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Visiting Ypres, Somme and Loos - can you help please?


Martin Perry
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Help !! :D

I am taking my father on a trip over to see the main areas in which his father and father in law (my grandad's !) saw action.

Their combined service covers from 1st Oct 1914 to the end of the war, and their battalions were present at the locations listed below (1st Queens West Surreys and 2nd Devons)

I'd really appreciate it if you could please let me know what you consider to be the other ABSOLUTELY MUST SEE places that I should not avoid (museums; memorials; crators; saved trenches etc etc etc) whilst I take my father around in Sept.

Obviously, I will be taking him to all the locations listed below which are applicable to the 2 battalions, but I want to also include as many other battlefield places of importance as I can as we go through our tour.

I have my own list of things and places such as Menin Gate in Ypres and the last post at 8.00pm; Thiepval Memorial; Newfoundland Memorial Park etc etc) but would be grateful of as many other possibilities to pop onto our agenda for the week we are away !

Anyway my current agenda sees me visiting:

1. 1st Ypres Oct '14: to include Poelcappelle / Langemarsh; Bellewaards Farm; Veldhock Wood and Gheluvelt

2. The Loos Sept '15 : To include Auchy; Vermelles and Hohenzollen

3. The Somme July+ '16 : to include Ovillers / Boiselle; Mametz; High Wood; Bazentin; Fricourt; Le Transloy and Guillement

4. The Somme March '17 : To include St Pierre Vaast Wood; Moislains Wood; Lierement; Revelon and Heudicourt

5. 3rd Ypres July '17 : To include Bellewaards Farm; Ypres - Roulers railway; Westhoek and Polygon Wood

6. The Somme March to May ‘18: To include St Christ; Harbonnieres; Moreuil; Villers Bretonneux; Bois Des Buttes

Thanks for you help. B)

Martin

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Martin

Too much to mention - not necessarily related to where your relatives served but some of the main sites are:

On the Somme go to Serre, Hawthorn Crater and the sunken road at Beaumont Hamel, Lochnagar Crater, Devonshire Cemetery at Mametz to name but a few. Serre requires a short walk to the copses from where the Pals Battalions launched their attacks on 1st July 1916. Traces of front-line trench are still visible. Hawthorn Crater was created by the mine filmed by Geoffrey Malins. He also filmed the troops about to go over the top in the Sunken Lane opposite. Lochnagar Crater is worth visiting as it gives an idea of the scale of these mines. Devonshire Cemetery is perhaps the most poignant on the Somme with members of that regiment buried in the trench from which they had attacked.

For Ypres I would add the beautiful Ramparts Cemetery which is a ten minute walk along the ramparts from the Menin Gate. I often visit before attending the Last Post Ceremony which makes both all the more poignant. Hill 60 is a must. You might consider visiting Talbot House at Poperinghe and calling off at Brandhoek on the way to see the grave of Noel Chavasse the double VC winner. Museums abound at Ypres though many (myself included) feel that "In Flanders Fields" in the Cloth Hall is a victory of style over substance. However do go to the museum in Zonnebeke, the staff of which play a great part on this forum. It is well worth the visit. The deli opposite the entrance also make sandwiches to order and speak English which makes it a great lunch stop. Continue on to see Tyne Cot if you have not visited before - the scale is staggering. Essex Farm north of Ypres is also one to visit at least once in your life as is Hooge Crater cemetery which could be combined with Bellewaerde Ridge and the Royal Engineers memorial. The cemeteries in Polygon Wood are some of the most beautiful in the area. Finally Messines Ridge and its mine craters are well worth a visit. Spanbroekmolen should be on your itinerary. You could do worse to follow the road south to Ploegsteert Wood. If walking is no problem the three cemeteries in the wood are quite haunting.

Finally at Loos visit the memorial at Dud Corner and if visiting the Hohenzollern redoubt park outside Quarry Cemetery near Vermelles. You might also wish to visit the grave of John Kipling, son of Rudyard though the identification of this grave a few years ago was contentious.

Hope these meanderings help but my main advice would be to buy the Holts guides Western Front North, Western Front South or the more detailed volumes on the Somme and Ypres. Rose Coombs book "Before Endeavours Fade" is the longstanding bible of western front sites and well worth looking out.

Regards

Mike Shingleton

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I would only add the Hooge Museum on the Menin Road - good place for a light lunch as well.

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Martin

I am not too sure about going anywhere relating to the 1918 battle.

I did a recce earlier this year, in that general area, for an elderly man to trace the steps his uncle took in the March 1918 retreat before his death.

Frankly, my conclusion was that it was too far, 90 miles round trip from Auchonvillers, and too long for this person to do. There is nothing very visible of a remembrance nature that I could find easily, apart from the Aus. Memorial at Villers_B.

Don't forget that the March retreat was rapid to say the least of it and nowadays the countryside does seem to be unspoilt by the tourism crowds.

Probably the area around V-B is the best as it was the scene of turning the tide. Areas around Hangard and Hangard Wood are also interesting.

I am sure that other Pals will have views on this area.

Good luck anyway.

Martin

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Martin

Too much to mention - not necessarily related to where your relatives served but some of the main sites are:

On the Somme go to Serre, Hawthorn Crater and the sunken road at Beaumont Hamel, Lochnagar Crater, Devonshire Cemetery at Mametz to name but a few. Serre requires a short walk to the copses from where the Pals Battalions launched their attacks on 1st July 1916. Traces of front-line trench are still visible. Hawthorn Crater was created by the mine filmed by Geoffrey Malins. He also filmed the troops about to go over the top in the Sunken Lane opposite. Lochnagar Crater is worth visiting as it gives an idea of the scale of these mines. Devonshire Cemetery is perhaps the most poignant on the Somme with members of that regiment buried in the trench from which they had attacked.

For Ypres I would add the beautiful Ramparts Cemetery which is a ten minute walk along the ramparts from the Menin Gate. I often visit before attending the Last Post Ceremony which makes both all the more poignant. Hill 60 is a must. You might consider visiting Talbot House at Poperinghe and calling off at Brandhoek on the way to see the grave of Noel Chavasse the double VC winner. Museums abound at Ypres though many (myself included) feel that "In Flanders Fields" in the Cloth Hall is a victory of style over substance. However do go to the museum in Zonnebeke, the staff of which play a great part on this forum. It is well worth the visit. The deli opposite the entrance also make sandwiches to order and speak English which makes it a great lunch stop. Continue on to see Tyne Cot if you have not visited before - the scale is staggering. Essex Farm north of Ypres is also one to visit at least once in your life as is Hooge Crater cemetery which could be combined with Bellewaerde Ridge and the Royal Engineers memorial. The cemeteries in Polygon Wood are some of the most beautiful in the area. Finally Messines Ridge and its mine craters are well worth a visit. Spanbroekmolen should be on your itinerary. You could do worse to follow the road south to Ploegsteert Wood. If walking is no problem the three cemeteries in the wood are quite haunting.

Finally at Loos visit the memorial at Dud Corner and if visiting the Hohenzollern redoubt park outside Quarry Cemetery near Vermelles. You might also wish to visit the grave of John Kipling, son of Rudyard though the identification of this grave a few years ago was contentious.

Hope these meanderings help but my main advice would be to buy the Holts guides Western Front North, Western Front South or the more detailed volumes on the Somme and Ypres. Rose Coombs book "Before Endeavours Fade" is the longstanding bible of western front sites and well worth looking out.

Regards

Mike Shingleton

Wow!! Cheers Mike - thank you so much for your time in laying this out for me. I've actually got Rose Coombs BEF and it has allowed me to start to pencil things in, but theres just SO much detail there!! Very grateful for you being able to simplify things (time is ticking away and I need to get things organised!)

Cheers again

Martin

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I would only add the Hooge Museum on the Menin Road - good place for a light lunch as well.

Thanks Squirrel - appreciate the advice.

Martin

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Martin

I am not too sure about going anywhere relating to the 1918 battle.

I did a recce earlier this year, in that general area, for an elderly man to trace the steps his uncle took in the March 1918 retreat before his death.

Frankly, my conclusion was that it was too far, 90 miles round trip from Auchonvillers, and too long for this person to do. There is nothing very visible of a remembrance nature that I could find easily, apart from the Aus. Memorial at Villers_B.

Don't forget that the March retreat was rapid to say the least of it and nowadays the countryside does seem to be unspoilt by the tourism crowds.

Probably the area around V-B is the best as it was the scene of turning the tide. Areas around Hangard and Hangard Wood are also interesting.

I am sure that other Pals will have views on this area.

Good luck anyway.

Martin

I am coming to the same conclussion as I become obsessed with this particular part of the family research! It's pretty apparent that most of the guidebooks / tour advice / memorials etc make little mention of this area do they!

The reason why I am so interested is that Grandfather Bryan (joined as Pte but became Lance Corporal of his section at some point - can't find the date), received a parchment certificate for the part he played through the retreat from St. Christ and the counter attack at Harbonniere. The award is actually mentioned in the Battalion War Diary that I've now scoured from top to bottom (!) as being awarded by the Divisional Commander for gallentry and devotion to duty on 18th April 1918.

So you see, I've a vested interest in trying to retrace his steps; brave chap. I guess I'll take my Dad on a nice meander through the countryside and just absorb some of the atmosphere. There appear to be quite a lot of small British cemetaries in the area, so perhaps a couple of visits there as well.

Thanks again for your help

Kind regards

Martin

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Martin.

The only thing I would add to Mike's comprehensive list is a visit to the reconstructed German Trenches at Bayernwald (Croonaert Wood). The access code is available from the Kemmel Tourist office (see this link for details). It also shows really well the difference a few meters of height can make.

Have a great trip.

Neil

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I guess I'll take my Dad on a nice meander through the countryside and just absorb some of the atmosphere. There appear to be quite a lot of small British cemetaries in the area, so perhaps a couple of visits there as well.

Martin

Martin

This nice meander may well take you 3-4 hours. Seriously.

By the way, if you do end up at the cemetery at Hourges Orchard, WATCH THE JUNCTION otherwise you might join the inhabitants there!

The road splits just outside the cemetery for 20 metres or so and it is not proprly marked. Madness.

Martin

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Martin

This nice meander may well take you 3-4 hours. Seriously.

By the way, if you do end up at the cemetery at Hourges Orchard, WATCH THE JUNCTION otherwise you might join the inhabitants there!

The road splits just outside the cemetery for 20 metres or so and it is not proprly marked. Madness.

Martin

Wheres Hourges Orchard?

Cheers

Martin

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From the CWGC site:

Domart-sur-la-Luce is a village and commune in the Department of the Somme in the valley of the Luce on the road from Amiens to Roye. Hourges is a hamlet on the same road a little south-east of the village and Hourges Orchard Cemetery is on the south-west side of the road.

Martin

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From the CWGC site:

Domart-sur-la-Luce is a village and commune in the Department of the Somme in the valley of the Luce on the road from Amiens to Roye. Hourges is a hamlet on the same road a little south-east of the village and Hourges Orchard Cemetery is on the south-west side of the road.

Martin

I think I've got it! Near Demuin?

Cheers

Martin

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Hello Martin.

Just follow your heart and your Fathers wishes, your planned trip sounds excellent, covers a lot of ground that both your Grandfathers experienced and gave their lives for. Mike's suggestions are great, covered many of them myself and may I say have mentally added others to my list of places to visit in October this year!

I Don't know how old your Dad is but there is so much to see and experience. So perhaps tailor your visit to suit your Dad, taking in some of Mike's suggestions and add them to your trip, time permitting of course.

Whatever you decide, have a great trip, enjoy every moment, it can be very emotional, cause mixed feelings and yet great pride and humility. When one looks over the Battlefields or stand among the rows and rows of headstones in one of the cemeteries where I have shed many tears, It is hard to imagine what our loved ones and their comrades endured in that terrible conflict, practically a whole generation wiped out. what for?

Enjoy, (The beer's good too!).

Regards.

Terry W,

;)

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Hello Martin.

Just follow your heart and your Fathers wishes, your planned trip sounds excellent, covers a lot of ground that both your Grandfathers experienced and gave their lives for. Mike's suggestions are great, covered many of them myself and may I say have mentally added others to my list of places to visit in October this year!

I Don't know how old your Dad is but there is so much to see and experience. So perhaps tailor your visit to suit your Dad, taking in some of Mike's suggestions and add them to your trip, time permitting of course.

Whatever you decide, have a great trip, enjoy every moment, it can be very emotional, cause mixed feelings and yet great pride and humility. When one looks over the Battlefields or stand among the rows and rows of headstones in one of the cemeteries where I have shed many tears, It is hard to imagine what our loved ones and their comrades endured in that terrible conflict, practically a whole generation wiped out. what for?

Enjoy, (The beer's good too!).

Regards.

Terry W,

;)

Hi Terry

Thanks very much for your comments, and yes I'm looking forward to getting my Dad over there!

He's 80, and he's never known what either his father or father-in-law got involved in during the long campaign, and will be lovely to give him a flavour of what they both did for us. To our generation's shame, it was never a subject high on the school history curriculum and I never actually understood too much about the campaign myself (why on earth we learnt about the Jacobite rebellion, and the Tudors & Stewarts instead is absolutely mindblowing....) so it's been a steep learning curve for me !

I only started to research things back in April, and have to say that you guys on this Forum are absolutely fantastic! The advice from everyone has been just incredible, and it's helped me push on pretty quickly with both grandfathers research - to the point where I reckon to have a reasonably clear idea of where both were at pivotal moments of the campaign. The reading of both battalion war diaries was probably the most spine tingling piece of reading I have ever completed - just jaw dropping, and it will hopefully help me bring things into context for Dad and help him piece together a part of his father's / father-in-law's life that he did not understand.

I understand how emotional it will be for him as I took him back to Gold Beach and the Normandy area of France back in 1984 to commermorate the 40th anniversary of HIS induction to the war in France on 6th June 1944 at 07.30am as an 18 year old member of the RASC. I found it profoundly moving. It was Dads first visit since the war, and it made an incredible impact on him - the image of him gazing out from Aromanche at the Mulberry harbour with tears rolling down his cheeks is something that will live with me forever. It was a lovely week as father and son, and I hope to replicate it on different battlefields in Sept !

Many thanks again for your comments, and I'll make sure that I post a few pictures when we return!

Kind regards

Martin B)

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I'd take in the dragon at Mametz Wood.

Bernard

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Everything sorted for our trip, and just wanted to thank everyone who contributed for their suggestions! They really helped to get some additional 'hot spots' for the trip in place, and I'm really grateful.

I'll post a few bits on the forum when we get back, but is there particular photo that I can try and get for anyone (I'll try my best to get anything requested if its within my power!!)

Cheers again

Martin

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Looking forward to your report. I am accopanying my 83 year old mother to Somme area to visit her uncle's grave at Corbie and visit some of the sites around Albert and Guilliemont where he died on 8th August 1916.

Have a good trip.

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