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Zonnebeke Road? Battle of Menin Rd photo.


grantmal
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Purchased this British Official photo recently. On reverse it states: "C.2384. Battle of Menin Rd. Scene on a road over newly captured ground."

I have seen this reproduced in Hammerton's 1930's 'World War' as 'Zonnebeke Road'. Can anyone identify the location?

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Also, any ideas on what this thing is?

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Thanks for the help!

Grant

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It looks like it may be a locomotive. If some-one cam pin down the location it may confim a railway.

Any chance of a blow up of the latticed structure and what may be graves on the left of the photo?

Phil

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on the menin road there was a tram line,

I lived for 20 years on the zonnebekeweg, but there is nothing on that picture to use as identification even after checking my postcards of that area.But then again it can be further down the road area verlorenhoek or frezeneberg

Kind regards

Sabine

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Grant,

Thanks for the blow ups.

I agree with Sabine. If it is actually taken on the Zonnebeke Road itself, it is the Ieperstraat. The only dog-leg that matches and even that doesn't look sharp enough, is just East of Vampir. The Ypres-Roulers railway converges and crosses not far in front. What is putting me off this idea is the lack of signs of a light railway along the left hand side of the road.

There is what looks like a pile of shell cases next to the wheelbarrow. I wonder if it has been taken from a battery position? Forget the graves, I think they are crates. There are plenty laying about throughout the photo.

I have another possible location, that I won't have time to study tonight, but it is tallying with the map extract and aerial in your Zonnebeke Redoubt thread and an aerial I have.

There is a photo on the AWM with a very similar horizon to yours, but no specific location given, other than Zonnebeke. Link.

Phil

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The photographer clearly is in a higher position. Perhaps he was on a train, transporting supplies (wood?), crossing this road?

Roel

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Thanks very much for the replies. There are a lot of questions, but before grappling with them I hoped someone could put me out of my misery!

Also, I have jumped the gun somewhat, as there is a second photo, not yet received, which lines up to the right. Not that the low-res version shows too many landmarks, either:

post-4061-0-74560400-1346659885_thumb.jp

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I'm just wondering whether the lattice work was an upturned corderoy road or the base for a plank road that was hit by shell fire and upended, but what

a mess, no wonder returning troops never talked about their experiences.

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The second I saw the photo I instantly recognized it.

Well, what I mean is that I saw it some 10 years ago in the magazine "Twenty Years After".

More in a following posting.

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I don't have the magazine with me here, but I am 99 % sure that with the WW1 pic in my previous posting, was this photo. (Same or follwoing page.)

(The magazine shows WW1 pics, and compares them with a "modern" (= late 1930s) pic.)

However, the author does not directly say is is the same location, so I cannot guarantee ...

(More in a following posting)

Aurel

post-92-0-01113300-1346747127_thumb.jpg

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So I went there (that was when I was 8 years less old than now :-) ), and took this photo.

Indeed, looking towards Zonnebeke.

Standing approx. 1 mile past (east of) the motorway A19 crossing.

At a distance, left side of the road : the Steenbakkerij (brickworks).

But again : no guarantee. Maybe the "Twenty Years After" was in doubt too ?

Anyway, in the Zonnebeke road there are only 2 other locations that appear to have a similar bend, closer to Ypres :

- one standing at the present French cemetery St. Charles de Potyze

- one standing at Verlorenhoek (1 km more east of the previous) (but nowadays the view is blocked there by the crossing over the motorway.

Aurel

post-92-0-64834200-1346747695_thumb.jpg

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Aurel. Fantastic work.

Roger

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Don't like to argue with local experts but am unsure the location has been identified. The thing which is identified as a locomotive may well be a motorised truck or waggon on the 'main road whilst the road in the centre of the picture is a side track or spur road with possibly a light railway or remains of one in between. The Verlorenhoek location does have an abrupt bend but then goes straight for some distance as trench maps post on Paul Reed's forum illustrate. The road in the centre of the original photo does take an abrupt right turn but later on appears to abruptly turn left towards the location of the explosion/shelling. The road on the right on which the 'waggon' is located appears much straighter.

Bernard

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Bernard,

On seeing Grant's second photo, I agree that it is more likely to be a truck. Originally I thought that the photo may have been taken from just east of Vampir, but on maps the bend does not look sharp enough, although Aurel's photo, which I believe is the same location, seems to make it look quite sharp.

The alternative position I have been looking at is further South on a track at D26b.6.1

Grant's map and aerial here show it quite clearly and I would estimate that the photo may have been taken from the building next to the "61" in red. The problem I have is in estimating the distances from a photo to what appears to be a light railway and as you say, a straight road. I also wondered if the dark line in the middle distance is the Ypres-Roulers Railway.

Phil

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is that a small rail line in center of photo #2?? or just tire/wagon tracks on road

judging by the amount of shell casings (photo #1) one would guess the photo taken from artillery position?

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Just to repeat that I myself am not sure at all.

I am sure that my 1938 pic corresponds with my 2004 pic (the one in colour), of the Zonnebeke Road. But does the WW1 pic correspond with the 1938 ?

I don't have "Twenty Years After" with me, but I remember that when I scanned the two black and white pics, I was a little surprised that the author did not say explicitly that both pics were the same location. (Normally he goes to great lengths to find the exact same position, and says so.) He may have had his doubts too ?

For those who may have this magazine, in my notes I find that the two B/W pics very probably are from number 8, pages 284 and 285.

Aurel

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Have been away for a few days - thanks very much to everyone who has posted. This forum is a marvellous thing.

Will try to address some of the posts in more detail, but, in the meantime, here are some descriptions of the roads crossing the ground between Menin and Zonnebeke Roads, as reported by various AIF units, Sept/Oct 1917:

13th Field Company Engineers, September 1917. AWM4 14/32/19

26.9.17 .....Notes on topography in captured area.

The jumping off line lies on the spur running down to the NW intersected by the Westhoek – Zonnebeke Road running NE. This road was about 15’ wide and metalled 6” deep. It has been considerably damaged by shell fire but will be invaluable as a line of communication later. About D.27.c.9.1 it crosses the Hannebeek East. Continuing up the spur towards Zonnebeke the roadway has a bank 4’ high on the north side and has not been very badly damaged by shell fire.

Tokio -- Jabber House Road was 12’ wide with 4” of metal on it. Is in fair condition and will be extremely useful for lateral communication as it is on the reverse side of the spur.

Brick Kiln Road running south-east is a good 15' wide road with about 9" of metal on it. About D.28.C Central it becomes sunken running through an embankment 7'-8' high.

2nd Division Engineers, September 1917. AWM4/14/8/12

September 30. The main Westhoek – Zonnebeke Road is to be opened up as far forward as possible so as to be passable to wheeled traffic. As a first step is to be made passable to pack animals and then for wheeled traffic up to the Brick Kiln Yard junction D.27.B.9.2. Thence a pack animal track is to be run round the south of the pond to join the Zonnebeke – Broodseinde Road NE of Zonnebeke.

Second only in priority to the above, the Road from the Westhoek – Zonnebeke Road at D.27.d.3.5 to D.27.a.6.2 is to be opened up for wheeled traffic so as to connect up with dry weather track now being pushed up to the latter point. [2nd Pioneer Battalion]

AWM 4/13/35/12 Part 2 HQ 7th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, October 1917

No.2 Group Headquarters, 2nd October 1917.

DAHQ, 3rd Australian Division.

I have reconnoitred the area East of the Frezenberg Ridge as far as D.26.Central. The only means of advancing guns to Potsdam and Drouget Trench – Bremen Redoubts Line is by means of the road running through 25.Central and St Joseph's Institute. This Road in 25.b and 26.a is in a bad state and only just fit for wheeled transport. Furthermore, it is subjected to heavy shelling night and day. The communications in the whole of this area appeared to be in a very backward state.

I strongly recommend that if it is intended to move Batteries beyond the Frezenberg Bridge that the Road at present commenced in the vicinity of Wild Wood in I.6.b be extended via Douglas Villa and Potsdam. The Road shown immediately north of Potsdam is completely destroyed.

Suitable positions for this Group exist in the vicinity of Potsdam and 26 Central, provided Hill 40 is in our hands. [signed Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding No.2 Group Artillery.]

2nd Division Engineers, October 1917. AWM4/14/8/13

October 9.... 9.30 p.m. message from Major Harris that Pioneers had reported Road Brick Kiln – Zonnebeke – Broodseinde has been made passable for pack animals and limbers – timed 3.10 PM. Party working tonight to open up Road from Zonnebeke back to Railway crossing....

Tracks. [Lt-Col X, CRE 2nd Division reply to CE 1st ANZAC, 31.10.17]

While the dry weather lasted, cross-country tracks, formed by filling in shell holes, fascining or planking wet and boggy places were of very great value. Stores of all descriptions were pushed well forward by GS, limber and pontoon wagons from the points at which they were dumped by roadside from motor lorries. A few days rain made these tracks impassable for all wheeled traffic and they have never been practicable since.

5th Division Engineers, October 1917. AWM 4/14/11/17

Colonel Carter, 5th Pioneer Battalion reports: – Road running south from Zonnebeke through D.28.c, J.4.a and b. This road is in fair condition from Brick Kiln down to D 28.C.4.5 and can be made pretty sound. From this point to J.4.A.9.8 the formation still exists but is mud covered. Mud being removed and drains dug both sides and two cross culverts. From J.4.a.9.8 to J.4.b.2.5 the road no longer exists. From J.4.d.2.5 formation again available under the mud.

Progress of works report for week ending 17.10.17.

Roads: Zonnebeke – Brick Kiln Rd – 300 yards side ditch – also 300 yards earth formation.

Good on you,

Grant

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Thanks Bob, that photo obviously matches Aurel's shot, and adds to the intrigue. Any more info on it?

As soon as the original surfaced I thought it might be that particular bend, but then, like Phil, there were doubts about the shape of the road. It looks to be turning to the left shortly after the bend, not continuing on as it should. Now, after Aurel and Bob's pics, I'm confused (more than usual). As Aurel said, though, the magazine did not explicitly state the 1930's photo was in the same spot as the 1917 one....this bend does seem pretty tempting.

I thought dating the 1917 photo might help, hence the Sept/Oct reports earlier. The Artillery Lt-Col describes the ground in question in his 2nd October report: "I have reconnoitred the area East of the Frezenberg Ridge as far as D.26.Central. The only means of advancing guns to Potsdam and Drouget Trench – Bremen Redoubts Line is by means of the road running through 25.Central and St Joseph's Institute. This Road in 25.b and 26.a is in a bad state and only just fit for wheeled transport. Furthermore, it is subjected to heavy shelling night and day."

If this is the bend in Zonnebeke Rd just west of Devils Crossing, then the photo must have been taken after the Lt-Col's October 2 recon, given the state of the road (it doesn't look too "bad"), and the piles of spent artillery shells, which indicate the artillery are already there, and in action.

Does that line of tree stumps on the left mark the Hanebeek, which crosses the road right on the bend?

There's something about the high bank just after the bend..... could the road originally have run behind it?

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Does that line of tree stumps on the left mark the Hanebeek, which crosses the road right on the bend?

That is what I wondered too some days ago. (See attached map, Sept. 1917)

But then some other things don't match enough.

Also : wondering if the 1964 photo (taken by IWM staff) was taken because it was thought that it matched the 1917 photo. (Or maybe the late 1930s photo).

Aurel

post-92-0-39364200-1347352824_thumb.jpg

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Also : wondering if the 1964 photo (taken by IWM staff) was taken because it was thought that it matched the 1917 photo. (Or maybe the late 1930s photo).

Aurel,

Yes, the 1930's photo might be the reference point for subsequent efforts. I also agree that some things don't seem to match, though.

Here are some shots of the Zonnebeke Road, 1917:

post-4061-0-24919700-1347357135_thumb.jp

post-4061-0-84347000-1347357042_thumb.jp

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Thanks, Grant.

I understand the aerial pics, they are clear to me, correspond with the map etc.

But yet I cannot find a confirmation in them that they show the part of the Zonnebeke Road in your initial posting.

(Neither do I find something in them that disproves.)

By the way, I am also wondering : is the road in the photo in your initial posting cobblestones (or are these cobblestones covered with mud) ? At the time the Zonnebeke Road certainly was important enough not to be a dirt road, but to have cobble stones.

Aurel

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