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Thread: My interest in WW1, with LOTS of details and pictures.

  1. #1
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    My interest in WW1, with LOTS of details and pictures.

    I'd like to share my recent trip to France and Belgium with you guys

    I'm a huge WW1/WW2 nerd, and it is of massive interest to me. Last week I went across to Belgium to see some of the more interesting sites, I took my camera and had an amazing time.

    We went across on the channel tunnel, and made our way through France into Belgium.

    First stop was Lijssenthoek Commonwealth war graves, during the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D'Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces.

    From April to August 1918, the casualty clearing stations fell back before the German advance and field ambulances (including a French ambulance) took their places.

    The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 being unidentified. There are 883 war graves of other nationalities, mostly French and German, 11 of these are unidentified. There is 1 Non World War burial here.







    This picture shows a third of the cemetery, a shocking introduction to my tour.



    As with almost all WW1 Commonwealth cemeteries there is a section of the site dedicated to the German burials.



    Despite Germany only making one payment towards the Commonwealth maintenence towards their WW1 war graves in 1921 these sites have been beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth, with GB making over 90% of the pro-rata contributions to these graves. Enough respect cannot ever be paid to the skilled Belgian workers who look after these historic sites.

    -

    Next stop was to pay respect at the resting place of Captain Noel Chavasse, the only double Victoria Cross winner of WW1 and quite frankly one of the most honerable characters of the war.



    The original entry by the war office for Captain Chavasse's efforts -

    Victoria Cross

    Chavasse was first awarded the VC for his actions on 9 August 1916, at Guillemont, France when he attended to the wounded all day under heavy fire. The full citation was published on 24 October 1916 and read:[6]

    Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, M.C., M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps.

    For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.

    During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuing night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy’s lines for four hours.

    Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and under heavy shell fire carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of twenty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty-five yards from the enemy’s trench, buried the bodies of two Officers, and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns.

    Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice, were beyond praise.
    His second VC was officially recorded with this entry -

    Chavasse’s second award was made during the period 31 July to 2 August 1917, at Wieltje, Belgium; the full citation was published on 14 September 1917 and read:[7]

    War Office, September, 1917.

    His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Victoria Cross to Capt. Noel Godfrey Chavasse, V.C., M.C., late K.A.M.C., attd. L’pool R.

    For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in action.

    Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the Dressing Station, Capt. Chavasse refused to leave his post, and for two days not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out.

    During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry in a number of badly wounded men, over heavy and difficult ground.

    By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example, he was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions.

    This devoted and gallant officer subsequently died of his wounds.
    Brandhoek Commonwealth cemetry is the location, this is the information board which greets you upon entry -








    All Commonwealth cemeteries have a safe which holds the historical burial records of the men who lay there, a handy tool for identifying any personal connection or graves of specific interest.





    Brandhoek is located between to houses, and backs onto the back gardens. As with most "small" Commonwealth sites.





    During the First World War, Brandhoek was within the area comparatively safe from shell fire which extended beyond Vlamertinghe Church. Field ambulances were posted there continuously.

    Until July 1917 burials had been made in the Military Cemetery, but the arrival of the 32nd, 3rd Australian and 44th Casualty Clearing Stations, in preparation for the new Allied offensive launched that month, made it necessary to open the New Military Cemetery. The New Military Cemetery No 3 opened in August and continued in use until May 1918.

    Brandhoek New Military Cemetery No 3 contains 975 First World War burials.

    -

    Next stop was Essex Farm, a very well established site which holds one of the youngest official burials of the Great War. A 14 year old child who lied about his age. A chilling tale.






    The land south of Essex Farm was used as a dressing station cemetery from April 1915 to August 1917. The burials were made without definite plan and some of the divisions which occupied this sector may be traced in almost every part of the cemetery, but the 49th (West Riding) Division buried their dead of 1915 in Plot I, and the 38th (Welsh) Division used Plot III in the autumn of 1916.

    There are 1,200 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 103 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 19 casualties known or believed to be buried among them.

    The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

    It was in Essex Farm Cemetery that Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of the Canadian Army Medical Corps wrote the poem ' In Flanders Fields' in May 1915.

    The 49th Division Memorial is immediately behind the cemetery, on the canal bank.

    Essex farm features preserved bunkers, which go a very small way to showing the shocking conditions of the Great War. Can you imagine being treated for your wounds in these areas, with costant mortar fire, little to no pain killers or drugs, mud, dirt, disease and death all around. Unimaginable in todays society, again the sacrifices and suffering must never be forgotten.







    This is a large bunker...



    And a standard size bunker -







    This walk shows the German front lines, and as far as the Germans got into Ypres. If they crossed the canal 20 yards to the right of this picture the war would have been all but lost.





    The Essex regiment memorial -



    The information boards at the site -





    -

    TBC.
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  3. #2
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    We then made our way to Yorkshire Trench, a site which was only recently uncovered in the development of a trading estate. This site has given up many of its treasures to the In Flanders museum within the Cloth Hall of Ypres.



    The position of the 1915 trench is shown at ground level by a wooden slatted path, but the 1917 section has been recreated. The 1915 trench location was around two yards behind that of 1917. An excellent addition to the sites available on the Ypres salient; there are not too many sites with preserved or recreated trenches, and this one based on the careful excavation of a site threatened with destruction, and the eventual saving of at least a portion of it for public view is laudable.



    To me this looks like a gateway to hell -



    The original parapet as it was placed during 1915 -





    A second dugout entrance -



    Due to the incredibly high water table in Belgium exploration of this site is limited, nobody knows what is honestly down there.



    This is a recreation of the duckboard structure which would have lined the base of the man dug trenches.



    -

    We took a change of direction now and headed toward the German cemetery of Langemarck. A VERY different experience to the British and Commonwealth sites.



    A very bold, proud and solemn site. Typical of the historic Germanic people.















    This mass grave contains 24,917 soldiers of whom 7,977 remain unknown. The names of those known are on the surrounding basalt blocks.











    These are the German head stones -



    The bronze statue of the four figures in this cemetery was created by the Munich sculptor Professor Emil Krieger.

    His inspiration was a photograph of soldiers from the Reserve-Infantry-Regiment 238. The photograph was taken in 1918 as the soldiers mourned at the grave of a comrade. This became a well-known photograph which appeared in the German press during 1918.

    The second soldier from the right was killed two days after the photograph was taken.



    The original picture -



    Oak trees were planted in this cemetery as the national symbol of Germany, signifying strength and pride. They have grown tall and now drown the site with a sombre atmosphere.

    In the Second World War, after the Battle of France in May 1940 the north and west of France and the whole of Belgium were occupied by the German Army. British and French troops had made a fighting withdrawal through this part of Flanders in south-west Belgium to the ports of Dunkirk and Calais, passing through some of the old battlegrounds of the First World War in the Ypres Salient. Some of the British casualties of May 1940 are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries side by side with British soldiers who died in this same place defending Belgian soil just over twenty years before them. The towns of Ypres and Poperinge were occupied for the next four years by the Germans until their liberation on 6th September 1944 by the Polish 1st Armoured Division.

    A local man from Wytschaete, south of Ypres, who was a young boy at the time, recalled the impression it made on him suddenly to see a convoy of big black cars and lots of German officers in their grey uniforms driving near his family's farmhouse. He hid in the wood owned by his family and watched Adolf Hitler walking nearby with his entourage of officers. In the First World War Hitler had served with the Bavarian Reserve-Infantry-Regiment 16 and had been in action south of Ypres in the area of Wytschaete on the Messines Ridge.

    Adolf Hitler spent two days visiting the Ypres Salient battlefields. His tour included the town of Ypres and Langemark military cemetery.






    Oak leaves decorate the interior of the memorial building.



    TBC...
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    Jardo, that is a fantastic write up. x
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    A quick shot of Messines Ridge during the war -



    And now taken from almost exactly the same location -



    -

    Menin gate was next, this is one of the most astounding places I have ever visited. Every single night the Belgians gather at this gate to show their respect to the Commonwealth soldiers who gave their lives to protect Belgium during the war.

    More on that later.

    -

    Some of the sights and sounds of Ypres (pretty much the best place in the world IMO), the entire city was totally flattened during the war and there wasn't a single building left standing. The entire city was rebuilt exactly as it was, and the great cloth hall wasn't rebuilt until the 1960's.



    This is where I spent a lot of time getting very drunk -















    A small portion of the cloth hall.









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    Awesome write up dude

    Both fascinating, and sobering. Respect.
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    Thanks for posting the pics.
    I have been meaning to make a visit to the battle fields for a few years now, having lost several family members in both conflicts, seeing your pics, only makes me want to plan my trip sooner.
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    So a little more of the Menin Gate.

    The Menin Gate is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

    The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

    There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

    The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.

    The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.

    The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates casualties from the forces of Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and United Kingdom who died in the Salient. In the case of United Kingdom casualties, only those prior 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. New Zealand casualties that died prior to 16 August 1917 are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.











    Can you see in these pictures how IMMACULATE Ypres is...No fag buts, no wrappers, no beer cans. The entire place is amazing, really something to be proud of.





    The "Last Post" plaque.



    The view of the bar



    Menin Gates memorial safe.



    -

    Next on the tour was Hill 60.

    Hill 60 is an amazing site, and is one of the most fought over pieces of territory in the entire front.

    And they were all fighting over this view -



    Hill 60 suffered an extremely turbulent history throughout the war. Heavily shelled and mined by both sides, the ground forming Hill 60 - literally 60 metres above sea-level - today remains the final resting place for countless soldiers buried somewhere beneath its grassy foundations.

    Even with such a slight incline - the man-made result of spoil from a nearby railway cutting in the nineteenth century (no longer present) - the hill proved an invaluable vantage point from which to view the wider battlefield and so was much sought and fought after by the allied and German forces.

    The Germans captured Hill 60 from the French forces in December 1914.

    When the British relieved the French in the region following the race to the sea it was determined that it must be retaken at all costs. A great deal of the fighting around Hill 60 was underground and it is believed that the first British mine of the war was detonated underneath Hill 60; and Hill 60 was primed with two mines along with 17 others to signal the start of the Messines battle on 7 June 1917.

    Hill 60 is a man made mound from the spoil of the railway which runs through the "hill".

    After the war Hill 60 was acquired by the Queen Victoria's Rifles and the area fenced in.

    Even today the hill is a mass of hillocks and small craters. Hill 60 was the subject of many post-war pilgrimages by returning veterans.

    Today the area is owned by the CWGC and is little changed since 1918. A plaque at the site is inscribed with details of Hill 60's chequered history.

    It records that it was taken from the French by the German forces on 10 December 1914, recaptured by the British on 17 April 1915, retaken by the Germans on 5 May 1916, ceded back to the British on 7 June 1917 (the first day of the Messines offensive), taken once again by the Germans in April 1918 (during the great Spring push) and its final capture by the British on 28 September 1918.



    This is the memorial to the QVR.







    This shows the area, and the amount of destruction and movement that has been through the earth. This was flat 100 years ago!



    Hill 60 is the site of one of the most incredible combat stories of the Great War, Geoffrey Harold Woolley.

    A VC winner, he basically single handedly held an entire company by being an excellent cricket player. His aim with a Mills Bomb was so good he managed to throw an estimated 300 bombs at the German trenches which were less than 20 yards away.

    The Queen Victoria's Rifles were posted to the Ypres Salient. On 17 April 1915, the British Army captured Hill 60, a low rise to the south-east of Ypres. In the midst of fierce German efforts to retake the hill, Second Lieutenant Woolley's company were sent up on the afternoon of 20 April to take ammunition supplies to the defenders. The situation quickly deteriorated, with many men and all the other officers on the hill being killed. Woolley refused verbal and written orders to withdraw, saying he and his company would remain until properly relieved. They repelled numerous attacks through the night. When they were relieved the next morning, he returned with 14 men remaining from the 150-strong company. The citation for the Victoria Cross he was awarded for this action reads;

    “For most conspicuous bravery on "Hill 60" during the night of 20th–21st April, 1915. Although the only officer on the hill at the time, and with very few men, he successfully resisted all attacks on his trench, and continued throwing bombs and encouraging his men until relieved. His trench during all this time was being heavily shelled and bombed and was subjected to heavy machine gun fire by the enemy.”.
    There are accounts of him having his men load a stream of rifles so he could run from his parapet, unload his clip and then discard the rifle back to his men, catch a loaded rifle and go back for more. I guess he was a Holywood hero before it was cool!

    This picture shows the area which would have been occupied by the QVR and G Woolley.





    The german trenches were located in the row of trees in the foreground.

    There are remnants of blockhouses/strongholds on the site which are fascinating to imagine in action.









    An interesting story of Hill 60; the Germans had stored all of their gas shells here ready for their first mustard gas attack on the Messines ridge. Hence the importance of holding Hill 60 to the Germans.

    During the second world war this monument was partially torn down by the passing German forces who came across it, because it basically said "This is where the QVR stopped those dastardly Germans and captured their Gas supplies!"



    Bullet holes and damage still in tact



    This shows the distance between the German and English trenches.



    Hill 60 Cafe, a good place for a brew





    More to come...
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    Bloody hell jardo, you done very well mate.
    That's stunning.

    If you ever want to explore any of the war stiff we got around Plymouth pet me know and I'll put you in contact with some guys.
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    Here's an interesting one, and certainly a site to look out for in the future. The Passchendaele Memorial Park.

    Currently in progress, this chateaux was totally flattened during the war. And has since been rebuilt in exactly the same fashion and is now the site of a memorial garden, museum and library and information centre.



    From the back -



    The library -



    The front -



    There are MANY exhibits in this museum, and their collection on gas weaponry is astounding. What I enjoyed about this collection is that it is very much biased on the French and Belgian forces, which are more often than not forgotten.

    A few displays from the collection -





















    The museum has a unique feature; a dugout experience!





    The memorial gardens are stunning -



    Next up is the big one...Tyne Cot.
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    This is wonderful. It brings back many memories of trips I did to Northern France with my dad in the 1970s. My dad was hugely interested in the Great War. His father and uncle had fought in it, and the uncle had died of his injuries. We would base ourselves in Albert and explore as many of the cemeteries and memorial parks as we could.
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    The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Broadly speaking, the Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south, but it varied in area and shape throughout the war.

    The Salient was formed during the First Battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing the German forces back to the Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres began in April 1915 when the Germans released poison gas into the Allied lines north of Ypres. This was the first time gas had been used by either side and the violence of the attack forced an Allied withdrawal and a shortening of the line of defence.

    There was little more significant activity on this front until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success, but the main assault north-eastward, which began at the end of July, quickly became a dogged struggle against determined opposition and the rapidly deteriorating weather. The campaign finally came to a close in November with the capture of Passchendaele.

    The German offensive of March 1918 met with some initial success, but was eventually checked and repulsed in a combined effort by the Allies in September.

    The battles of the Ypres Salient claimed many lives on both sides and it quickly became clear that the commemoration of members of the Commonwealth forces with no known grave would have to be divided between several different sites.

    The site of the Menin Gate was chosen because of the hundreds of thousands of men who passed through it on their way to the battlefields. It commemorates those of all Commonwealth nations, except New Zealand, who died in the Salient, in the case of United Kingdom casualties before 16 August 1917 (with some exceptions). Those United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. Other New Zealand casualties are commemorated on memorials at Buttes New British Cemetery and Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

    The TYNE COT MEMORIAL now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and F.V. Blundstone, was unveiled by Sir Gilbert Dyett on 20 June 1927.

    The memorial forms the north-eastern boundary of TYNE COT CEMETERY, which was established around a captured German blockhouse or pill-box used as an advanced dressing station. The original battlefield cemetery of 343 graves was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when remains were brought in from the battlefields of Passchendaele and Langemarck, and from a few small burial grounds. It is now the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world in terms of burials. At the suggestion of King George V, who visited the cemetery in 1922, the Cross of Sacrifice was placed on the original large pill-box. There are three other pill-boxes in the cemetery.

    There are now 11,956 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Tyne Cot Cemetery, 8,369 of these are unidentified.

    Tyne Cot is BIG!

    In recent years Tyne Cot has had a visitor centre opened, which gives a much more personal feel to the area. And reminds you that it was a heavily fought over battle ground; not just a burial site.



    This is the area which was being fought over -







    And a representation of the way it looked -



    These letters are an unsetting read -



    Inside the newly opened centre -









    The exterior of the new centre -



    Inside Tyne Cot is an eye opening and very humbling experience. This experience is a small corner of the site -



    Rows, upon rows, upon rows of fallen soldiers. Many of which are unknown.



    Tyne Cot entrance gate -









    For me this is something we need to be proud of; an unknown soldiers grave. Meticulously maintained. The red cross depicts that this stone is to be renewed. The Commonwealth Graves Comission is set to replace every possible head stone this year.



    As is traditional when visiting a Jewish grave, a stone is placed upon the headstone.



    The memorial -



    One quater of the site -





    A small section of the rear of the site -



    Tyne Cot is also a memorial to the missing, and the site of a large exhumed mass grave.



    Each panel on the exterior walls is a list of soldiers names. All missing.





    This shows the new marbled finish stones which are to be replacing the traditional Limestone graves.



    German graves also have a home within Tyne Cot.



    To be continued...I'm reaching the maximum photo limit.
    Last edited by 16Klappe; 15th May 2013 at 21:40.
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    This area is the exhumed burial site of Tyne Cot -



    As with most Common Wealth cemeteries the names are carved into the exterior walls.



    Tyne Cot is so large it has four seperate burial register safes.



    The entire west face of the site is built up of memorial plaques to the missing.





    Our group at the blockhouse memorial in Tyne Cot -



    And a final panorama of the front and rear of Tyne Cot, and the memorial to the missing.







    -

    After Tyne Cot we went back to Ypres for lunch, and then visited the "In Flanders" museum within the Cloth Hall. However photography is forbidden here. But it is a very extensive collection, however if I am honest it is poorly laid out. The movement through the site isn't very fluid, and I found myself flitting backward and forward.
    -

    After Flanders museum we were ready to head home, but on route we stopped at Hooge Crater.

    Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting throughout the First World War. On 31 October 1914, the staff of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were wiped out when the chateau was shelled; from 24 May to 3 June 1915, the chateau was defended against German attacks and in July 1915, the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division. On 30 July, the Germans took the chateau, and on 9 August, it and the crater were regained by the 6th Division. The Germans retook Hooge on 6 June 1916 and on 31 July 1917, the 8th Division advanced 1.6 Kms beyond it. It was lost for the last time in April 1918, but regained by the 9th (Scottish) and 29th Divisions on 28 September.

    Hooge Crater Cemetery was begun by the 7th Division Burial Officer early in October 1917. It contained originally 76 graves, in Rows A to D of Plot I, but was greatly increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of Zillebeke, Zantvoorde and Gheluvelt.



    Which has an almighty collection of privately owned, and independently sourced items. The overspill of which litters the cafe and museum entrance.





    Here I drank beer, and got myself ready for the trip home.
    sidibear likes this.
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    On the way home we stopped at Hyde Park Corner near Plug Street. For me this was the best experience of the trip; as I laid a wreath here with a memorial candle when I was 15 and came with my father many years ago. I visited this site at night, so it was amazing to come back in day light and revisit.

    Hyde Park Corner was a road junction to the north of Ploegsteert Wood. Hill 63 was to the north-west and nearby were the 'Catacombs', deep shelters capable of holding two battalions, which were used from November 1916 onwards.

    Hyde Park Cemetery was begun in April 1915 by the 1st/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment and was used at intervals until November 1917. The cemetery contains 83 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and four German war graves.

    The Berks Cemetry Extension is separated from Hyde Park Corner Cemetery by a road. The extension was begun in June 1916 and used continuously until September 1917. At the Armistice, the extension comprised Plot I only, but Plots II and III were added in 1930 when graves were brought in from Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery and Extension, about 1 kilometre to the north-west, when it was established that these sites could not be acquired in perpetuity. Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery was used by fighting units from November 1914 to August 1916. The extension was begun in May 1916 and used until March 1918. Together, the cemetery and extension were sometimes referred to as 'Red Lodge'.

    Berks Cemetery Extension now contains 876 First World War burials.

    Within Berks Cemetery Extension stands the Plugstreet Memorial, commemorating more than 11,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood.

    Sorry for the shocking pictures, by this point my camera card was full and I was using my phone.







    -

    And that was it! My time in Belgium.

    I hope you guys enjoyed the read, I appreciate it's quite the essay but it has kept me occupied for the last hour or so!

    If anybody is visiting or planning a trip then please do feel free to use my little guide, it's perfect for a cheeky two or three day visit. Personally I would have liked to have encorperatd Thiepval as well as the Ulster memorial, but my group was more interested in me showing them new sites rather than sites we visited last year.

    If anybody wants further information please do drop me a PM, I'm more than happy to help with directions, timings and information. If anybody is popping across and fancies a guide to bring the sites to life, then I'm your man

    Thanks.
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    Outstanding.
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    jardo, what a fantastic write up, so very informative. Thank you very much for sharing it with us. x
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    Nice to see young ones appreciate stuff like this...
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    respect.

    with someone so young it must be very rare to have such an interest.
    obviously its brilliant that you do, and that these places are never forgotten. But why and what gave you such an interest?? History in school couldnt have been that good surely!?
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    Good stuff Jardo!
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    History in school literally was that good, that's where my interest came from.

    We had a very enthusiastic history teacher who had a military background, the school had a large collection of first and second world war items and we used to take them to other schools and give talks on the wars to other kids. We had a de-activated Vickers gun and two Lee Enfield rifles in the class room, it was pretty cool. I was the keenest student so did all of the work with this, then the school setup a strip across to Belgium for 5/6 kids and although I didn't know who it was Andy Robertshaw (curator of the Imperial War Museum, always on documentaries on the TV) came across with us and have a 7 day tour of all the sites. I did that two years in a row at school, then I left.

    I'm going across to do the WW2 sites in October with the woman, the main site we're going to is Nordhausen to see the V2 development and launch sites.

    Another plus point of this hobby is that in terms of costs it is very cheap; my entire trip cost less than E250. It's something you can learn for free and there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be found on the internet.

    Glad you guys like it.

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    Brilliant Jardo is all I can say mate. I did many of these trips when I was in the RAF and to say its a humbling experience is an understatement.
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    Absolutely fantastic. Brilliant write up and photos.

    Tracey's great uncle died in WW1 at Bellecourt / Poncheux, so we took a trip a few years ago to visit him. As we entered the cemetery the farmer ploughing the field next to it stopped his tractor, got out, nodded to us and walked off, only returning as we left to continue his work. Cars that passed the cemetery slowed down. Say what you like about the French but they know how to respect those that fought and died for them.

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    Wow

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    Fantastic photos and write up.

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    Great thread. Loads of great pics and info. Would love to do a trip like that with my boys once they are old enough to understand the sacrifice that was made by the millions.
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