tank Tegen Tank 90 Jaar Terug
              Von Richthofen's Laatste Noodlanding
              Generaal Von Lettow Vorbeck
              Grafschennis Notre Dame de Lorette
              Google Earth 
              De Kaiserschlacht 90 Jaar Geleden 
              De Wolfsberg - le Hamel
              Overleden Veteranen
              Franse Sector Aan De Somme
              Kerstbestand 1914
              Raadselachtig Graf
              Caporetto; Kiem Van Fascisme
              Lenin's Treinreis
              Tsjechen Aan Het Westelijk Front
              Mata Hari
              325 Miljoen Voor 12 Zeppelins
              Slagvelden Van de Somme
              Schroot
              Op de Lingekopf
              Weinig Duitse Monumenten
                  Somme
              Soldaten Standbeelden
              Mosterdgas 1917
              Schwaben Redoubt
              Oogst Van Roest
              Mortier
              De Tekenaar Hansi
              Gifgas Bij Vancouver Corner
              Nationaliteit Kwijt?
              Beloond Geduld
              Prins Harry Naar Irak
              Thiepval
              De Arm Van De Kaiser
              Artilleriebunkers Nabij Duzey
              Kamp Flabas
              Eerherstel voor "Deserteurs"
              Vredig plekje?
              Moslimmonument in Verdun 
              Bayernwald
              De Slag aan de Somme
              De Tunnel van Tavannes
              Kapitein Joost van Vollenhoven
              Huis Doorn
              Update
                 “Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje II
              Raadselachtig Ansichtkaartje I 

               

               












              Bezonvaux - Ornes
               
              Verdun:
               
              The Destroyed Villages of
               
              Bezonvaux and Ornes
               
               year of visit: 2009. 
              A photo report of a visit on a rainy morning to the Destroyed Villages of Bezonvaux and Ornes, along the 1916 German jump-off line, some 12 km. north-east of Verdun.
               
              In the pouring rain we depart from Vaux devant Damloup,
              and follow the D 24 northward.
              We pass this after war demarcation stone
              on the east side of the road.
               
               
              Often the emphasis of my impressions is on the military events of the locations of the Western Front. The sites of "Les Villages Détruits", the Destroyed Villages, like Douaumont, Fleury and Vaux remind us of the fate of the civilians along the Western Front. The civilians were often forced to evacuate their houses, were lying under artillery bombardments, lost their houses, were wounded, killed, or executed, etc.
              This map of Hanotaux below represents all regions in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, which were affected by the Western Front. These regions were for the most part quite densely populated. Due to the combats, battles and destruction many civilians were forced to flee to another location.
               
              This trip we pay a visit to two destroyed villages,
              north-east of Verdun: Bezonvaux and Ornes.
               
               
              Bezonvaux.
               
               
              After a sharp curve of the D 24 we arrive at
              the Bezonvaux Memorial.
               
               
              "THE COMMUNITY OF BEZONVAUX
               
              IN MEMORY 
              OF THE
              DESTROYED VILLAGE
              IT'S CHILDREN
              DIED AT THE FIELD OF HONOR
              AND IT'S HEROES
              FALLEN ON THEIR TERRITORY
               
              SOLDIERS OF BEZONVAUX
               
              (4 names)
               
              CIVILIAN VICTIMS
               
              (3 names)
               
              SOLDIER
               
              GILLE Nicolas Auguste
              DISAPPEARED NEAR MAUCOURT
              9 NOVEMBER 1914"
               
               
               
              A bronze relief on the memorial shows us
              an image of the former village of Bezonvaux.
               
               
               
              Next to the memorial are some traces
              of shell holes and a demarcation stone.
               
               
              "BEZONVAUX
              From here was forced back the enemy"
               
               
              At the corner of the road to the village stands an illustrated,
              comprehensive text on an information panel.
               
              It tells us, that this was the location of
              the "Café / Bureau de Tabac", where Sergeant Maginot
              and his scouts of the 44th R.I.T. had their quarters
              during the autumn of 1914.
               
               
              (Read more about André Maginot in my photo impression about
               
               
              A first glance at the high street, the Grande Rue of Bezonvaux.
               
               
               
              Before we continue our exploration of Bezonvaux,
              some concise information.
               
               
              Bezonvaux is one of the nine destroyed villages around Verdun.  It was a hamlet of some 150 inhabitants, which has been evacuated on 15 February 1916, just six days before the offensive would start. The village is mainly destroyed by French artillery fire of 1916, and has "died for France".
               
               
              The fate of Bezonvaux is connected to the fate of Ornes. In September 1914 the front line in this region, Ornes, Vaux, Abaucourt, is held by the French 67th Division. At the end of the year 1914 and in 1915 the Germans occupy the heights near Ornes, and sporadically shell the village of Bezonvaux. This situation persists until the date of the offensive of 21 February 1916.
               
               
              By early 1916 the population experiences the violence of modern combat. Their properties damaged, they are condemned to flee.  They have to abandon their homes “with the hope in their heart of returning one day to the country of their heritage and their roots”.
               
              Until 24 February 1916 Ornes remains outside the battle, but from 7 o'clock in the morning, the village suffers incessant attacks. Being locked in from three sides the commander of the garrison evacuates at 18 hours Ornes and retreats to Bezonvaux, where  the 44th R.I. holds the recently restored line near Bezonvaux. Though the village is by now isolated and under a barrage of fire the German infantry advances on Bezonvaux and Douaumont. The improvised defences of the 44th R.I. fall one by one.
              On 25 February 1916 the 4th B.C.P. and  the 44th R.I. desperately try to resist in the village. At 17.00 hours the Germans redouble their efforts and break the lines, and the defence is for the 4th B.C.P. defending the village foot by foot. The encirclement of the Germans is gradually tightened and at dusk, when almost all defenders have fallen, the Germans occupy Bezonvaux. The same day, the Fort de Douaumont is taken.
               
               
              On 10 December 1916 the French Army launches a tremendous introducing artillery bombardment on the German positions. On 15 December at ten o’clock  the French troops mount an assault on the German lines between Vacherauville and Eix. They are composed of four divisions, among these the best regiments of the 126th, 38th, 37th and 133rd R.I.. In particular three prestigious regiments, the 2nd and 3rd Zouaves and the 3rd Algerian Tirailleurs of  the 37th Infantry Division, make progress all day long.
               
              The Battle of Three Days - 16-18 December 1916.
               
               
              At 16 December 1916 around 2.00  AM the French troops resume the attack. Their aim is to capture Bezonvaux. After taking the key positions of the Lübeck trench and of the Kaiserslautern trench the attackers take a lot of Germans prisoner. Next the Zouaves make their connection with the 102nd Bataillon Chasseurs â Pied (B.C.P.) belonging to the 133rd Infantry Division. The Zouaves and the Chasseurs are ordered to guard the edges of the village, but the number of defenders and the ruins block their advance. Finally at the 17th, despite an error by the French artillery and despite violent German bombardments, the French troops clear Bezonvaux completely of its previous occupants.

              The attack did not exceed the original target, and in this sector the front would stabilize for the next two years. The front line near Bezonvaux, that the Germans would keep until the Armistice on 11 November 1918, is just outside village, symbolized by the demarcation stone near the north-east entrance to the former village.
               
               
              We continue our walk along the Grande Rue.
              On the right runs the brook, or the "Ruisseau de Bezonvaux".
               
               
              Between the ruins there are a lot of shell holes.
               
               
              Silent witnesses of the village activities are preserved
              on concrete tiles.
               
               
              "Ruined mechanical parts
              Iron hardware of window blinds"
               
               
              "Hub of a machine to make hay."
               
               
              "Pickaxe, wrenched by the shock of an artillery grenade.
              Garden tools."
               
               
               

              The Mayor of Bezonvaux.
               
              During our visit Christine and I had a fortuitous meeting with Monsieur J.P. Laparra. Monsieur Laparra told me during our pleasant conversation, that he has been elected by the descendants of the former inhabitants of Bezonvaux to "Maire" (Mayor) of Bezonvaux. Monsieur Laparra is responsible for the exceptional well preserved ruins of the village and the artefacts on the concrete tiles. Monsieur Laparra is also the author of the many information panels with comprehensive, very interesting texts about the history of the village during the Great War.
              A large part of my knowledge is based on the information signs of Monsieur Laparra in the village and his patient answers to my questions.
              Without the careful guardianship of gentlemen like Monsieur Laparra these sites would be forgotten and would perhaps even be transformed into parking places. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Laparra, thank you very much, for your work to preserve this site and it's history.
               
              (Dutch readers, read my column about our meeting with Mr. Laparra and click on "Souvenir de Bezonvaux".)
               
              We continue our walk through the ruins westward.
               
               
              "Slab hit by a shrapnel grenade."
               
               
               
              "Parts of a plough."
               
               
              A milk container for farmers.
               
               
              At the west end of the village lie the ruins of
              the Château of Bezonvaux, the largest house.
               
               
              South of this location stands the relic of an artillery carriage.
               
               
               
              The carriage was meant to carry grenades and hay for the horses.
               
               
              A view over the shelled ruins eastward.
               
               
               
               
              Near this spot: the twisted relics of a mini 60cm. railway.
               
               
               
              The German Railway Network.
               
               
               
               
              We cross the bridge of the Ruisseau de Bezonvaux.
               
               
              We near the presbytery of the village priest.
               
               
               
               
              Near the former location of the village church ...
               
               
              ... lies the broken barrel of an artillery gun.
               
               
              At the former location of the village church
              stands the 1927 Memorial Chapel of Bezonvaux.
               
               
              While the rain is pouring down again, we leave Bezonvaux, ...
               
               
              ... and continue northward to Ornes.
               
               
              Just before the modern hamlet, at the east side of the road,
              is located the Ornes Memorial.
               
               
              It honours Ornes' fallen soldiers, and nine civilians,
              those who died in captivity.
               
               
              It is also a tribute to three executed civilians and two children,
              "killed by a grenade".
               
              On 15 September, during an artillery bombardment on Ornes, the 15 year old Lucienne Collignon fled in a cellar, carrying her 3 months old baby brother, Edmond, in her arms.  Lucienne was hit in the head by a shell fragment. By the impact he girl dropped her brother. The girl died the same day. Her baby brother, severely wounded by his fall, died 13 days later, on 28 September 1914.
               
              Before we walk on, some concise information about Ornes...
               
               
              The Fate of Ornes.
               
              Ornes used to be a larger village than Bezonvaux. The population of Ornes in 1914 counted around 700 people. The inhabitants of villages like Vaux, Douaumont, Bezonvaux and Ornes lived of agriculture and craft. Ornes had more mills and workshops than other villages in the area. Ornes was also more prosperous than the other villages.
               
               
              From 10 august 1914 the French army did set up a field hospital in the spinning factory of Ornes. From that day Ornes received the first wounded men, arriving from the Battle of Mangiennes (10-25 August 1914).
              On 25 august the Commander of Verdun requested the inhabitants of Ornes to evacuate their village. Initially a large part of the population obeyed the request, but later, after the First Battle of the Marne, a large part of these refugees returned to the village.
               
               
              The Germans did set up a position east of Ornes at the "Jumelles d'Ornes", the double heights of hill 307 en 310. The village was not yet occupied by French troops nor by the Germans. Patrols of both parties entered the village of Ornes several times. These patrols caused artillery bombardments from both sides.
              During this period the first buildings in the village were destroyed, and the first civilian inhabitants were wounded. As I remarked before, on 15 September, during an artillery bombardment, the children Collignon were killed by a bombardment.
              In the meantime the circumstances in the village become more and more unbearable.  On 9 October 1914 a troop of forty Germans entered the village and ordered the population to gather at the village fountain. A large part of the inhabitants disobeyed and succeeded to escape. Three civilians were executed. Their names are on the Ornes Memorial. The Germans still deported 74 persons, men, women and children to Longuyon. Their deportation ended on 18 October in Zwickau in Saxony. On 28 January 1915 all prisoners were transported back via Switzerland to France with exception of 9 prisoners, who died in captivity and whose names are also mentioned on the Ornes Memorial, and all men in the age between 17 and 60 years old.
               
               
              For the German attackers the jump off lines of February 1916 near Azannes, Ornes and Bezonvaux formed also an important pivotal point in the front line.
              After 18 December 1916 the front line in the east was running from Ornes roughly in a north-south direction. In the other direction the front line ran from Ornes roughly from east to south-west. 
              From the German occupation on 24 February of the Ornes area has been an often contested part of the battlefield and the area knew many combats. In contrary to Bezonvaux, Ornes stayed in German possession until October 1918. The Germans occupied the Jumelles d' Ornes until Armistice Day on 11 November 1918.
               
              The Aftermath of the Destroyed Villages.
               
              The prospect of the refugees of returning to the happiness of living again once in their old villages formed a valuable support in their misery. In 1918 however the reality was alas quite different from their hope. The aftermath of the battles had endangered  the locations of the destroyed villages too much, and the risk of more explosions was too great to hope for a reconstruction. These piles of debris could no longer offer a safe haven or a home for it’s former inhabitants. The refugees were left with nothing but confusion to whom they would appeal for national recognition and survival of their community by legal means. The refugees exerted pressure on local officials, parliamentarians and ministers. They even contacted Raymond Poincaré, also an in habitant of the Département Meuse, and President of the Republic.
              In 1919 a law endowed each destroyed village to a municipal commission and a president, whose powers and prerogatives are those of a mayor. Later on the president will officially be elected or appointed as mayor. In the twenties a chapel, serving also as a shelter, and a war memorial was constructed at all destroyed villages. Like on all other war memorials in still existing villages of France the names “of their children, who died for the fatherland” are inscripted on these war memorials.
               
              (Main sources: J.P. Laparra and J.C. Broek Roelofs. Merci Messieurs!)
               
              At the entrance of the village stands a modest memorial
              with a sign: "PLACE DE CEUX DE VERDUN"
              ("Square of Those of Verdun").
               
               
              Opposite of it is the Ornes Memorial Chapel, ...
               
               
              ... which has been built in 1932.
               
               
              Some 150 meters to the west:
              the ruins of the former village church.
               
               
              A thin sunray is for a short moment
              introducing another, next shower.
               
               
              We seek shelter in our car
              and continue later north-westward to Azannes.
               
               
              On the next photo page this trip will continue to the German Cemeteries of Azannes, Romagne-sous-les-Cotes, Damvillers, the American Memorial at La Grande Montagne, and the German Cemetery of Consenvoye along the Meuse river.
               


              Reacties

              Ben vd Heiden op 03-12-2009 09:41
              Het is weer netjes Pierre.
              Zo zie je maar weer voorbereiding is alles, ben er twee maal geweest (verdun) maar heb dit toch allemaal gemist.
              Next time?
               
              gr. Ben
              Rob Schulze op 03-12-2009 12:09
              Voor iemand die zich in de WO1 geschiedenis van de regio Verdun wilverdiepen ishet door "Pierre Grande Guerre' gepresenteerdeover de verdwenen dorpen eenwelkome studiegids en aansporing tot verder onderzoek.
              Pierre op 04-12-2009 13:04
              @ Ben. @ Rob. Bedankt voor jullie woorden van waardering.
              Of er een “next time” in Verdun op de korte termijn inzit, Ben, weet ik niet. Maar anders zullen wij elkaar volgend voorjaar wel elders aan het front weer ontmoeten en gezamenlijk optrekken, misschien bij Cambrai of uiteraard weer in de Vogezen.
              Dank je wel, Rob, voor jouw aardige aanbeveling voor anderen.
              Ondanks het sombere weer, wens ik jullie beiden een prettig weekend toe.
              Pierre
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