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Remembered Today:

Langemarck Bunkers


Greg
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Dear all,

Anyone know whether the bunkers in Langemarck cemtery are original or whether they were part of the cemetery design? They appear undamaged and too close together to make sense from a military perspective.

Greg

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The three bunkers are original, were built for housing troops (which is why they are so close together) and were once part of the German Hindenburg-line between Langemark and Geluveld.

Roel

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Dear Roel,

Many thanks for your reply-do you happen to know if the story about the right hand bunker ie that it was captured by Pvt. Dancox of the Worcestershire Regiment is true?

Regards

Greg

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Sorry Greg, that story is new to me...

Roel

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Greg - Dancox won his VC some way from the cemetery - at Namur Crossing, where the light railway crossed a road. The path of the railway is still there on the far side of the field opposite the cemetery and you cross it as you drive through Langemark on the way to the cemetery. It's now a cycle-path. Namur Crossing was along this railway line and thus on the other side of the road and off to the left (as you leave the cemetery gatehouse).

Tom

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The three bunkers are original, were built for housing troops (which is why they are so close together) and were once part of the German Hindenburg-line between Langemark and Geluveld.

Marking the path of the Wilhelm-Stellung in the area, I believe that these mebu were actually placed/constructed in the cemetery in 1930! There were indeed 3 of them in the vicinity just north of the (old) cemetery, but not quite in the same locations (and more spaced too) as these. These are purely symbolic.

Dave.

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Marking the path of the Wilhelm-Stellung in the area, I believe that these mebu were actually placed/constructed in the cemetery in 1930! There were indeed 3 of them in the vicinity just north of the (old) cemetery, but not quite in the same locations (and more spaced too) as these. These are purely symbolic.

Dave.

My thoughts entirely however, I was not sure of the date! Thanks Dave.

Chris.

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Hmmm. I've been googling a bit to find confirmation of whatever story, but no result.

There is a history-site saying "the three German bunkers that are still in the cemetery can see memories of fighting". Which confirms the bunkers were already there during the war. Then again, the fact something is published on a website doesn't necessarily mean it's true!

Personally I would find it a bit cynical to build bunkers in a cemetery...

Roel

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Personally I would find it a bit cynical to build bunkers in a cemetery...

They symbolically link the regimental memorials between them in a very subtle sign of defiance. I find it a very powerful symbol, enhanced only by the bunkers (Think along the lines of a more extreme version of "The Devonshires held this trench...etc..."). Most German cemeteries are absolutely brimming with symbolism if you look closely. There's certainly nothing cynical about the bunkers - though if they were placed there 3 years later, I might have thought differently! :ph34r:

dave

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There is a history-site saying "the three German bunkers that are still in the cemetery can see memories of fighting". Which confirms the bunkers were already there during the war. Then again, the fact something is published on a website doesn't necessarily mean it's true!

Quite a few websites (and guidebooks and tourguides!) say that they're original, but it certainly doesn't mean that they are. One of the problems with the internet is that the myths of today rapidly become the facts of tomorrow, whereas ,in the past, it took a lot longer.

German cemeteries, especially "famous" ones such as Langemark , seem specifically high up in the myths league for some reason - just hang around one for a few hours and listen to all the different tales that you hear from the various guided parties that arrive (it can be quite an amusing pastime as the tales vary from absolutely spot on to absolute bullsh*t, depending on who's telling the stories). Problem is - even the stories that are absolute bull can usually be corroborated somewhere on the www! I sometimes genuinely fear for the truth of the future. :mellow:

Dave

(PS. I see that the Vdk description of Langemark now has the (slightly vague) phrase..."Im Gräberfeld in Langemark wird die alte Frontlinie markiert durch drei Bunker aus der Kampfzeit..." which could incorrectly give the impression that these were originally sited here during the war. Funny that - not too long ago, it was the Vdk themselves who were correcting people for saying that they were original!)

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I see that the Vdk description of Langemark now has the (slightly vague) phrase..."Im Gräberfeld in Langemark wird die alte Frontlinie markiert durch drei Bunker aus der Kampfzeit..." which could incorrectly give the impression that these were originally sited here during the war. Funny that - not too long ago, it was the Vdk themselves who were correcting people for saying that they were original!)

I was also hoping to find the correct answer on the VDK-website.

Sadly, when it comes to cemetery-questions about WW1, the Volksbund doesn't always prove to be the best informed source. It's even worse when the VDK itself confirms what really is a myth!

Roel

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It's not just the Vdk, Roel ..."'Tyne Cot' or 'Tyne Cottage' was the name given by the Northumberland Fusiliers to a barn which stood near the level crossing on the Passchendaele-Broodseinde road...". A nice "adaption" by the CWGC there! ;)

Unfortunately, it's this type of thing - especially with (mis)information being so easy to obtain online these days - that worries me.

Dave.

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This has set me thinking… The bunkers are certainly remarkably unscathed and I had assumed that they had been refaced.

Here are the three bunkers that Dave refers to north of the cemetery on a trench map of 6/3/1918 and a modern aerial view from http://geo-vlaanderen.gisvlaanderen.be/geo.../kleurenortho/#.

post-1722-1211540986.jpgpost-1722-1211540998.jpg

I took the coordinates of the three bunkers from the trench map using Linesman and put them into Google earth:

post-1722-1211541082.jpg

You can see that the surviving bunkers do not seem to be closer together than those on the trench map and apart from the position of the road are well within the cemetery perimeter. Linesman indicates 80 feet between the western and centre bunker and 50 feet between the centre and easternmost.

Perhaps someone on the ground with GPS and/or Linesman can confirm their position more precisely but (apart from the altered position of the road) I do not see evidence that they do not match the known locations of the original bunkers. I would like to see some evidence that the bunkers were built in the 1930s rather than during the war.

Simon

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. I would like to see some evidence that the bunkers were built in the 1930s rather than during the war.

I only have word of mouth and no documentary evidence of their 1930 (specific year, not a general date) construction from a chap who used to work on the cemetery prior and post WW2. They were constructed for it's "official" opening in July 1932.

The "bunkers" shown on the 1918 trenchmap aren't necessarily even concrete (if you notice elsewhere on the map, a majority of concrete bunkers are marked with a "c" and groups of concrete bunkers tend to , if not all being so marked, have at least one of the group marked as such.

If you look at the below trenchmaps (the one without the bunkers showing is just for illustrative purposes to show a clearer view of the trench layout), you'll notice that the 2 bunkers (the 3rd one seems to have been lost in the print) are shown as specifically not being of concrete construction.

I still have my doubts as to the current bunkers being in the correct position, but feel that, if they are, then they have simply been made on the site of previous shelters.

Dave

...

post-357-1211543193.jpg

post-357-1211543244.jpg

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The bunkers are WWI-bunkers (built between second and third Ypres), but they were restored/renovated when the cemetery was inaugurated in 1932... If you look close to them, the restorated parts can be seen.

A map is not always completely accurate.

On the first map, you can see the red line, indicating the German trenches from where the first gas-attack was launched on April 22 1915.

On the Gis-picture, you can see the same red line.

On the second Gis-picture, I zoomed in. Then you can see that the frontline from the map is not completely on the line with the concrete blocks indicating the trench, but there is only a distance of a few meters...

dmb1.jpg

dmb2.jpg

dmb3.jpg

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That looks good to me, when I looked at Simon's map's I was convinced, as I there last April and they looked like they where always there, and why would you move or rebuild them ? Robert's maps only proved the point to me.

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Robert's images seem to have been resized since I looked at them five minutes ago and are now too small to see properly.

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I've indeed resized them (to not disturb the forum-layout), Simon, but on the third picture, you can clearely see the red line (copied from the trenchline on the trenchmap) and the actual line with the concrete blocks (under the trees).

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Thanks - my eyesight is not what it was!

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Gordon Bennett! Who needs Poirot when you lot are around! :lol: I now believe the re construction idea, rather than construction in 1932 is the more probable.

Great stuff guys!

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