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Remembered Today:

Yorkshire Trench


Mark Hone
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Sorry if there's already been material about this on the forum which I have missed but what is the current state of play with regard to the Boesinghe site? Is part of it being preserved and opened to visitors? That seems to be the message of a recent schools' mailshot I received from In Flanders Fields. I don't have any more details as the letter they sent me said that a new 2003 brochure was enclosed-but it wasn't! I hope they didn't repeat that mistake on the thousands of other mailshots they made to British schools at the same time.

On the subject of 'In Flanders...'. I enjoyed their 'Deadlines' exhibition which we visited on our battlefields tour in October. I'm still not a huge fan of the 'sensory overload' style of presentation which was employed at times. Some of the presentation was very imaginative though-for example their Berlin Wall section with the same piece of film with different commentaries. The older boys particularly got quite a lot out of it.

Following my Nth visit to the main exhibition I still think that the narrative thread fizzles out about half way through (what happened to 3rd Ypres and the Lys Offensive?) and the audio-visual 'horrors of the trenches' room just doesn't work for me.

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Mark,

Aurel Sercu the spokesman of the Diggers would be the best man to tell you about it but I am affraid that, after the re-broadcasting of ' the Forgotten Battlefield' yesterday, he is going to be a very busy man in the next few days. So he surely won't feel offended if I reply to your question about 'Yorkshire Trench'.

Normally the site would be open to public in May but I heard lately that there could be a small delay. The trench itself is in instance of being restored and this is wonderfully done by the Diggers. Woodwork is almost finished; just the finishing touch (i.e. sandbags) and the Ypres Salient will have a truly fantastic new feature. The trench itself (at least the preserved part) and the two entrances to the dugout will be visible. Educative panels will guide the visitors through the site. A poppy field will be included.

Jacky

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Thanks, Jacky, for taking over for a while. I appreciate.

And yes, replying to the emails after the repeat of "The Forgotten Battlefield" takes quite a bit of my time. However, replying to what Mark asked is not what I would call time-consuming.

I can confirm what Jacky wrote. Will the project be finished by end May 2003 ? I certainly hope so. But it is a bit hard to predict. A problem is that part of the work will have to be done by a local school (metal stairs, making the wooden duckboards), and a large part - the final part - by Ypres technical services (information panels, lawn, plants, bushes, paths, showing where the dugout is underneath by means of dolomite paths at the surface, making the site accessible to wheelchairs etc.) Hard to say if the time schedule will be respected.

As far as we (the Diggers) are concerned : we take care of the actual restoration of the trench itself. And I can assure you : if the drainage system we had installed beginning of December had not worked, we all would have had trench feet by now ! We have also strengthened the trench sides, so that they don't collapse anymore. (There has been quite a bit of rain in the UK lately, but I can assure you that Flanders was not any better.)

But a lot more has to be done. Placing hundreds (thousands?) of sandbags should be done in the near future. But : how many bags, how much time, energy, manpower will it take ? We hope for the best...

I do realize that I should have given information on our Diggers website about this, but for some reason I just did not find the time. And besides, I did not really know at what stage of the project. I had in mind : some time end of February or so (sandbag time) ?

Anyway, I hope this information is useful.

Aurel Sercu

www.diggers.be

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After visiting Aurel and the Diggers at the site in October, I have to just add that when this site is complete it will be evey bit as exciting as any of the other areas of the Salient and I wish them well with the fantastic work that they are doing.

As for Mark's comments, I too saw the exhibition Dead Lines and the Cloth Hall museum and was also not greatly impressed by the "technology" overload that was employed, but then again this is just a personal opinion and no doubt others will say it was wonderful.

As for the sandbags....sounds like a job for the Army to me!

Regards

Andrew

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I think if someone as an individual or as a group wants to visit 'Yorkshire Trench' that won't be a problem. Provided you are equiped with a good pair of 'wellies' and even possibly a good shovel.

Jackie ;)

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Congratulations to all involved with this project. I would certainly like to visit in April if poss.

As regards the sandbags, perhaps an invite could be extended to a Royal Engineers unit with a Yorkshire connection ! No doubt TV would be interested with a good bit of PR for all concerned. Problem is ,the British Army may be a bit busy in the near future.

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It sounds fantastic. I shall definitely be bringing my students, but sadly not until 2004 as our trip this year is to Arnhem. However I very much hope to be in Ieper this Summer on my own personal tour, so I shall pop in for a recce. A pity I can't make the forum dinner as I have previous commitments in April. I plan to stage a dinner in October 2004 in Ieper, as I've mentioned before on this forum, to commemorate 10 years of our school battlefield tours.

Keep up the marvellous work,

Mark Hone

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