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LizM

Yorkshire Trench-Looking at concrete

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LizM

Hi all

Did you know that when you visit the Yorkshire Trench at Boezinge and you sit down and maybe reflect what it could of been like, you look around you and all you see is concrete, think about what is underneath you Concrete. It has actually been filled in with foam concrete so that it cannot be re-opened and also not been rebuilt to how the trench would of looked. (Look in the book "Beneath Flanders Fields" to get the true picture).

Why was it filled in like this and not kept open as an original trench system for us and future generations to see?? Any ideas?

LizM

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kerry

Liz,

apparently the local authority wanted to avoid the danger of subsidence and road collapse, hence the precautionary measure.

Kerry

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Aurel Sercu
It has actually been filled in with foam concrete so that it cannot be re-opened and also not been rebuilt to how the trench would of looked. (Look in the book "Beneath Flanders Fields" to get the true picture).

Why was it filled in like this and not kept open as an original trench system for us and future generations to see?? Any ideas?

LizM

Liz,

I'm not sure I understand, but I suppose you wonder why the dug-out itself was not kept open for you and future generations to see ?

The answer is very simple : this is totally impossible.

The dug-out floor is 10 meters below the ground (ceiling 8 meters below). Even 1 or 2 meters below the ground is below the water table, and the dug-out is filled with ground water throughout the year, even in summer. (I suppose you saw the water in the two entrances.)

Could it be pumped out ? Yes, in theory. If pumping is continued 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year. Even then : the dugout would not be easily accessible, I can assure you, for deep down it is "a bit" muddy.

But that's not all ! Pump it out, and in a very short time (weeks, months ?) the whole structure will desintegrate and collapse. For as soon as the wood, which has been there for 90 years, comes in touch with the air, the decaying process begins.

Unless the wood is treated chemically. A staggeringly expensive process. For that : all the beams would have to be numbered one by one, taken out and to the surface, transported to Holland and treated (frontside and backside !!!), and put back in place. And as there are hundreds of beams, and as they are all 10 meters deep, and as they could only be taken out if the whole dug-out area is laid open from theground surface, I suppose you can imagine that - of it is technically possible - this would be a project with a price tag of many millions of euros.

Also : suppose that in this way the structure is made accessible, would it be wise to leave it open all day long and let people visit it ? What about possible accidents ? What if it collapses ?

Those are the reasons that if one wants so see a dug-out, one has to go to the Zonnebeke Museum or the IJzertoren (Diksmuide), were two were reconstructed above ground.

But even though such visit to a reconstructed dugout is very impressive, I must say it does not compare to being in a real dug-out below ground level. I was in the Boezinge dug-out several times, several days, and I can assure you it is an unforgettable experience.

Let me also add that it was not us (The Diggers) who decided to fill the dug-out partly with foam concrete (partly, about 1/4, the part below the road and near to it.) This decision was taken by other people, engineers I guess. Was it necessary ? I have no idea. Personally I think that it being 10 meters below the ground ... On the other hand, the traffic in the Bargiestraat is pretty heavy.

As you may know there is a very nice scale model of the dug-out in the In Flanders Fields Museum.

Hope this info is useful. And should you have more (technical) questions about the Boezinge dug-out, please feel free to ask, or read the article on my website :

http://www.wo1.be/diggers/E/activiteiten/y...ench/vragen.htm

Aurel

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Paul Nixon

Fascinating website Aurel and well worth reminding people what The Diggers do. Are there plans to update the gallery with what the group has been doing since the first half of 2003?

Paul

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John_Hartley

Aurel

I know you are no longer with the Diggers and are, therefore, not updating the website. Are there any plans for the current group to take over the website and maintain it?

John

(PS: I know this is a bit of a sensitive subject for you. Sorry.)

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paul guthrie

A few years ago large British dugout at the brickworks at, I think, Zonnebekke , was open, quite impressive but I gather not safe. :(

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LizM

Thanks all for the input.

Aurel thanks for the web site- I will check it out.

I will just take it that the Yorkshire Trench is an example of what a trench would not be like!!

I know it would have to be pumped, as for the wood (a certain carpenter (mentioning no-names -could of probably done some reconstruction- Maybe!! )

Also, sorry forgot to ask why was it Foam Filled?

Liz

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john w.

Photo of Yorkshire Trench

Entrance into dug out.. see it flooded

John

post-409-1115849387.jpg

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john w.

Second photo

John

post-409-1115849487.jpg

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john w.

What is there though is super, despite the surroundings.... a testament to the tenacity of the Diggers at the time

John

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Aurel Sercu
  Are there plans to update the gallery with what the group has been doing since the first half of 2003?

Paul

Paul,

and John,

No there are no plans. I had a few things in store, but being no longer a member ...

(Please don't think my reply is so brief because it is a sensitive subject, or that I do not wish to say more, but this really is all that I can say about it.)

Aurel

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Aurel Sercu
Aurel thanks for the web site- I will check it out.

(1) I will just take it that the Yorkshire Trench is an example of what a trench would not be like!!

(2) I know it would have to be pumped, as for the wood (a certain carpenter (mentioning no-names -could of probably done some reconstruction- Maybe!! )

(3) Also, sorry forgot to ask why was it Foam Filled?

Liz,

(1) I agree. It does not look what a trench looked like 90 years ago. This is dealt with in the article the link leads to.

(2) I'm afraid I don't understand.

(3) It was filled with foam concrete for the stability of the road. (Industrial estate with heavy traffic.) That's why only the part below the road or very near was filled. Or should have. For the men doing this did not do a fine job. When we entered again in the summer of 2001, it appeared that part had collapsed, where the two corridors joined (T junction), so that there was no longer a connection between the two entrances.

Aurel

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Max Poilu

I was lucky enought to visit the Zonnebeke Brickworks dug-out during the short period in which it was open. It was closed for most of the exact same reasons Aurel outlined above that do not enable the opening of the Yorkshire trench.

I have to say the Zonnebeke Brickworks site was interesting but not that impressive, the new complex at the Zonnebeke museum will give you a far better impression of what it actually was like in an underground dwelling.

Hats off to Aurel for the Yorkshire trench system - a really valuable addition to the Ypres 'circuit'.

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LizM

Thanks all for your response.

Good pics John!

Giles have been to Zonnebeke and it is very good, a must to visit if coming to the Salient.

Liz

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paul guthrie

I found the Zonnebeke brickworks dugout quite impressive! I think it was larger than most, could hold a company or so, and most important it was the real thing, original in all respects and I sure wish I could go again and that all of you could also.

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Patrick H

Aurel,

Thanks for the link, i wish i had seen it before March when I took a group of boys over to Ypres as although we visited the trench I did not have all the info necessary to answer their questions! I do now !

I find it pleasing that despite the onward march of progress we have those who devote time and effort to preserving a little of our history, and as for it being in the middle of an industrial estate- all the better, since it reminds us that our boys fought and died to allow Belgium to become a free nation and that in itself allows for progress. I should imagine that many lorry drivers passing the site will devote a thought to it.

As for the method of its preservation/construction I believe an excellent job has been done and I think it is better than the "preserved" trenches at Vimy Ridge.

For the boys who visited they actually found the site of more interest than the trenches at Sanctuary Wood since these were far too wet to enter. Indeed they asked for another visit to the site before our departure for home !

Regards

Patrick

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Max Poilu

I do not think the Bremen Redoubt at the Zonnebeke Brickworks may ever open again but here are a couple of rather murky photos I took when down there in November 1997:

post-569-1115909258.jpg

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Max Poilu

Just before the second photo one more point on Yorkshire; Aurel's site explains very clearly why it had to be done the way it is - I first visited last December on a typical misty dank Flanders morning. I had to drag myself away from feeling compelled to stare for hours down that tunnel through the wire mesh into the dark wet flooded passage. We would all like to be able to go in and explore of course but the way you have to imagine what lies below and contemplate what happened for the men who lived down there makes it very special just the way it is. Ramble, ramble...!

Anyway, another view of Bremen:

post-569-1115909664.jpg

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Aurel Sercu
I do not think the Bremen Redoubt at the Zonnebeke Brickworks may ever open again (...)

Giles,

Open again ? As far as I know it's gone. Completely. One or two years ago.

Aurel

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paul guthrie

Meaning Aurel that it's collapsed? How? I was in it in 98, lucky.

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bkristof

Bremen Redoubt at Zonnebeke is completely destroyed! Collapsed + dammaged by the digging machines of the brickworks.

But maybe the future will reveal new sites to visit.

I had my discussion about the Yorkshire trench...

I still say that is is misbuild. Too narrow, the sandbags must be outside the A-frame. I understans that some parts were like that (repairs).

One of the ultimate test was goin in it with full equipment. Not me, i am too fat... But others of our living history group told me too that thay couldn't move in it. And it was impossible to pass eacother (not very interesting in a trench).

I think that Aurel will agree that on that point the Bayerwald site is much better.

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Max Poilu

Aurel,

I did not know that, I get to Ypres very little these days. Oh well, enjoy the photographs folks. ;)

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john w.

Shame... Giles are they the only ones you have???

John

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Aurel Sercu

Paul,

I don't remember when exactly but maybe 1.5 or 2 years ago I heard that an appeal was made (by the owner of the brickworks ?) to have it de-classified (sorry, don't know the correct word in English ; no longer protected).

The structure was rapidly decaying and was become unsafe. (I myself have never been inside, but I think it was closed to visitors years ago. (5 ? 6 ?)

I think it was impossible to preserve it. It was not below the water table, so it was damp all the time, and disintegrated. Had it been below the water table throughout the year it would have been different. But then of course itwould not have been accessible.

Aurel

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Max Poilu

John,

I will check for any others. I cannot be sure but I think it was only open for a year or so? I seem to recall when we went back a year or so later (1998) it was closed.

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