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Belgian Army sites


Mike Steele
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I am planning a trip over to Belgium in March/April time and was hoping to take in some of the Belgian front sites as well as spending time around Ypres. Can anyone please tell me when the Trench of Death is open and also recommend any other places of interest in the Belgian area of the frontline ??

Many thanks for any replies.

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You should also visit the King Albert memorial and the sluice gates of the Yser canal system at Nieuwpoort; the Belgian Army Memorial Chapel at Oud Stuivekenskerke; the Flemish Memorial tower at Diksmuide; at least one of the several Belgian military cemeteries in this area (perhaps the ones in Houthulst and Westvleteren); and the memorial to the Van Raemdonck brothers near Steenstraat. There are Belgian unit memorials dotted around the region too, and a few blockhouses.

If you know, or can read, about the battle of the Yser in 1914 and the occupation of this area by the Belgian Army until late 1918, you will also appreciate the significance of the Yser bridge at Tervate, the railway embankment running from Nieuwpoort to Diksmuide, and the site of the old flour mill at Diksmuide (now covered in very nice houses on the opposite bank of the river facing the tower).

If you need any more historical background, I would be happy to help.

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I don't think the Trench of Death is open until around Easter Time; it is now maintained by the Belgian Army, and has been completely rennovated. By next year the museum there should be open as well. Best of all - it's free!

Not far away is Pervyse, and there are some great bunkers and Observation Post towers in the area.

The British memorial at Nieuport is also worth seeing - commemorating the British units that were in this area in 1917.

There is little in English on this sector, aside from the Michelin Guide 'Yser' - which has now been reprinted, I think.

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Many thanks for the info gentlemen. May be worth delaying until after Easter to see the trench of death when it re-opens.

By the way Paul, a small family connection, my dad is one of the Leger drivers who sometimes does your tours :)

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You might want to visit the private memorial to lt. Juul De Winde, just a few hundred meters from Poelcapelle cemetery ( grave of John Condon), on the road towards the village of Westrnzebeke. The memorial is on the right sideof the road,when you're driving up to Westrozebeke. Lt. De Winde is a distant relative of mine, and, as far as I know, he is the only Belgian soldier who has a privat memorial in Ypres Saliënt. The memorial is nothing special, but the setting is quite unique. Lt. Dewinde was killed in an assault upon the German stronghold in the woodland across the road, his last words were 'couchez vous!', or 'take cover!'. Then he was hit in the head.

Actually, the story of lt. De Winde only begins there. As one of the few Flemish speaking officers in the Belgian army he became one of the symbols of the Flemish movement after the war. He also wrote ( very poor) war poetry, and is one of the rare Flemish war poets.

In 1919, my great-grand uncle and his brother went out to Westrozebeke, found their brothers grave, and brought the body, totally against every law, back to his hometown of Merchtem were i live. He was burried there in the communial graveyard as a real war hero. 15 years later he was dug up and his body was transfered to the Yzer Tower in Diksmuide, were he still lies today, along other Flemish soldiers who where significant for the Flemish movement in the war. Today no-one ever visits his Memorial anymore. Please do so before you go up to the Yzer Tower. From the site of the memorial you also have a splendid view upon Houthulst Forest, scene of fierce Belgian fighting, which houses today a large Belgian military cemetery and also the headquarters of the Belgian army bomb disposal unit DOVO, which deals whith all the ammo in th Ypres region.

Best,

Bert.

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Hello,

I have checked the opening times of the Trench of death with the tourist office of Diksmuide and this is what they have replied:

The trench of death is open to the public daily from April 1st till September 30th between 10.00 and 12.00 in the morning and 13.00 and 17.00 in the afternoon.

Only on weekdays between October 1st and November 15th from 10.00 till 12.30 in the morning and from 13.00 till 17.30 in the afternoon.

On November 1st and November 11th the trench is open to the public from 10.00 till 12.30 and from 13.00 till 17.30.

One has to enter at least 30 minutes before closing time.

The entry to the Trench of death is free.

Hope that this answers your question.

Best wishes, Charlotte

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  • 2 years later...

How much time (day, dat and half) would it take to do justice to this area of the Front? Assuming sites associated with the Salient have already been visited?

Andy

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See also Popering(h)e. This town is situated at =/- 12 km from Ypres and comprises e.g. 'Talbot House', the Lyssenthoek cemetery, ...

Regards,

Gilbert Deraedt

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The King Albert Meorial at Nieupoort mentioned above is well worth a visit. It is usually open on a Sunday morning when for a very small fee you can go up to the top ( see photo on website) where the circular walkway gives extensive views across the Belgian sector, the various towns and areas are pointed out on metal plaques as one goes around.. Well worth a vist and good starting point for that sector of the line.

salientguide

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