Little sarcastic or cruel: a funpark near Ieper
Near Zillebeke along the Meenseweg is the funpark "Bellewaerde". This rather old park contains of a few rollercoasters and other attractions that could give you a ride of a livetime, but ... I keep wonder if these fields of destruction are a place for such park. Not that one has to grieve every moment of the day, but ... my humble opinion finds it inappropriate.
Hill 60, battle after battle
At Hill 60 the circle of Zillebeke is round. On tour of the "In Flanders Fields" car route one will turn now in the direction of the higher hills near the French border and after that towards Poperinge, further away from the frontline parts that are filled with cemetries and memorials. Hill 60 was of course not the last part of the frontline, but it can be seen as the most South-Eastern in the Ieper Saillant.
Perth cemetry, moving the death
Perth Cemetry, just against the first houses of the village Zillebeke itself has a special part. The cemetry was already longer there, but got a group of moving death extra in the years after the war. This party of 33 fallen allied soldiers was burried in Poelkapelle on the large German cemetry and thus laying their eternal rest "in enemy hands". To remember them a little extra, they are burried not in the same lines as always, but in a large circle in the start of the cemetry.
Hill 60, tunneling coy memorial
At the railroad near Hill 60 is a special memorial for the 1st Australian tunneling coy. As you can imagine, fighting above ground had the risk of being shot any second of the day (and night. The tunneling coys however had another danger and this group of Australian were burried alive when the tunnel they were digging collapsed. A memorial remembers them near Hill 60.
Hill 60 another hill of dead corpses
Hill 60 is just on the other side of the Eastern slopes of Zillebeke. Another hill of strategic importance to either sides and so another place of dramatic victims in a tragic battle lasting four long years. After the hills were almost all fallen into German hands, the British forces changed tactics and started tunneling underneath the hills in the whole Ypres Saillant section of the frontline. A few dozain minechambres underneath these hills were detonated in the same moment, blowing up a significant part of the German frontier tranches. Terrain winning in this battle was only again a few hunderd meters. Death tole around 40.000 on both sides.
Zillebeke in Flanders, a devote area
Along the road through the village one will see them. If it is because of the war, or just because it always has been like this. In and around Zillebeke, as much as in and around every Flanders countryside village or town, there are small chaples and crosses placed at junctions or sometimes even in the midst of ackres and fields. Roman Catholicism still is in the heart of people, though churches here too are getting emptier and emptier each year. The chaples and crosses remain, a wonderful reminder of a great faith.
Hill 62, the Canadian memorial steps
For the Canadians Hill 62 was one of their battlegrounds. Here many of them fell and like in all frontline parts here too many of them fell "nameless". Almost half a million men were killed in and around the Ypres Saillant and almost half of them do not have a grave in sacred soil as their bodies were never retrieved from the mud that covered "no man's land" between the tranches of either side. On top of Hill 62 the Canadians built a memorial that is resambling stairs. Stairs stepping upwards onto the hilltop ... upwards from the hell ... upwards into heaven.
Hill 62 museum and authentic tranches
From the cemetry one rises up to the top of the hill (not that high by the way). Next you will pass the Hill 62 museum, where in the forest behind it one can see authentic parts of the immens tranche-system that was covering the Western Front from the Swiss border to the Belgian coastline. For four long years the front was practically stuck and one shelled every day eachothers positions. Advances were only winning several hundred meters at the cost of thousands. The tranches at Hill 62 museum are worthwhile a short visit as only here one can find authentic tranches. The museum itself is not that special. Rather a small collection of war memorabilias.
Hill 62, a Canadian-German battle ground
Here at Hill 62, just a kilometer from the Meenseweg, a Canadian detachment was covering the frontline. As said before, hills were of strategic importnace and were heavily fought over. Hill 62 saw tragic batlles in which the hilltop was changing sides several times, but actually the frontline only moved a few 100 meters each time at the costs of thousands and thousands of lifes. Before going up the hill one sees the Canadian cemetry.
The cemetry itself on 't Hooge
Where ever you drive in the Ieper Saillant you will see them: the cemetries! Silent but intensive reminders of what happened here. Not stopping at a few is ignorance to the past. Stopping at all of them is hardly possible. There are 147 of them in a wide curve around Ieper. In Zillebeke alone are around ten spread throughout the landscape. Also on 't Hooge, where I start thie journey at my hotel is a cemetry. just across the museum lays 't Hooge cemetry.
Museum 't Hooghe Crater
Next to hotel "Kasteelhof 't Hooghe" in the direction of Ieper is the museum "'t Hooghe Crater". This privately owned and run museum offers a (somewhat messy) collection of war items. Shells, gasmasks, uniforms, guns and an enormous amount of pictures. Some diorama's show lifelarge happenings with dressed dummies. Interesting are the viewing boxes that offer rather realistic (Black & White) scenes from the Great War (slideshow). Outside the museum are the crater that came to be in the mining battle. Aslo are there a few - not authentic! - tranches.
Open daily from 10:00 to 18:00 hours except Mondays (on Wednesday closure one hour earlier). Closed from half December 'til end of Januari.