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Belwaarde Rideg & Hooge Crater

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Guest Tobin

A few years back I stayed at the Hooge Chateau hotel. The owners had been digging some replica trenches in the grounds and I had a poke around in the bottom of one of the partial excavations which resulted in me finding a body. The body was subsequently buried as an unknown Belgium soldier. Did the Belgians fight around the present day crater in the hotel grounds at all? Later the same day I found a Royal Scots Fusiliers collar badge between the Hooge Chateau lake and the Royal Engineers monument in front of Railway wood. Does anyone know when this was likely lost. I also found a 1907 pattern bayonet in the side of the water filled crater behind the engineers monument. The crater had been half drained for cattle water and the remains of dugouts and scrapes were visible on the Belwaarde ridge side of the crater. There was a large and curious fish in the remaining water! Any idea when this was last occupied by the British army?.

Regards

Tobin

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AOK4

Hello Tobin,

I doubt that your body was buried as an unknown Belgian soldier. There were no Belgian soldiers at Hooge (apart from some policemen in August-October 1914 who chased on German cavalry patrols). I haven't heard about anyone from them being killed or even being buried in the Chateau grounds. They would have buried the body on a civilian cemetery in those days.

I guess there were lots of RSF in the area. It's difficult to date it. It could be from the 2/RSF who wrongly attacked Chateau Wood on July 31st 1917? There was even a Court of Inquiry for the purpose of inquiring into "the circumstances and responsibilities of commanders of units concerned: ( a ) for the failure of the 30th Division to capture the "black line" on 31st July : ( b ) for the failure of the 90th Infantry Brigade to get to its objective, and the loss of direction of two of its battalions."

Jan

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Cliff. Hobson

Whilst doing some research on soldiers from my home village I picked up the following, though where from I can't remember. On the 30th July 1915 the Hooge Sector, Ypres. was attacked by the Germans, achieving complete surprise with dramatic suddeness the ruins of the stables at Hooge Chateau were blown up and jets of flame shot across from the German trenches. This was the first time in warfare that liquid fire flamethrowers had been used. The British front line was evacuated .

A surprise attack by the British 6th Division, (including the 2nd Bn. Sherwood Foresters, my inclusion) on the 9th August 1915 regained all the ground lost including the ruins of the Chateau Stables. The Division sufferd 1800 casualties.

I was given rather a sad letter by the Great niece of a Pte. Joseph William Taylor, 2nd Bn. S/F. Killed in Action 9th August 1915 age 20. commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial.

The distressing news was conveyed to the Parents of Joseph Taylor in a letter from L/ Cpl. Bilbie of Creswell dated 11 th August 1915. " Dear friends I am writing a few lines to you on behalf of your dear son Joe as he was in my section and he and I were pals. So I am very sorry to say that he was killed yesterday, 9th, in action while in a charge as he died a young hero and a man, surely he would have been mentioned for his bravery. He was well liked by us all and could not afford to lose a hero like him but thank God he died at his post. He was hit by a bullet and died in a second without uttering a word ( a familiar last sentence ?).

When the charge was over, we had the worst to go through that was the Roll Call. We were very badly cut up, losing a terrible lot of men but still he will not be forgot by all that is living from the big battle. We were fighting for eighteeen hours and never stopped we lost about 400 men from our Battalion. I am very much upset at present. I saw a letter sent to him and when it came seeing that it came from Whitwell. I took charge of it and opened it in order that I might find your address and return the letter. He also had a parcel come and it was opened by my order and divided up amongst his comrades as we all make that "will" before we go into action, to share everything up and answer to any letters that come for us

|I hope you will take note as a token from his comrades as he will be buried tonight and put with the other brave heroes.

So I must give you all my hearts blessing and hope to see your Son's grave done properly tonight and I will put up a Cross.

L/Cpl E Bilbie, B. Coy. 2nd. Batt. Sherwood Foresters.

B.E.F. Belgium.

note. There was another man. Pte. C. Jackson, 2nd S/F also from Whitwell killed in the same action.

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Aurel Sercu

Hi Tobin,

With regard to Royal Scots Fusiliers collar badge you found near Railway Wood... Hard indeed to say when it was likely lost.

This is the area where on 16 June 1915 the 3rd Division attacked (First Attack on Bellewaarde). In this Division : the 1st Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers (9th Bde). The spot where this battalion attacked : very near to where the present Royal Engineers Monument is now, extending from this monument to approx. 200 metres south of it. (Which is due west of Bellewaarde Farm, and due west of Bellewaarde Lake (= Hooge Chateau Lake ?). So the exact place where you found the badge may be decisive for the date it was lost.)

The Battalion's casualties were heavy. One officer and 36 men fell, 202 men were missing. (J. Buchan, The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. 'Soldiers died in the Great War' gives the names of 114 KIAs and DOWs.)

In the fight at Hooge in early August the 9th Bde was in reserve.

Aurel Sercu

Ypres

www.diggers.be

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Guest Tobin

Dear Jan,

Thanks for your help. The CWGC confirmed to me that the chap was buried as an unknown Belgium soldier which really suprised me as I did not think that they had fought on the site at all. Someone told me that there had been a spat with their soliders on the site in 1914 but could confirm no more. Hence my post. I will try and turn up the email from CWGC with the plot number. This all happened about three of four years ago.

Thanks again for your help

Tobin

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Guest Tobin

Dear Aurel,

Thanks for your mail. I have never had to work with NSE & W aroud Ypres but I the badge was found about 300 yds south east of the RE memorial. (Carry on the path past the memorial, along the side of the new wood with the large craters in it to the end of the wood. In front of you is the lake about 400 yds away and to the right you cut down to (I think) the culvert as it is called. Turn 90 degrees right towards the culvert for maybe 50 yeards and as you crest the slightest of hills and start down a gentle slope (and come into clear sight of the lake and the chateau wood) was where it was found. I also found a cut throat razer and quite a few GS buttons in the same spot.

Hope this is of help.

Best regards

Tobin

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Guest Tobin

Dear Jan,

The data I got from CWGC was

"Further to my e-mail of 12 January 2001 concerning the above subject I have

now heard from our office in Belgium and they have informed me that the

location of the grave in question is as follows:-

The Belgian Military Plot of De Panne Town Cemetery. The precise location is

on the right hand side on entering the site, the second grave bearing the

words "Onbekende Soldaat". This is the information which was supplied by an

official of The Ministry of the Interior."

I found him in October 2000. Time flies, it seems much longer ago.

Best Regards

Tobin

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AOK4

Hello Tobin,

This is very strange... I will try to find more information about this.

Do you have any pictures of the excavation? Or do you remember anything about the uniform of that soldier?

Jan

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Jacky Platteeuw

I also find it particularly strange that a Belgian Soldier was found there. However I heard a story that once a lot of belgian great coats have been found in the area. I don't recall if they were 1st or 2nd WW.

One option could be that the Belgian soldier was acting as 'liaison'.

Jacky

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Marco

The story of the greatcoats is true, I was there when the owner of the trenches (there is a debate if these were reconstructions or excavations ;-) ) was cleaning them. This bloke was b.t.w. not the owner of the hotel. What was strange is that they were found in the German lines and all were of different Belgian regiments. Not one the same. It was speculated that there were perhaps the collection of a German soldier.

An observation: Jacky and Jan can probably look forward to more 'minecraters' around RE memorial in the near future. Tobin's excellent description on the internet will certainly attract 'attention'. This is the main reason for us not to disclose locations of our chance finds.

Regards,

Marco

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AOK4

I read stories of German officers "collecting" captured militaria, but taking them in the trenches is another matter. The "collection" was then usually kept with the baggage.

About minecraters: there are a lot of them left in that area. And yes, too much attention is not always a good thing. It attracts also people who are just looking for treasure...

Jan

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