In 2004 from 25th of April a new museum is opening it's doors. In it - one says - the visitor can experience the hell that soldiers had to o through in the tranches. The memorial museum Passchendaele will also explane everything in detail of the heavy battle that took place in September to November 1917 in which the allied forces advanced forward over twelve kilometers at the cost of almost half a million men.
The battlefields of Flanders, in the 1914-1918 World War created, in just this one place (and there are many more cemeteries in Flanders):
35000 names of missing men on the Memorial Wall.
Nearly 12000 headstones of Allied soldiers. Most of them are of unidentified men.........'known unto God', as their headstones say.
White Portland stone was imported to create the cemetery, which began as a small battlefield burial ground and then, after the war had ended, became a 'concentration cemetery' as battlefield burials elsewhere were gathered up and re-interred.
The grass is closely mown, the headstones pristine, plants and flowers grow around the graves. Poppies are left by visitors, wreaths placed by schoolchildren...........the men are not forgotten.
A most moving place, made even more so by its new Visitors'Centre, where you can see personal artefacts of named soldiers (donated by their families), and learn who just a very few of them were.
Well worth visiting, even if you are not specifically on a battlefield tour/exploration.
The museum is housed in a mansion (1920s), with a rather lovely water-lilied lake. Inside you'll find displays and artefacts from the First World War battlefields in the area, and a good re-creation of a British dugout.
It will, I guarantee, make you think and open your eyes a little to what life was once like for millions of men.
Visit the Memorial Museum
Another "experience" interesting is the visit of the journey was moving trenches in the museum cellars.
One meet again in the middle of restored scenes: commandantuur, infirmary, transmissions, dormitories...
A small idea of what was the life to the forehead without the noises, humidity, the pong...
Une autre "expérience" intéressante est la visite du parcours de tranchées emménagé dans les caves du musée.
On se retrouve au milieu de scènes reconstituées: commandantuur, infirmerie, transmissions, dortoirs...
Une petite idée de ce que fut la vie au front sans les bruits, l'humidité, la puanteur...
Visit the Memorial Museum
A room is devoted to the known used gasses in the region for the first time.
A device is installed so that the visitor can smell the odours of 4 different gasses of which it famous Ypérite.
Of course they are here inoffensive but I must say that I was sharply emotional and uncomfortable of the experience and especially of what it represents.
Une salle est consacrée aux fameux gaz utilisés dans la région pour la première fois.
Un dispositif est installé afin que le visiteur puisse humer les odeurs de 4 gaz différents dont le célèbre Ypérite.
Bien sûr ils sont ici inoffensifs mais je dois dire que j'étais vivement émotionné et mal à l'aise de l'expérience et surtout de ce qu'elle représente .
Visit the Memorial Museum
Besides many photos, one finds here a lot of windows and explanatory panels.
Often grouped together by theme, the visitor will be able to see and discover among others of the elements of uniforms of the different bodies of weapons in presence.
Outre de nombreuses photos, on trouve ici plein de vitrines et panneaux explicatifs.
Souvent regroupés par thème, le visiteur pourra voir et découvrir entre autres des éléments d'uniformes des différents corps d'armés en présence.
Visit the Memorial Museum
The museum gives a life impression to the forehead during the countries of Ypres (there been some three) between 1914 and 1918.
Many photos allow you to see places of the regions. Can will have you the time to return you in these places (as for example Dixmude/Dixmuide) in order to realize you the reconstruction (often in origin style)
Open from February the first till November 30th (entrance individual 5 €)
Le musée donne une impression de la vie au front durant les campagnes d'Ypres (il y en eu trois) entre 1914 et 1918.
De nombreuses photos vous permettent de voir des endroits de la régions. Peut aurez vous le temps de vous rendre dans ces endroits (comme par exemple Dixmude/Dixmuide) afin de vous rendre compte de la reconstruction (souvent en style d'origine)
Zonnebeke also has it's own museum. one that explanes about the history of this village and it's surroundings. Special attention in this museum, that is also partly outside in wonderful old houses, to the two abbeys that dominated this vicinity in medieval times. They were founded around 1100 and raided by the independance fighters in 1580 (80-years war against Spanish Habsburgians). Zonnebeke had a rich history but a lot has been lost in the first world war. Nothing was standing up in this area after the fighting stopped.
In the centre of Zonnebeke one can also visit something non world war relative things. The attraction even before the war has always been the gardens of the castle Zonnebeke. This castle, situated near the springs of a small river (the Sun creek or in Dutch Zonne beek), is open for public and the castle has been rebuilt in Normandian style. It is especially worth a visit to get you out of the wars and cemetries.
The special thing on Saint-Charles de Potyze cemetry is definately the fact that all the crosses here are simply made of wood. Nor British nor German cemetries have this, though the German cemetries immediately after the war as well had wood as basic material for the graves. On the french cemetry one also sees a dark statue of a "Pieta" from Bretagne, figures that are moarning for their fallen loved ones. It is made by Freour in 1968.
This is one of the largest French cemetries on the Flanders Fields frontline. 4.000 souls are resting here, of whome 600 are in a mass grave, at the far side of the cemetry because they were not identified. The French closed the Northern part of the Ieper Saillant section and then covered the frontline along Diksmuide towards the North Sea (helped by the remains of the Belgian army. On the September battle of 1917, the French too lost many men and a part of them is burried in this cemetry.
Walking over the tyne Cot cemetry (as well as over all other cemetries) one must notice the shocking amount of gravestones that bare the text "Known unto God". These graves are containing the remains of a brave soldier that was not identified after being found. One must imagine that in no-man's land many men died or even worse, fell wounded to slowly die away. Their corpses laid here for days, weeks, months as the terrain was much to dangerous to go onto. On top of that no man's land was continuously shelled and bombed in barrage attacks. It was unlikely that anything in this hell ever could come out recognisable, which is the main reason why so many stones are marking graves in which a soldier lays of whose name is only known unto God. Their names are however either on the Menin Gate in Ieper or in the Memorial of the Missing in Zonnebeke.
Inscribed in the "Stone of Remembrance" is always the text "Their name liveth for ever more". This sentence was chosen by Rudyard Kipling (nobelpricewinner and autor of "Jungle Book"). He lost his only son in the first world war, who's body also was never retreived.
The cemetry is however somewhat different as for it's extra buildings. Little dome shaoed houses are popping up from the memorial wall and aside the cemetry are remains of a few bunkers as well as inside the cemetry is one. Near here once there was a small barn, over which the fighting was very fierce. This, so called, "cot" was named "Tyne" after the river in Old England.
Tyne Cot cemetry has however few other items. First and above all there is the long stretched wall curving at the higher side of the cemetry. It encloses a whole side and exists of numerous plates filled with names. Here are the 34.957 names of fallen soldiers that fell after the 16th of August 1917 and are not burried in holy soil as their bodies never have been recovered or identified. They are inscribed in the wall: the Memorial of the Missing (the ones who fell before this date are insrcibed in the Menin Gate in Ieper ... number: 54.896).
Near Zonnebeke, on top of a small hill, one can find the largest Commen Wealth military cemetry on mainland Europe. Here 11.956 soldiers are burried among which many in graves with the text "Known unto God only", which means their bodies have never been found or identified. The cemetry is huge and the white gravestones - so typical for all common wealth cemetries throughout Europe, maybe even the world - line up to the horizon. Without difference of rank or status, all fallen were burried from 1915 in the surroundings where the fell. The cemetries are not all exactly the same, but a few items are to be found everywhere. The "Cross of Sacrifice", most of the time on top of the "Stone of Remembrance" are everywhere and often a gate building that holds the chambre in which the register is, is on the entrance of the cemetry.