WW I related, Ieper
If you are interested in seeing one of the trenches from WWI, the Yorkshire trench is a reconstructed British trench located at the original spot. You can walk down into the trenches for an idea what it was like to be inside the confined and claustraphobic area that these soldiers fought in. There's no charge to see the trench.
It's is located near the village of Boezinge and was a little hard to find even with a map that we got from the tourist office. We had to get out 2 or 3 times and ask for directions, it's located on a street that is filled with industrial buildings which disappointed my husband a bit, sort of hard to imagine the battlefield with a bunch of concrete buildings surrounding it.
This website has directions and some further information on the trench.
The tourism office had a list of several other trenches that could be visited, several of them had admission fees.
The Last Post
The Last Post association was found by thankful civilians after the Great war in 1928.
Since then, every day at 8pm no matter how bad the weather may be, clarionplayers blow the Last Post at the Menin Gate to commemorate the fallen and missed and fallen soldiers.
Also the fallen soldiers of the then enemy are recalled during this ceremony.
(The picture and the text is more clear when you enlarge it)
This museum about the Great War and the battle of Passchendaele is new since 2004. The location, in the Normandy- style castle of Zonnebeke is absolutely fabulous. If not going for the museum, go for the park and the castle!
Authentic pictures, dioramas and a large collection of historical objects, remains of the war...
This is very interesting and different from the museum "In Flander's Fields": the reconstruction of a British dug-out in the 6 m deep cellars of the castle, with a communication- and red cross post, head quarters and sleeping-place. Complete with sound, faint discontinuous light, water- pump, mouldy smell etc.
Exact location: in the park of Zonnebeke, a few kilometers east of Ypres. To visit the several "war" spots, is perfectly possible to rent a bike in Ypres.
It's a signposted car route of 82 kilometers, which opens up the region of Ieper, Heuvelland, Zonnebeke and Poperinge with numerous First World War Sites, cemeteries and monuments.
If you are an addict of the Great War, this route is highly recommended.
We visited the British "Canada Farm cemetery" in Elverdinghe, between Ypres and Poperinge.
It's just one of multiple small army cemeteries in the region. It's not really a special attraction, but once immerged into the "Great War atmosphere", it's a poignant place.
At the rear of the cathedral is an Irish Cross, a memorial to the men of Munster (the area around Cork) who fell in this area in the First World War.
' In memory of those men of Munster who died fighting for freedom. A tribute erected by the people of the province and Cork its capital city. '
There are, and I think there always will be, fresh wreaths on all such memorials.
'They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.'
In Ypres Salient, area so called around Ypres where the battle was fought severely and hard in the trenches, digged in the heavy muddy soil, you will find the little city Passendale. Just outside the centre you will find the most known commonwealth cemetary Tyn Cot cemetary.
There are 3 old German bunkers build (triangle position towards each other) and the middle one is covered by a war monument with cross.
Behind that cross you will find a few graves that are not lined up like all the rest is. Those are the graves of the ones burried at the spot. All others were brought to here and burried afterwards.
Every grave has it's own sign depicting what nationality, what regiment, what grave, the war hero has.
Some however are " only known to God".
These are the ones whomes names are engraved in the wall at the back of the cementary.
This is a panoramic picture, please click on it to be able to view it completely.
Location : Canadalaan 26 - Zillebeke
You find this location, a few km's from the Ieper city centre, a small side road on the road from Ieper towards Menen.
Here you can visit Hill 62. There is a museum showing all kind of weapons, ammunition, tools, and also authentic pictures and slides. But there are also the trenches; these Trenches are kept as they where in the Great War. It is a strange experience to walk through those Trenches and vaulted passage ways.
Of course this can be a bit muddy and slippery, so where good shoes (by preference not your best Sunday shoes . . .)
After your visit you should continue this road (Canadalaan), at the end you find a Canadian War Monument, and from this spot you have a great view over the battlefields which surrounded Ieper. Also you can see different War Cemeteries with the white gravestones spread in the landscape.
Most tourists who travel around Ypres will be visiting the cemeteries and museums from WW1 that surround the town. I hope that this short list will identify places where you can have a break. Belgian bar opening times can be erratic so don't blame me if they're closed.
Hooge Crater has a museum and bar. It's popular with coaches so go down Meenstraat (Menin Road) to the Bar Canada by the road to Hill 62 or Het Canon by Birr crossroads cemetery.
Polygon Wood has several bars and cafes on Lang Dreve to the north of the wood. I reccomend der Akkewinde.
Langemarck is a good place to head for from the German cemetery or Tyne Cot. I reccomend der Kollebloem on the church square.
Lijsenthoek is one of the largest cemeteries and on the road back to Poperinghe is the Die Laan Estaminet.
Hill 62 has a museum and bar which is basic or you can go back to Bar Canada or Het Canon.
Hill 60 in Zillebeke also has a museum and bar opposite the hill and memorials.
The Canadian memorial has a bar opposite it in St Julian.
There are other bars in the villages around Ypres but these are a few to be going on with.
Ieper and it's battle have gone into history and the town itself was remodeled in it's former shape. The lands surrounding this magnificent town however were scarred for life as everywhere the cemetries are. Cemetries of the frontline, curving from the North along the East towards the South of town. But also cemetries near Ieper and even further behind the forntline. How many men died after being wounded and transported to one of the fieldhospitals? How many were hit by artillery fire that reached far behind the tranches? The land is covered with a mist of sad memories and the many cemetries are a part of that. Surrounding Ieper there are 147 of them, scattered throughout the countryside.
Lieutenant-Colonel John MacCrae was a military surgeon when serving in Belgium. He wrote the famous "In Flanders Fields" poem that still touches many hearts. Born in Canada, he studeed medicine in Montreal and enlisted in 1914. He wrote his touching poem while being in the tranches of Ypres Saillant and just after loosing a dear friend. In 1918 he was wounded himself and did not recover. He died in an army hospital in Boulogne sur Mer. His poem made the poppy an everlasting symbol of war sacrifices. First seen on the graves in Flanders and now all over the world, are the wooden crosses with in it's middle four red leaves and a black dot.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, stull bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below
We are the dead, Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lay
In Flanders fields
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch. be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
To see the cemetries (and other memorials, monuments as well as non-war-realted items) one can obtain the In Flanders flieds car route (see my transport tips). Driving around Ieper one can also follow the well appointed green arrows with the various names of the cemetries on them. Here is for example the small New Irish cemetry, just North of Ieper.
If you are travelling by car from the French ports towards Ypres, this cemetery is an extremely interesting place to stop, 12kms southwest of Poperinge. It is at the location of the Remy Sidings casualty clearing hospital, where the badly injured soldiers arriving by railway from Ypres would have their first opportunity to find surgeons, operating theatres and major medical intervention. Lijssenthoek was chosen because it was safely outside the range of the German guns. There were several hospitals run by several different nations. Needless to say, many men died of their wounds and the Lijssenthoek Cemetery on the site has almost 10,000 graves.
Most interesting is the beautiful modern visitor centre, with graphic displays, photos, maps and computers to locate war diaries and personal information. I later found out that my Great-great Uncle Wilf was treated at the Canadian Hospital here in October 1917, en-route to an even bigger hospital at Rouen.
Don't forget to walk along the main road to the cemetery gate because there is an extremely clever iron fence which deserves a closer look. It records the numbers of dead, day by day.
Visitor Center open 9am to 6pm daily.
Tyne Cot Cemetary, the name may mean little to most, but for those who participated in World War 1, it may mean the place where many friends are buried. We walked among the resting places of those soldiers who gave their lives to protect their country and brothers in arms, in the case the British. The area around Ypres (Ieper) is filled with graveyard/memorials to those soldiers.
You can see more at: http://www.firstworldwar.com/today/tynecot.htm