Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby SuffolkBlue on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 1:28 pm

I've been meaning to visit Ypres for a number of years, so I planned a day trip to fit in as much as possible over the Christmas break. A 3am start and after a slight delay at the Eurotunnel, i arrived in Flanders around 9.30am. The first stop was the German war cemetery in Langemark, about 5 miles north east of Ypres. Langemark is one of only four German military cemeteries in Belgium and is the only German cemetery in the Ypres Salient. The area saw heavy fighting in autumn 1914, spring 1915 and again in September 1917. More than 44,000 soldiers are buried here. As I have found with the German cemetery in Normandy, it's quite a dark atmosphere with next to no colour within the site (granted, not helped by the weather)

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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

The mass grave that contains 24,917 servicemen, of which 7,977 are unknown
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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Two of the German pillboxes, situated on the front line, within the cemetery
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Langemark German War Cemetery - Langemark-Poelkapelle, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Next was the short drive over to the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. 11,965 soldiers are buried here, of which 8,369 are unnamed. As with Langemark, pictures can't do this justice and seeing row after row of unknown graves is extremely heart wrenching. I didn't get as much time here as I would have liked as the weather closed in with heavy rains and winds.

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Also at Tyne Cot, behind the Cross of Sacrifice which was constructed on top of an old German pillbox in the middle of the cemetery, there are 4 German graves, buried alongside Commonwealth graves. These graves are of men that were treated here after the battle, when the pillbox underneath the main cross was used as a Dressing Station for wounded men.
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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes-up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, one of several Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials to the Missing along the Western Front. The UK missing lost in the Ypres Salient are commemorated at the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres and the Tyne Cot Memorial. Upon completion of the Menin Gate, builders discovered it was not large enough to contain all the names as originally planned. They selected an arbitrary cut-off date of 15 August 1917 and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot memorial instead. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces, plus a further 1,176 New Zealanders.
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Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing - Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing - Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery - Passendale, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Next I made the trip to the Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62, situated 3 miles east of Ypres near the village of Hooge. A preserved section of the British trench lines is located behind the museum. The rain had turned to drizzle and the temperature was around freezing. I had the luxury of having the heating on full in the car after each stop, but it was so easy to imagine what it must have been like sitting in those trenches with the mud and shelling 100 years ago.
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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Museum Hill 62 - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Just next to the museum is Sanctuary Wood Cemetery. 1,989 are buried here of which only 637 are identified graves.

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Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Sanctuary Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery - Hooge, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Hill 60 was the next destination to head to. The site comprises two areas of raised land separated by a railway line; the northern area was known by soldiers as Hill 60 while the southern part was known as The Caterpillar.

The earth excavated during the building of the railway was dumped on either side of the embankment and formed hillocks. On the west side, a long irregular mound atop the ridge was called The Caterpillar and a smaller mound 270 m down the slope towards Zillebeke, was known as The Dump. On the east side of the cutting, at the highest point of the ridge, was a third mound known as Hill 60.

By October 1916, the mine under Hill 60 held 24,200 kg of explosives and that under The Caterpillar 32,000 kg. The 1st Australian Tunnelling Company took over in November 1916 and maintained the mines beneath Hill 60 and The Caterpillar over the winter and months of underground fighting until June 1917, when they were fired along with the rest of the mines under Messines Ridge at the beginning of the Battle of Messines (7–14 June 1917). When the mines were detonated at 3:10 a.m. on 7 June 1917, 450,000 kg of explosives went off under the German positions, demolishing a large part of Hill 60 and killing approx 10,000 German soldiers between Ypres and Ploegsteert.

The crater at Hill 60
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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

From this picture you can see where the French / British front line was, with the German front just below the set of steps
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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Caterpillar Crater - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Caterpillar Crater - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

This memorial commemorates the men of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company. The plaque was damaged during the fighting on Hill 60 during the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940.
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1st Australian Tunnelling Company Memorial - Hill 60, Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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1st Australian Tunnelling Company Memorial - Hill 60, Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Hill 60 - Zillebeke, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

By the time I arrived in Ypres the rain had (finally!) stopped. There are numerous cemeteries across the town but I only paid a visit to the Ypres Extension Cemetery. From both wars, 788 men are buried here including Prince Maurice of Battenberg, the youngest grandchild of Queen Victoria. He was known as Prince Maurice of Battenberg throughout his life, since he died before the British Royal Family relinquished their German titles during World War I and the Battenbergs changed their name to Mountbatten.

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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Ypres Town Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Extension - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Then i headed into the town centre itself. The Menin Gate is just an incredible memorial which like everything else, pictures cannot do it justice. The names of the missing are listed on panels inside, outside and on the columns, 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers in total.

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

The Cloth Hall was one of the largest commercial buildings of the Middle Ages. The original structure, erected mainly in the 13th century and completed 1304, lay in ruins after artillery fire devastated Ypres. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition. I paid a visit to the In Flanders Field Museum located inside, which is a must see if you're in the area
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Cloth Hall - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Then it was back to the Menin Gate to see the Last Post. As i'm sure most of you already know, the Last Post ceremony is played at the Gate every evening at 8pm and has done since 2 July 1928 (expect during German occupation in WW2).
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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

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The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing - Ypres, Belgium, Friday 29th December 2017 by Chris Day, on Flickr

Then it was the short drive back to Calais and I eventually got back at 1am...a long but thoroughly worthwhile day. I'll head back again in the Spring when hopefully the weather plays ball.

Thanks for looking
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SuffolkBlue

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby FarnboroJohn on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 1:53 pm

I think it was Ludendorff who remarked "Rain- our best ally" during the 1917 campaign. I think you had appropriate weather to see Ypres!

John
FarnboroJohn

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby neville on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 3:07 pm

Very poignant and also educational, thank you for posting...
neville

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby The Baron on Sun 31 Dec 2017, 4:52 pm

You squeezed a lot in to a very short space of time! Some very moving places you visited, especially Sanctuary Wood - a real eye opener. What I've found is that the smaller cemeteries are much better for reflection than the likes of Tyne Cot.
Loafer for Mr. Da Vinci.
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The Baron

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby Burleysway on Mon 01 Jan 2018, 8:56 am

Thanks for posting. We’re planning to go at Easter.......
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Burleysway

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby davidjones533 on Mon 01 Jan 2018, 11:40 am

Thanks for posting. I visited much of this on a school trip many years ago, but had no idea at that time that one of my ancestors fought with the 4th Battalion of the Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment in the Battle of St. Julien, part of the wider Second Battle of Ypres. I must go back at some point.
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davidjones533

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby wv383 on Mon 01 Jan 2018, 12:51 pm

A very poignant set of photos. Thanks for posting.
wv383

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby Brevet Cable on Tue 02 Jan 2018, 3:07 pm

Anyone visiting one of the WW1 battlefields who had ancestors serving there could do worse than go on the National Archives website and splash out £3:50 for a copy of the War Diary for the unit they served with.
Each Diary covers one year or so, so you may need to purchase more than one.

If you haven't already checked, 4 Bn POW (YR) were part of 150 Inf Bgd.
Their War Diary for the period of Second Ypres is here : http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C14055723
Brevet.. Meh !!
Not an enthusiast or a spotter
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Brevet Cable

Re: Ypres Salient - Friday 29th December 2017

Postby timuss on Tue 02 Jan 2018, 10:43 pm

Very interesting a trip that must be so incredibly moving and humbling, i really want to get over there someday.
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