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Buffnut453

I'm in the early stages of planning for my first visit to Ypres area next summer.  I'll be bringing my family, 5 in total.

 

My main focus points are visits to Ramparts Cemetery and Pont d'Achelles Cemetery to visit 2 relatives who are buried in those locations.  I'm also interested in locations related to 55th (West Lancs) Div, particularly during 3rd Ypres where a relative by marriage won the MM with 1/3rd West Lancs Field Ambulance.  I'd also like to visit the area of 2nd Rifle Bde positions in September 1917 near La Basse Ville.  

 

I'd appreciate any other ideas for places to visit or hints and tips that others can provide for visiting the area, including things to avoid or potential pooh traps to avoid stepping in. 

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Marilyne

I don't know when exactly you plan to come over, but on the 21st August, Ypres will be hosting the end day and the parade of the international march "Four days of the Yzer". So you can maybe walk one day… (join that crazy international team with teddy bears and poppies on the backpacks) or just be advised that access to the city might be a bit hampered that day.

 

M.

 

PS: for the kids there's an 8 km with bouncing castle !!

 

m.

 

 

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Buffnut453

Hi Marilyne,

 

Thanks for the info.  It's a great suggestion but I think we might try to avoid that timeframe...we prefer fewer crowds.  Trying to get to the Menin Gate on a regular day will be enough crowds for us. :-)  However, we now have a date to avoid.  I'd also like to visit before they start the Cloth Hall renovations.

 

Kind regards,

Mark

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Andy davidson

Try a visit to hooge museum and crater, but a better walk for me is to go up the track at the side of the hooge restaurant, on the left of the menin road and walk up a couple of hundred yards to railway wood, do a left following the track and your on the area of railway wood / belleward ridge and loads of craters. A good few interpretation boards to, fascinating stuff. I walked from Ypres to there last may, around an hour's ish walk up there, found a baynet tip at the edge of a field where a marked path takes you to the mining engineers monument which is on the crown of railway wood. Have fun!!!

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Buffnut453
21 minutes ago, Andy davidson said:

Try a visit to hooge museum and crater, but a better walk for me is to go up the track at the side of the hooge restaurant, on the left of the menin road and walk up a couple of hundred yards to railway wood, do a left following the track and your on the area of railway wood / belleward ridge and loads of craters. A good few interpretation boards to, fascinating stuff. I walked from Ypres to there last may, around an hour's ish walk up there, found a baynet tip at the edge of a field where a marked path takes you to the mining engineers monument which is on the crown of railway wood. Have fun!!!

 

Thanks Andy.  Certainly sounds like a worthwhile bimble.  Certainly would like to see how the local terrain is still influenced by the battles of a century ago. 

 

Interesting that you live in Warrington.  I grew up in St.Helens and still have family there.  

 

Cheers,
Mark  

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Andy davidson

Hi Mark

 

Bit of a drag from Warrington to Dover but always worth it, a bit of info, you can park at hooge crater and walk up onto the ridge, and there is a face book page

bellewaerde  1915 which is worth a look.

 

if you have kids with you there is a theme park next door to hooge.

 

cheers

 

Andy

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caulkheader
10 hours ago, Andy davidson said:

Try a visit to hooge museum and crater, but a better walk for me is to go up the track at the side of the hooge restaurant, on the left of the menin road and walk up a couple of hundred yards to railway wood, do a left following the track and your on the area of railway wood / belleward ridge and loads of craters. A good few interpretation boards to, fascinating stuff. I walked from Ypres to there last may, around an hour's ish walk up there, found a baynet tip at the edge of a field where a marked path takes you to the mining engineers monument which is on the crown of railway wood. Have fun!!!

Very much seconded. The Hooge Crater museum is one of the better ‘small’ ones on the Western front, and the cafe has a good range of beers!

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Buffnut453
1 hour ago, caulkheader said:

Very much seconded. The Hooge Crater museum is one of the better ‘small’ ones on the Western front, and the cafe has a good range of beers!

 

Thanks Caulkheader.  Definitely sounds like one to add to the agenda.

 

I seem to recall there's a small museum somewhere in the area that has a lot of 55th (West Lancs) Div artifacts...in a local farm, perhaps?  Would like to learn more about that place if (a) my memory isn't playing tricks on me, and (b) it's still a going concern.   

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Don Regiano
On 03/11/2019 at 09:12, Buffnut453 said:

 

  I grew up in St.Helens

Mark.   So did I and a forebear who lived there died of wounds in the early days of 3rd Ypres.  He is buried at Brandhoek in the next row to Noel Chavasse.  Always visit him when we are there but it isn't very often as spend most of my time on the Somme in an area well known to 55th (west Lancs) Div.  Have a good trip......  Hill 60?  Reg.

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simond9x

Definitely plan on getting to the Menin Gate ceremony early, maybe an hour before. It's amazing just how many people attend even on wet weekday evenings. I always include a stroll through/round Ploegsteert Wood - I find it so atmospheric. A good 'primer' before you go would be Ted Smith & Tony Spagnoly's excellent book 'A Walk Round Plugstreet' which has lots of photos of the troops in the woods and short descriptions of the various actions that took place there. I go early in the mornings to avoid the coach parties and have the wood to myself.

 

If you and your family enjoy walking, I can recommend Paul Reed's book 'Walking The Salient' which might help you decide on other places to visit. For myself, I get a better feel for the battlefields by walking them rather than driving round them. I think I've done all the walks in the book (at least once) and they vary from a couple of hours to about 4 hours.

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Buffnut453
7 hours ago, simond9x said:

Definitely plan on getting to the Menin Gate ceremony early, maybe an hour before. It's amazing just how many people attend even on wet weekday evenings. I always include a stroll through/round Ploegsteert Wood - I find it so atmospheric. A good 'primer' before you go would be Ted Smith & Tony Spagnoly's excellent book 'A Walk Round Plugstreet' which has lots of photos of the troops in the woods and short descriptions of the various actions that took place there. I go early in the mornings to avoid the coach parties and have the wood to myself.

 

If you and your family enjoy walking, I can recommend Paul Reed's book 'Walking The Salient' which might help you decide on other places to visit. For myself, I get a better feel for the battlefields by walking them rather than driving round them. I think I've done all the walks in the book (at least once) and they vary from a couple of hours to about 4 hours.

 

Thanks Simond9x.  Really like the book suggestions.  Will definitely look those up because, like you, I prefer to walk the ground rather than just drive past.  Also not a big fan of coach parties, I'm afraid.

 

Definitely want to do the Menin Gate...but only once, I suspect.  

 

Cheers,
Mark

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simond9x

Sorry, I also meant to say that if you do choose to do a bit of walking, I find it useful to take prints of old trench maps of the area. As a lot of the villages, roads and woods were restored to their pre-war positions, it's usually fairly easy to know with reasonable certainty where the trenches actually were in the terrain you're crossing. If appropriate, I also do the same with the panoramas in Peter Barton's books so you can see a before/after whilst standing on the same spot as the original photographer. There's a particularly good one of the Menin Road at Hooge, photographed roughly from the road that leads to the museum at Sanctuary Wood. Even the culvert under the road is still there today. I don't know how old your children are but I did this (trench maps, panoramas, etc) with my 17 year old step-daughter and she told me that it really 'brought it alive' for her - she'd expected to be just tramping around anonymous fields.

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Buffnut453

Thanks Simond9x, the trench maps idea is a really good one.  I'd like to locate where o e of my relatives sustained the wounds that claimed his life.  It's near Warneton.

 

My offspring are ages 21, 18 and 15.  We're planning the trip for when the older 2 come home from uni next summer. 

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Buffnut453

Ok....continuing my research, it seems like Pond Farm is on the "must visit" list.  From what I've been able to discover, Pond Farm was in the middle of the 55th (West Lancs) Division area of responsibility during 3rd Ypres.  If that's correct, then I definitely need to visit there.

 

Another museum that popped up on searches was the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  Has anyone been there?  Is it worth the trip?

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Ken Lees
7 minutes ago, Buffnut453 said:

Ok....continuing my research, it seems like Pond Farm is on the "must visit" list.  From what I've been able to discover, Pond Farm was in the middle of the 55th (West Lancs) Division area of responsibility during 3rd Ypres.  If that's correct, then I definitely need to visit there.

 

Another museum that popped up on searches was the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  Has anyone been there?  Is it worth the trip?

 

Pond Farm is in the 55th Div area of 31st July, 1917, towards the left flank.

 

The Memorial Museum Passchendaele is the best museum in the Salient. It's a must see.

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Buffnut453
Just now, Ken Lees said:

 

Pond Farm is in the 55th Div area of 31st July, 1917, towards the left flank.

 

The Memorial Museum Passchendaele is the best museum in the Salient. It's a must see.

 

Brilliant!  Thanks Ken.  Another 2 added to the list.  Somehow, I don't think we'll be sitting around twiddling our thumbs during the trip.  

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AOK4
1 hour ago, Buffnut453 said:

Ok....continuing my research, it seems like Pond Farm is on the "must visit" list.  From what I've been able to discover, Pond Farm was in the middle of the 55th (West Lancs) Division area of responsibility during 3rd Ypres.  If that's correct, then I definitely need to visit there.

 

Another museum that popped up on searches was the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  Has anyone been there?  Is it worth the trip?

 

You have to make an appointment if you want to visit Pond Farm: https://depondfarm.be/nl/node/59

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Buffnut453
1 minute ago, AOK4 said:

 

You have to make an appointment if you want to visit Pond Farm: https://depondfarm.be/nl/node/59

 

Thanks AOK4.  I had seen the website.  Once I have dates, I'll reach out to Stijn in hopes of finding a suitable date to visit.

 

Cheers,
Mark

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Jaeger6
22 hours ago, Ken Lees said:

The Memorial Museum Passchendaele is the best museum in the Salient. It's a must see.

Definitely, but it's not only the museum. The children can run around the park and play at the lake, and don't miss the Passchendaele Memorial Gardens.

You can even walk to Tyne Cot, it's just 2km from MMP 1917.

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Don Regiano
23 hours ago, Jaeger6 said:

Definitely, but it's not only the museum. The children can run around the park and play at the lake, and don't miss the Passchendaele Memorial Gardens.

You can even walk to Tyne Cot, it's just 2km from MMP 1917.

 .... and, unfortunately,  the children can continue to and do run around and climb all over the Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot.  Not my most endearing experience on the Western Front.

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Mark Hone

I have made several attempts to get in touch with Stijn about a possible visit on my October 2020 tour. Unfortunately, repeated attempts to send a message via the website seem to have been unsuccessful. I've tried messaging him via the Forum but he doesn't seem to have visited since 2017. We paid a very enjoyable visit to Pond Farm on our Passchendaele Centenary tour in 2017 and saw the tank in action. Our school connection with the area also concerns 55th Division. One of our old boys, 2nd Lt. Tom Floyd, wrote a detailed account of his experiences as a subaltern in 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers on 31st July 1917, published as 'At Ypres with Best-Dunkley'. Another, Lt. R.M. Barlow, won an MC with the same battalion in the attack on Schuler Galleries in September. 

I can assure you that our people don't run around or climb over the Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot. Seven of our former pupils are commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and one, 2nd Lt. Jack Binns RFC, is buried not far from the Cross. 

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Don Regiano
3 hours ago, Mark Hone said:

 

I can assure you that our people don't run around or climb over the Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot.

 

I am sure that that is the case Mark.  Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to everyone.  This is what welcomed us last February and it turned out to be a quiet interlude as it took more than 15 minutes for us to obtain a clear picture of the other side of the Cross when there were even more scrambling across it.

 

Regards.

 

Reg

 

 

DSC06197.JPG

Edited by Don Regiano

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Jaeger6
On 12/11/2019 at 18:27, Don Regiano said:

the children can continue to and do run around and climb all over the Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot

...and even more unfortunate - the grown-ups, too, as your picture shows.

 

But I'm with you, Reg. As a history teacher I always get angry when I see bored pupils fooling around without any respect for the dead or the situation. So I got even more enraged when I have to see that they never learned to behave appropriately because their parents aren't any better.

 

Markus

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Jervis

The overwhelming majority of war cemeteries I visit are lonely desolate places with very few visitors. I spent 2 weeks on the Somme in July and was amazed so few people were about. 

 

The very act of visiting the graves is showing respect. The parents are remembering their dead and passing it on to the next generation. There are worse things to get angry about. 

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Neil Mackenzie

The Tyne Cot issue has come up many times before. I always thought it was specifically designed to be be climbed (and it certainly looks as if it is) but I now gather that is not necessarily the case - the archive is unclear. As CWGC point out people have been climbing those steps at Tyne Cot since the cemetery was opened almost 100 years ago and if the lads buried there could come back and visit Tyne Cot I am sure that a good number of them would climb it as well (probably with cigarette in hand).

 

So, as CWGC deliberately refuse to say whether or not it is OK for people to climb the base of the Cross of Sacrifice, we cannot say that people doing so are being disrespectful. I must admit, in smaller cemeteries, I often sit on the base of the Cross of Sacrifice, and I am sure many, many cemetery visitors do as well, and I never consider myself being disrespectful (but maybe I am!). The only thing people on the Cross of Sacrifice really disrupt is a clear photographic opportunity - and I can live with that.

 

It is more of an issue when people are loud and noisy there as this impacts on other visitors to the cemetery. 

 

Mark - I will see if I have Stijn's email address to send you.

 

Neil

 

 

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