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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Croonaert Wood


kerry

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Dear All,

I visited Croonaert Wood last week. As we all know, it is (was) probably the only site where until the late 1970's one could see not too badly adulterated German trenches (or are there other German trenches elsewhere not on private land?)

I previously visited in March1997, when, although the site was vacant, it was not fenced off. One could see the mine shaft, the trench railway and other components of a typical pre-WW2, WW1 trench museum.

The old house is now practically ruined and the site is well fenced off with barbed wire. New tracks have been forced straight across the site and it would seem doubtful that the current owners have any intention of re-opening the site or restoring it to what it was. Thre are frequent signs in Flemish and English declaring the land to be private and that access is forbidden.

Another part of the Salient looks to be disappearing irretrievably.

Kerry

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Hello,

I heard the trenches will be restored in their original condition (a bit like Yorkshire Trench, but German style) this year. I used to be part of the group that would do this job, but I haven't heard anything more since...

Jan

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I nipped in there and filmed the trench system in its overgrown state, yes the house is pretty much delapidated and in a bad state of repair. (Pics available from the tape I shot if wanted)

It is good that there may be a chance not to restore it.

I stood there for a while in the silence and imagined........

The silence was deafening

John

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As we all know, it is (was) probably the only site where until the late 1970's one could see not too badly adulterated German trenches

Don't forget ,though, that these trenches were also redug on the same lines as those at Hill 62 (ie. based on original lines) and continued to be dug into the 1980's. In fact ,I remember Andre thrusting a spade into my hand in around 1980/81 (when I was about 9 or 10) and giving me the "honour" of helping to re-dig a section, much to my parents' amusement! :D

Dave

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I heard the trenches will be restored in their original condition (a bit like Yorkshire Trench, but German style) this year. I used to be part of the group that would do this job, but I haven't heard anything more since...

Jan.

Did I send you a scan of the early 1980's "guide sheet" for these trenches? (I can't remember).

Could you tell me more about the group that's supposed to be renovating the Bayernwald trenches, please? I was there first time round and I wouldn't mind seeing the "second phase" (if it's going to happen,that is).

Thanks,

Dave :)

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Allegedly the site was going to be bought and restored by British enthusiasts or so I was told in the late 1980's. I forget who these supposed saviours were now, but we can presumably assume that the plan has bitten the dust.

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Due to problems with the heirs of Mr. Becquart, it took more than 15 years before the wood was sold. It is now in the hands of a Mr. De Clerck, who is an industrialist (carpets). He owns the whole area, so it seems (hunting and country house). In order to get the necessary papers to rebuild the house, there was a deal with the commune to preserve the trenches and make them open for the public. The Association for Battlefield Archaeology then would restore the trenches in their original condition. This would be done this year so that the trenches would be accessible in November 2003.

This is what I heard about the matter.

Jan

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Jan,

do we have a contact in the Association for Battlefield Archaeology who could keep this forum informed of developments?

When I was there 2 weks ago there was not a shred of any kind of work about to start anywere - the site and old house was desolate. If they are supposed to be open to the public in around 20 weeks time, someone is going to have to pull their finger out.

Kerry

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  • 4 months later...

Croonaert Wood renovation works started !

Being close to Voormezele today, I decided to make a stop at Croonaert Chapel cemetery. Apparently, the long-awaited works at Croonaert wood have started.

The vegetation has been cleared and trenches have been redug. Currently (but not today) they are placing some kind of A-frames (with drains below) in the trenches with bundles of braches on the sides. There is still a lot of (probably volunteer-) work to be done: I don't think the site will be ready by November.

A sign tells that the works are financed by the municipality of Heuvelland and a Mr. Declerqu (the present owner ?). I did not see a reference to ABAF.

P.S. The famous shell-case pile has been reduced te near non-existent. An inevitable consequence of the new popularity of this wood :( .

bert.

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. There is still a lot of (probably volunteer-) work to be done: I don't think the site will be ready by November.

It's actually scheduled to be open to the public in April 2004.

Dave.

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Guest netcom2000

I was in the salient last week, and during a visit to the wood and the Messines town hall, a lady there told me that the wood will be restored and hopefuly ready 2004 sometime, also the new Passchendaele experience at the streeksmuseum in Zonnebeke. :ph34r:

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I'm not quite sure what you meant in your slightly cryptic post, Chris. If you are concerned that the Streeksmuseum is going to be turned into another 'In Flanders Fields...', the publicity material makes pointed references to maintaining a 'traditional style of presentation' which seems to provide at least some reassurance that this will not be the case.

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I agree - I hope that the Croonaert Wood 'trench experience' won't end up spawning trenches that are so clean. perfect and clinical that their visual impact blocks the conept of what they were really like.

I also hope it won't degenerate into the 'Wipers-Disney experience sadly forced on the unsuspectng at Sanctuary Wood with its new false 'shell holes' etc.

Kerry

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As stated before, the trenches aren't original to begin with so the only thing we can argue about is which way of doing things LOOKS the most original. The concrete shelter/guardpost isn't authentic to the location either b.t.w.

Regards,

Marco

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  • 4 weeks later...

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