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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Just returned from Ploegsteert


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I have just returned from my first trip to Ploegsteert. Apart from the fact that it was fabulous weather (as can be seen) I wanted to take some photographs of the areas in which my Great Grandfather (Pte. Arthur Linge) and Great Uncle (Pte Ernest Linge) were mortally wounded. The regimental diary for November mentions that 'A' Company, in which my Grandfather served, were in reserve at 'a farm on the edge of Ploegsteert wood'. There is the site of a mediaeval moated farm on the southern edge of the wood, shown on contemporary maps as 'Essex Farm' (not to be confused with the cemetary). I wanted to see if there was any evidence that the incident referred to may have related to this farm. The google Earth image shows the farm in question, with the orange dot indicating the position from which I made my observations (and two rather interesting discoveries).

I approached the area along the field boundary at the edge of the wood from the direction of Lancashire Cottage cemetary, but was not able to get to the Western end of the moat, nor the access road to the 'island' due to a large electrified cattle fence. I had previously called at the Farm, but there was no-one around.

Continued on next post...




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I made my way around the Northern edge of the field to the Eastern side of the moat, where I made the first interesting discovery. Half buried at the edge of the moat was, what looked to my uneducated eye, like a Mills 23 rifle-grenade. There was no pin or retaining handle, and the plunger at the top was depressed. I moved it (very carefully) to the base of one of the trees where I could photograph it.



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It was at this point that I made my second discovery - what looked to me like a large-calibre shell splinter

This would seem to indicate to me that the farm had indeed been subject to the attentions of the German artillery at some point. Obviously, it is not conclusive proof as there wern't too many places that were not shelled. But it was an interesting find nonetheless.

Below are two views from the northern end of the moat. Clearly the trees have been much reduced at some point.





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There was an open path into the wood at that point and I'm afraid temptation got the better of me. It was not the shooting season and the wood was full of deer and pheasants. I stayed on the paths and ended up on 'The Strand'

I left the way I had come, and after a visit to Lancashire Farm Cemetary to visit and photograph the graves of some of the other 'Essex Boys' walked along the road to Gheer, turning right at the crossroads to follow the lines of the trenches between Le Gheer (as was) and the modern motorway embankment.



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It was in this section of trenches that my Great Uncle, Ernest, was mortally wounded in Jan15. In the field marked by the orange dot, I found another shell-splinter that looked very similar to the one I had found at 'Essex Farm'.

I returned to my car and paid a visit to 'Ernie' who is buried in The Strand cemetary before lunch at the Auberge opposite Ploegsteert Memorial, a quick visit to the cemetary, with my patient g/f in attendance. She is of German extraction, so we put a poppy on the grave of an unknown German soldier before heading back to the delightful Ypres.

More later...





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I have always enjoyed my visits to the Plugstreet wood area over the years each time finding something of interest, Plugstreet memorial was also the first place of call on my first ever trip out (A relative who fell on 4th April 1918 with the South Staffs is commenorated there) so perhaps that is why I keep returning.

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