School trip


The Cloth Hall
 The Ypres Cloth Hall was, as a guidebook at the time described it, "one of the mediaeval gems of Europe" prior to 1914. It was the centre of the European cloth trade which made Ypres wealthy enough to fund its own Vauban-designed defences during the long periods of conflict that followed. By 1914 Ypres was a city in decline in a quiet backwater. During the Great War the Cloth Hall came under fire during the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914 and then caught fire the same November. By 1918 it was reduced to rubble as every shell from 77m up to 420mm naval shells fell on it at some point. Ypres was gradually rebuilt using the original medieval plans, but it took time – the Cloth Hall was not finished until the early 1960s. Today it houses the council offices and the In Flanders Fields Museum.

Panoramic image of Ypres from 1919, showing the town's destruction.
Hitler visiting the town in 1940

St. Martin's Cathedral
Saint Martin's Cathedral (although no longer technically a cathedral, it is still often referred to as one) is, at 335 ft in height, one of the tallest buildings in Belgium. Construction started on in 1230, and was finished in 1370. It was heavily damaged during the Great War and was rebuilt afterwards, following the original plans.
Ypres Cloth Hall and Cathedral in 1918
Ypres was damaged by the Germans in the Second World War as well. Here is the Hotel t’Zweerd as photographed by A German soldier in May 1940, and the same site today.
 At No. 54 Rue de Dixmude is the façade of the Maison Biebuygk. Built in 1544, this house was one of the most remarkable in Ypres. Immediately below the gable were two carved medallions representing the sun and the moon. The great pointed arch which framed the gable windows gave exceptional grace to the façade; it has since been reconstructed.

The Menin Gate
"Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?"
-- Siegfried Sassoon, On Passing the Menin Gate

The site of the Menin Gate after the war.

The building of the Gate and ten years after the Armistice
The Menin Gate Memorial, completed in 1927, lists the names of 54,332 men of Britain and the Dominions (apart from New Zealand and Newfoundland which chose to have their own separate memorials) up until 16th August 1917 after which the other names are recorded at Tyne Cot. The inscription inside the archway is similar to the one at Tyne Cot, with the addition of a prefatory Latin phrase: "Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam - Here are recorded names of officers and men who fell in Ypres Salient, but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death". All the inscriptions were composed by Rudyard Kipling. There are also Latin inscriptions set in circular panels either side of the archway: "Pro Patria" and "Pro Rege". A French inscription translated states: "Erected by the nations of the British Empire in honour of their dead this monument is offered to the citizens of Ypres for the ornament of their city and in commemoration of the days where the British Army defended it against the invader."

Every evening at 20.00 the Last Post is played at the Menin Gate, with a local policeman on call to stop traffic. Buglers from the local fire brigade play ”The Last Post”. The ceremony was begun in 1928 and the buglers have performed it faithfully ever since, although were banned from playing during the German Occupation of 1940-44. The tradition was immediately re-established on the first day after the liberation in September 1944. Sometimes the ceremony is attended by just a few spectators; on more formal occasions, hundreds can be present. During the ceremony a verse from the poem ’For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon is usually read out loud:
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and the morning We will remember them
Belgian firemen preparing to perform the Last Post. Following the Menin Gate Memorial opening in 1927, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium's freedom. On the evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second World War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town. The names are inscribed on panels arranged by Regiment, and within that by rank.
The Gate in 1940 under German occupation

Hitler returned to Ypres twice in 1940
Continuing from the Menin Gate is the Menin Road South CWGC
This cemetery is on the infamous Menin Road (N345) running from Ypres to the front line and remained an Allied possession throughout the war. It was founded in January 1916 and used until the summer of 1918. After the Armistice, the neighbouring Menin Road North cemetery was concentrated into this cemetery, with additional concentration from single battlefield graves from the front itself. 1658 lie here with 119 unidentified.
A particularly interesting inscription is for that of 22 year old Lt. Charles Douglas Lucas Hill of the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regt, killed February 14, 1916:
"He passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty."
Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson, VC, was killed in action on July 31, 1917 after having encountered the enemy with a sergeant and five men only. Nevertheless he carried out the planned attack and managed to capture the enemy trench. When the Germans counter-attacked, he resisted with only an orderly beside him and captured a German machine-gun, which he then directed against the attackers. Later still, aided only by his sergeant, he again attacked and captured a second enemy machine-gun, only to be killed by a sniper.

Ypres Town CWGC
His Majesty King George V paying his respects in 1922 and today.

This cemetery is about an half-mile north-east of the Menin Gate where some six hundred lie here, some two to a grave. The main cemetery and its extension were in use until 1915 and then used again in 1918. The extension was expanded by the concentration of graves from nearby small cemeteries and battlefield burials.  The cemetery and extension were brought into use again in 1940, to receive the dead of Commonwealth forces retreating from the area as it fell to the forces of Nazi Germany.
Among them once was Prince Maurice of Battenberg, a grandson of Queen Victoria. Although the body now lies elsewhere, his grave remains where H.M. George V paid tribute. The Battenbergs were hereditary enemies of the Hohenzollerns and had been treated by Bismarck and William II with peculiar insolence. Prince Maurice was the grandson of Queen Victoria and the brother of the Queen of Spain.

Ypres Reservoir CWGC
Today and as it looked after the Armistice. It was originally one of three cemeteries in the immediate area. There are 2,613 soldiers of the Commonwealth either buried or commemorated here, among whom are three men who had been executed by the military authorities - Privates Moles, Lawrence and McColl, "shot at dawn" for cowardice when they could have simply been suffering from shell shock.
 The graves of Canadians Butler and Dickens then and now
The graves of brothers Major John Leadbitter Knott and Captain Henry Basil Knott, sons of Sir James Knott who owned the Prince line, among the largest shipping lines in the world at the time. The former was killed at the opening day of the Somme and, when unable to repatriate the bodies, the father managed to have both brothers buried side-by-side. After their death, he sold the Prince line and created a trust for charity work whilst also commemorated his sons through his provision of the bell tower at the Church of St George in Ypres.
The grave of Brigadier General Francis Aylmer Maxwell, who earned the Victoria Cross in South Africa when he was a 28 year old Lieutenant in the Indian Staff Corps attached to Roberts's Light Horse during the Second Boer War.
On 31 March 1900 at Sanna's Post (aka Korn Spruit), South Africa, Lieutenant Maxwell carried out the self-imposed duty of saving the guns from capture by the enemy. He went out on five different occasions and helped to bring in two guns and three limbers, one of which he, another officer and some gunners dragged in by hand. He also went out with two other officers and tried to get the last gun in and remained there until the attempt had to be abandoned. During a previous campaign in British India, (the Chitral Expedition, 1895) he had removed the body of a lieutenant colonel of the Corps of Guides, under fire.
He was eventually shot by a German sniper here in Ypres on September 21, 1917 whilst commanding the 27th Brigade, 9th (Scottish) Division.

Ramparts Cemetery (Lille Gate) CWGC
This small cemetery is the only CWGC burial ground within the ancient walls of Ypres. The cemetery was begun in November 1914 by French troops defending the city and was used by Commonwealth troops from February 1915 until April 1918, by which time the Western Front had moved away from Ypres. At the end of the war, the French graves were removed and concentrated in the nearby Ypres Necropole National French cemetery. The cemetery contains the graves of 198 soldiers. Amongst these are the graves of six Australian troops killed simultaneously by the same shell. These graves are symbolically grouped together.  Rose Coombs, who did much to popularise Ypres and the Salient for tourists and pilgrims through her book Before Endeavours Fade which was used extensively for this school guide, had her ashes scattered in this cemetery in 1991.
 Australian troops in the dugouts at the site, probably between August and November 1917 during the ‘Third Battle of Ypres.’

Lille Gate
One of the mediaeval gateways into the walled town, it was constantly under enemy fire and badly damaged but strong enough to be used as HQ during the Great War. There are some original Imperial War Graves Commission direction signs on plaques in the road tunnel.
Whilst the Menin Gate was by far the best known exit from the centre of Ypres during the war, arguably the most used was in fact the Lille Gate, pictured here in a British stereo image in 1919.  During the Great War the Ramparts close by were used as headquarters – at one stage for Tunnelling units – and there was also medical facilities and a cemetery grew up on the Ramparts itself – one of several on the city walls. After the Second Battle of Ypres in May 1915 the Menin Gate was in direct observation from the high ground around Ypres and so the Lille Gate became the main route to get to the front line for troops passing through Ypres.

Bedford House CWGC
Less than two miles south of the Ypres Lille Gate, this is one of the largest cemeteries in the Salient.
The cemetery shortly after the war, giving some indication of its deceptive enormity.
Chateau Rosendal, aka Woodcote House, aka Bedford House, before the war, as depicted in a 1917 sketch, and remains from its ruins within the cemetery itself.
 Enclosure no. 2 then and now from the same site. It had started as a burial ground in December 1915 and used throughout the war until October 1918. After the Armistice a further 400 graves were moved into this Enclosure from two British military cemeteries close to the Ypres town centre, the École de Bienfaissance Cemetery and the Asylum Cemetery.
A generation later a new inscription had to be added to mark those dead from another world war, all of them soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force, who died in the defence of the Ypres-Comines canal and railway at the end of May 1940. Altogether 5,139 soldiers either lie buried or commemorated here, over 3,000 of which remain unidentified.

During the First World War the chateau was used by local British Field Ambulances and Dressing Stations.  At an early stage burials were effected in the grounds.  In January 1917 the chateau was adopted by 55 Brigade as its headquarters until it was severely damaged by German 8-inch shells (with 500 gas shells falling in one day during the Third Battle of Ypres). It was used by field ambulances and as the headquarters of brigades and other fighting units, and charcoal pits were dug there from October 1917.  In time, the property became largely covered by small cemeteries

Inscribed on the grave of M.H. Ride, died at age 19, September 30, 1915 of the King's Royal Rifle Corps: 'DAD'S BEST PAL'
The entrance with its gates and driveway lined with conifers was in fact for the original 'Bedford House' - the name given by the British to the existing Chateau Rosendal that stood here. Throughout one sees the remains of the building scattered around the site.
 The grave of Rupert Price Hallowes VC MC  of the 4th Bn Middlesex Regiment. During the fighting at Hooge in the Ypres Salient, Belgium, between the dates of September 25 to 30, 1915, 
2nd Lieutenant Hallowes set a magnificent example to his men under heavy and prolonged bombardments. On more than one occasion he climbed up on the parapet, utterly regardless of danger, in order to put fresh heart into his men. He made daring reconnaissance's of the German positions in our lines. When the supply of bombs was running short he went back under very heavy shell fire and brought up a fresh supply. Even after he was mortally wounded he continued to cheer those around him and to inspire them with fresh courage. 
He later died of his wounds and for most conspicuous bravery was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on November 16, 1915.

St. Eloi
 Distant view of St. Eloi Ridge and Craters, and a photograph of the Crater on the Bluff looking towards St. Eloi from July, 1916.
At a crossroads on the N365 is a Belgian Krupp 95 mm gun and Union flag commemorating the underground mine warfare that took place here at St. Eloi. The site of many bloody encounters, this marks the spot where the Germans fired their first mine in March 1915 to counter-attack British attacks on this position. At the start of the June 7, 1917 attack on Messines Ridge, the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company detonated the largest single charge containing 95, 600 pounds of ammonal. This led to the capture of St Eloi by the British 41st Division.
Trenches: St Eloi
Over the flat slope of St. Eloi
A wide wall of sand bags.
In the silence desultory men
Pottering over small fires, cleaning their mess-tins:
To and fro, from the lines,
Men walk as on Piccadilly,
Making paths in the dark,
Through scattered dead horses,
Over a dead Belgian's belly.

The German have rockets. The English have no rockets.
Behind the line, cannon, hidden, lying back miles.
Before the line, chaos:

My mind is a corridor. The minds about me are corridors.
Nothing suggests itself. There is nothing to do but keep on.

T. E. Hulme
The Tunnellers Memorial at the site shown right honours the British, Canadian and Belgian sappers who dug the explosive mines detonated under enemy lines on March 27, 1916. Tunnellers were not infantrymen but their work was dangerous, harrowing and definitely not for claustrophobes. Sebastian Faulk's war novel Birdsong (in Mr. Heath's classroom) includes extended sections conveying all too well how appalling the work of tunnellers could be.

Blauwepoort Farm CWGC
Immediately after the war and today.
Sited in Zillebeke some 3 kilometres south-east of Ypres, Blauwepoort Farm Cemetery is situated in the grounds of the farm bearing the same name.  The cemetery was started by a French battalion of Chasseurs Alpins in November 1914 for use during the First Battle of Ypres.  It was subsequently used by British forces from February the following year until February 1916 and contains 90 burials.

Railway Dugouts CWGC
The cemetery just after the war and a near-approximation of the same area.
The name derives from the dugouts located in the railway embankment that was located here during the war. Siting dugouts on the side away from the Germans protected them from artillery fire. The railway still passes today, and trains can be seen rushing past the cemetery from time to time. 
One poignant inscription for Pte. Merchant of 58th Bn., Canadian Inf. who died aged only 16 years on June 6, 1916 reads:
There are just under 2,500 buried here, with 400 brought in after the Armistice who had survived long enough to be sent or brought back from the front line, but eventually succumbed to their wounds at the Advanced Dressing Station.
 Among the graves is that of Frederick Youens VC who was twenty three years old, and a temporary second lieutenant in the 13th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
On 7 July 1917 near Hill 60, Belgium, it was reported that the enemy were preparing to raid the British trenches and Second Lieutenant Youens, who had already been wounded, immediately set out to rally a Lewis gun team which had become disorganised. While doing this an enemy bomb fell on the Lewis gun position without exploding. The second lieutenant picked it up and hurled it over the parapet, but soon after another bomb fell near the same place and again he picked it up, but it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and some of his men. The officer later succumbed to his wounds.
Youens had been training to become a teacher before the outbreak of the war and had been granted a scholarship to Oxford University.
War debris Mr. Heath came across nearby.
Southeast of Ypres
Larch Wood Railway Cutting CWGC
The cemetery was founded by Commonwealth troops in April 1915 and remained in use until April 1918, when the Western Front had moved away from the area. Most of the dead are from the defence of the nearby Hill 60. After the Armistice, the cemetery was enlarged with the concentration of graves from the battlefield, smaller cemeteries in the area and Commonwealth troops buried in from German war cemeteries.
The graves of 86 people are defined as "special memorials" in that they are either recorded as being buried here but the CWGC was unable to find proof (headstones marked "Believed to be buried in this cemetery") or they are known to be buried here but their exact location was lost or destroyed by later fighting (headstones marked "Known to be buried in this cemetery"). These graves all carry (unless replaced by a personalised family message) the inscription at the foot of the stone "Their Glory Shall Not Be Blotted Out" - a line from Sirach 44:13 suggested by Rudyard Kipling as seen in the last photograph here.

Southwest of Ypres

Reninghelst during the war.
The church, St. Vedastuskerk, taken from 3rd Cdn. Div. H.Q. and today

Reninghelst  New Military Cemetery
The village of Reninghelst was occupied by Imperial forces from the late autumn of 1914 to the end of the war and was sufficiently far from the front line to provide a suitable station for field ambulances. The earliest burials took place in the Churchyard but, in November 1915, the New Military Cemetery was opened. It remained in use until September 1918. 798 lie buried here.
An example of a grave immediately after the war and today, standardised. This is of Canadian Lieutenant Arnold Thurston.
Three examples of soldiers 'shot at dawn'-  Rifleman Barker, shot for for cowardice November 4, 1916, Private Loader, executed for desertion August 19 1917, and Private Smith, executed for desertion November 11, 1917

La Clytte Military Cemetery 
Located about five miles southwest of Ypres, 1082 lie here.
John Lynn, VC, DCM
On 2 May 1915 near Ypres, Belgium, when the Germans were advancing behind their wave of asphyxiating gas, Private Lynn, although almost overcome by the deadly fumes, handled his machine-gun with great effect against the enemy, and when he could not see them, he moved his gun higher up the parapet so that he could fire more effectively. This eventually checked any further advance and the outstanding courage displayed by this soldier had a great effect upon his comrades in the very trying circumstances. Private Lynn died later from the effects of gas poisoning.
Lynn was recipient of the Cross of the Order of St. George, 4th Class, from Russia.

West of Ypres
Railway Chateau CWGC
This small cemetery of roughly an hundred graves less than a mile west of Ypres was originally known as Augustine Street Cabaret Cemetery when it was begun in November 1914 as well as L.4 Post Cemetery. 105 lie buried here. Some graves have two to a plot.

Belgian Battery Corner CWGC
A couple of miles south of Ypres at a road junction where three batteries of Belgian artillery were positioned in 1915 lies 573 casualties. The cemetery was begun by the 8th Division in June 1917 after the Battle of Messines (although one grave in Plot III, Row A, predates this) and it was used until October 1918, largely for burials from a dressing station in a cottage near by. Almost half of the graves are of casualties who belonged, or were attached, to artillery units. Seven of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate three casualties known to have been buried in the cemetery, but whose graves could not be located. Among the poignant inscriptions is this for Private Frederick Charles Nutkins, 6th Battn. Machine Gun Corps, Infantry:
A brave boy
and a good son.
Sadly missed,
remembered by all.

La Brique CWGC
This cemetery, named after a now-lost brickworks near to the site, is divided in two by the main road. Cemetery No 1 was founded in May 1915 and used until December 1915. It is the smaller of the two. Cemetery No 2 was founded in February 1915 and was used until March 1918. Originally containing 383 graves, the cemetery was expanded by concentration of graves from the battlefield after the Armistice. It now contains 840 graves.

White House CWGC
Between the wars, before the wooden crosses were replaced and the stones standardised.
The cemetery was founded in March 1915 and remained in use until April 1918. It was on the site of forward dressing stations found within cellars in 1915; the village it is within, Bellewaerdebeek, was utterly destroyed in 1917. After the Armistice the cemetery was enlarged by concentrating graves from eight outlying cemeteries.
Among the inscriptions here, a striking one is for Sergeant Kenneth W Vear of the 37th bn Australian Infantry who died October 3, 1917:
Good Old Ken
A Man's Man.
Robert Morrow VC. At the age of 23 whilst serving as a private in the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, on April 12 1915, he rescued and carried to places of comparative safety several men who had been buried in the debris of trenches wrecked by shell fire. He carried out this work on his own initiative and under heavy fire from the enemy. His citation reads:
For most conspicuous bravery near Messines on 12th April, 1915, when he rescued and carried successively to places of comparative safety, several men who had been buried in the debris of trenches wrecked by shell fire. Private Morrow carried out this gallant work on his own initiative and under very heavy fire from the enemy.
Within a fortnight he would be killed in action.
1,163 soldiers of the Great War lie buried here including four men executed by the Commonwealth military authorities. Private HH Chase of the Lancashire Fusiliers was executed for supposed cowardice on June 12, 1915. On November 7, 2006, the British government announced a pardon for all soldiers executed in the Great War.

Essex Farm CWGC
One of the best known sites in the Ypres Salient is Essex Farm Cemetery and A.D.S. (Advanced Dressing Station), where John McCrae wrote his world-famous poem In Flanders Fields at the beginning of May 1915.
In addition to the cemetery and the adjacent concrete shelters of the old dressing station, the bank of the canal has also recently been opened to the public over a distance of 450 metres. It was here that the guns of the 1st Canadian Artillery Brigade stood in April 1915 and it was on this spot shortly afterwards that the Royal Engineers built a number of shelters and dugouts for the protection of the troops in the high canal bank. This bank had originally been dug in the 17th century by the French military architect Vauban as a ’retranchement,’ a large fortification alongside the canal, which for more than 50 years constituted the northern border of Louis XIV’s French empire. Shortly after the 1918 armistice, the numerous bunkers in the bank also served as temporary accommodation for many of the refugees returning home.
High on the canal bank stands a monument to the 49th West Riding Division, which was first deployed here in the summer of 1915 and suffered heavy losses.
Although only nine of the 1199 buried here are from the country, Canada has its current flag fly over the all the dead.

Among the dead lies the body of Private Thomas Barratt, VC. 
His citation from The London Gazette, dated 4th September 1917:
On 27 July 1917 north of Ypres, Belgium: For most conspicuous bravery when as Scout to a patrol he worked his way towards the enemy line with the greatest gallantry and determination, in spite of continuous fire from hostile snipers at close range. These snipers he stalked and killed. Later his patrol was similarly held up, and again he disposed of the snipers. When during the subsequent withdrawal of the patrol it was observed that a party of the enemy were endeavouring to outflank them, Private Barratt at once volunteered to cover the retirement, and this he succeeded in accomplishing. His accurate shooting caused many casualties to the enemy, and prevented their advance. Throughout the enterprise he was under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, and his splendid example of coolness and daring was beyond all praise. After safely regaining our lines this gallant soldier was killed by a shell.
Private Valentine Joe Strudwick, only 15 at the time of his death.
Just to the left of Essex Farm Cemetery is what had been the No. 4 Aid Station of Lt.-Col. Surgeon John McCrae where it is claimed that he wrote in May 1915 possibly the most famous war poem of the 20th century, In Flanders Fields.
This photo does not do justice to the claustrophobic atmosphere that must have prevailed whilst medical personnel had to undergo non-stop surgery during barrages and shelling.
This monument to John McCrae was unveiled in October 2005 next to the first-aid station. The poem is inscribed on a bronze plaque with, I noted, incorrect punctuation that did not match with what McCrae himself used (his handwritten copy of which is also inscribed for good measure).
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Continuing North along the the N369, are these two CWGCs:
Bard Cottage CWGC
Continuing from Essex Farm to Boezinge is Bard Cottage cemetery. The original Bard Cottage was the name given to a house behind the line and near a bridge dubbed Bard's Causeway; this cemetery was made nearby in a sheltered position under a high bank. The graves date between June 1915 and October 1918, reflecting the presence of the 49th (West Riding), the 38th (Welsh) and other infantry divisions in the northern sectors of the Ypres Salient, as well as the advance of artillery to the area in the autumn of 1917.

Talana Farm CWGC

This site was roughly a mile from the edge of the Salient during the war and today has 529 Commonwealth burials.

Duhallow A.D.S. CWGC
 Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station is thought to have received its name from a southern Irish hunt. The cemetery contains many graves of the artillery and engineers and 41 men of the 13th Company Labour Corps, killed when a German aircraft dropped a bomb on an ammunition truck in January 1918.
The special memorials shown in the two photos above commemorate a number of casualties known to have been buried in two of these cemeteries, Malakoff Farm Cemetery, Brielen, and Fusilier Wood Cemetery, Hollebeke, whose graves were destroyed by shellfire. There are now 1,544 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery, 231 of the burials unidentified. There are also 57 war graves of other nationalities, mostly German, and one Commonwealth burial of the Second World War, which dates from the Allied withdrawal ahead of the German advance of May 1940.

Langemark and NW of Ypres
Langemark German Military Cemetery

The total number of soldiers buried or commemorated in this cemetery is 44,234, situated north of Langemark village, about 6 kilometres north-east of Ypres. The cemetery started as a small group of graves in 1915 and was officially inaugurated on 10 July 1932. Roughly 3,000 graves are of the Student Volunteers who died in the battle of Langemark in October and November 1914 leading the cemetery to be dubbed Der Studentenfriedhof- the Student Cemetery.
Belgians hardly wanted Germans, dead or alive, on their land forcing Germany to economise. Here eight bodies lie under one stone.

The so-called Kameraden Grab ( 'Comrades Grave') where the remains of 24,917 unidentified German soldiers are interred.

Bronze statue of four mourning soldiers, by the Munich sculptor Professor Emil Krieger. Apparently it "was inspired by a photograph taken of soldiers from the Reserve Infantry Regiment 238, mourning at the grave of a comrade in 1918" shown on the right. The second soldier from the right was killed two days after the photograph was taken.

Holding a picture of Hitler and assembled Nazis standing in the same spot.

Memorial to the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers of the 34th Division
The bunker behind the German cemetery was captured in September 1918 and was used as an Advanced Dressing Station. The man put in charge was Lawrence of Arabia's brother. Apparently more men died of drowning than through artillery.
War debris found nearby.

When farmers find artillery they place it on the side of the road (or in this case, within an electricity pole) and alert the military who then collect it and eventually gather them together to detonate.

20th Light Division Memorial

Between the wars and today, now surrounded by suburbia
This memorial, commemorating the 60th and 61st Brigades of the 20th Division which engaged the Germans on August 16, 1917 is found in Langemark village. During this action, Private Wilfred Edwards and Sergeant Edward Cooper won Victoria Crosses.

Cement House CWGC
"Cement House" was the name given by the Army to a fortified farm building on the Langemark-Boezinge road. The original Cement House Cemetery was begun here at the end of August 1917 and used by the 4th and 17th Division burial officers, by field ambulances and by units in the line until April 1918. In the years immediately following the Armistice, most plots were added when graves were brought in from the battlefields and small burial grounds around Langemark and Poelkapelle, mostly dating from the Autumn of 1917. The cemetery is still used for the burial of remains that continue to be discovered in the vicinity, and a number of plots have been extended to accommodate these graves. There are now 3,566 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 2,398 of the burials are unidentified. Of the 22 Second World War burials in the cemetery, five are unidentified.
Two particularly interesting graves. The one on the left is a very unusual stone which boasts a paragraph instead of the usual half-dozen lines. Especially unusual when one considers the cost at the time for each additional word inscribed; families were told that the maximum number of letters and letter spaces allowed was 66 and the charge was three and a half pence per letter. Most families paid the charge though there was much grumbling at the time that the soldiers had already paid it many times over with their blood. the charge appears not to have been enforced.
The grave on the right is possibly the only example where a man's final action is described on his gravestone.Captain Knowles- with a date of August 23, 1914 given for his death, he is one of the first British officers to die in the Great War.

New Burials at Cement House CWGC
Burial of three unknown soldiers, November 2005

Memorial to Georges Guynemer

Today and at its inauguration in 1923
This monument is in the centre of the village honouring Georges Guynemer, a French national hero during World War I, and top fighter ace at the time of his death on September 11, 1917. It was unveiled in July 1923 where British soldiers of the 53rd brigade of the 18th Division liberated. Apparently the stork on the monument, symbol of L’escadrille des Cicognes, is shown flying in the direction Guynemer took when he made his last flight. From German sources it was learned that Guynemer had been shot through the head and had fallen close to Poelcappelle, 800 yards from the cemetery where he was buried by his foes with military honours.

Poelkapelle CWGC
This cemetery is less than a mile west of the town and is the third-largest in the region. It was created after the Armistice with the concentration of graves from the surrounding battlefields. Most of those lying here date from the Third Battle of Ypres. To give an indication as to the ferocity of the battle, of the graves here 6,231 or 90% are unnamed.
Between the wars and today
Among the inscriptions is this for Lieutenant J. Lunan, Gordon Highlanders, killed September 20, 1917 at age 24:
"I Leave Myself In God's Hands
- Extract from his diary written 19.9.19"
Apparently the youngest casualty, at age 14. However, this appears to be an unrectified 90+ year old mistake as his birth certificate would make him to have been 19 and death certificate has him as 20.
The stone of 2nd Lieutenant H.G. Langton on the far left-side wall is unique:
It is inscribed with the notation for one of his own musical compositions.

Yorkshire Trench

Recently excavated between the summer of 1998 and April 2000 and filmed by the BBC TV for its "Meet the Ancestors" series in a March 2002 programme called "The Forgotten Battlefield", this was a British dugout from 1917. The restored trench itself is only 57metres, whereas the original trench was a system of many hundreds. And the site itself, approx. 1650 square metres, is only 1/150th part of the industrial estate itself. This restoration is a compromise (like filling sandbags with a mixture of sand and cement, whereas we all know that sandbags were filled with ... earth) between authenticity (how did it really look like), durability and solidity (how long is it supposed to last), looks (Great War trenches were an absolute mess), safety (parties of schoolchildren arriving), the financial aspect, etc. You can see a so-called loophole on the right.

These were used for poison gas.

Bleuet Farm CWGC
Named after a Dressing Station situated at the farm, the cemetery which can be found in a corner of the re-built farm was started in June 1917 and in use until December that year. After the armistice, two graves in isolated positions nearby were moved into the cemetery.
There are three who lie buried here after having been Shot at Dawn: Private T. Hawkins, 7th Royal West Surrey Regiment (Queen’s), who was executed for desertion on November 11 1917,
Private A. H. Westwood, East Surrey Regiment, executed for desertion the November 23 1917, and Rifleman F. N. Slade, executed December 14 1917 for "disobedience."
The one German grave buried beside the 442 of the British Empire.

Canada Farm CWGC
The cemetery takes its name from a farmhouse used as a dressing station during the 1917 Allied offensive in this area, and most of the burials are of men who died at the dressing station between June-October 1917.
Victoria Cross recipient Corporal James Llewellyn Davies of the 13th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers is buried here among 906 others.
For most conspicuous bravery during an attack on the enemy's line, this non-commissioned officer pushed through our own barrage and single-handed attacked a machine gun emplacement, after several men had been killed in attempting to take it. He bayoneted one of the machine gun crew and brought in another man, together with the captured gun. Cpl. Davies, although wounded, then led a bombing party to the assault of a defended house, and killed a sniper who was harassing his platoon. This gallant non-commissioned officer has since died of wounds received during the attack.
London Gazette No. 30272, 6 September 1917
 These three military cemeteries are all along the same small road which crosses what had been the battleline throughout the war.

Colne Valley CWGC
Hard to believe this idyllic spot was on the frontline, Colne Valley was the name given to a trench used by the 49th Division. This is the final resting place for 49 soldiers, six of whom remain unknown. On the stone for 2nd Lt Gibson is inscribed:
Devoted Son
Staunch lover True friend
Au Revoir

Welsh CWGC (Caesar's Nose)

59 are buried in this cemetery, which had directly faced German lines on July 31, 1917 at a point known as Caesar's Nose. There is a nearby sign showing photographs of how the point has changed over time. Of these, 23 are of the 38th (Welsh) Division...
...its soldiers' bodies are still being recovered...

Menen German Military Cemetery
The Menen German war cemetery is a military cemetery in the Belgian town of Menen territory and partly in Wevelgem. 47, 864 German soldiers lie within,  making it the largest in Flanders. In between are several crosses and oak and chestnut trees. In the centre is an octagonal memorial chapel.  The original cemetery was created in 1917. Between 1956-1958, there were 128 small German military cemeteries scattered across Flanders consolidated to four. The remains of the cemeteries were transferred to the cemeteries of Langemark, Vladslo, Hooglede and Menen. Menen casualties came from 53 small cemeteries. The German architect R. Tischler designed the octagonal mausoleum and a reception building. Around the chapel are eight tombstones, bearing the names and locations of the 53 cemeteries, from where the fallen were transferred. The grave stones were restored in 1991.
The room inside allows you to see the books that have details of the soldiers lying here.

Birr Cross Roads CWGC

Three km east of Ypres with the graves of five hundred soldiers.
Among them is that of Captain Ackroyd, VC, MC, whose citation (4th September 1917) reads:
For most conspicuous bravery. During recent operations Capt Ackroyd displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. Utterly regardless of danger, he worked continuously for many hours up and down and in front of the line tending the wounded and saving the lives of officers and men. In so doing he had to move across the open under heavy machine gun, rifle and shell fire. On another occasion he went some way in front of our advanced line and brought in a wounded man under continuous sniping and machine gun fire. His heroism was the means of saving many lives, and provided a magnificent example of courage, cheerfulness and determination to the fighting men in whose midst he was carrying out his splendid work. This gallant officer has since been killed in action.
In fact, he had already distinguished himself for bravery a year before before on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme at Montauban and also later at Delville Wood for which he was awarded the Military Cross.


German flamethrower used at Hooge, 30 July 1915, and the subsequent British charge at Hooge, recapturing trenches lost to flamethrowers

Hooge Crater CWGC

The site in 1919 and ninety years later.

You can see as you enter the cemetery the altar within its symbolic crater.
The cemetery is four km east of Ypres in a small village in Flanders that had been the site of a château used as the Divisional Headquarters for the area. The staff at the château, from the 1st and 2nd Divisions, were all killed when the château was shelled on 31 October 1914.

The crater the cemetery's name refers to was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division on July 30, 1915. The château and the crater (craters being strategically important in relatively flat countryside) were taken by the British 6th Division on 9 August. It was reclaimed by the Germans on 16 June 1916 and retaken by the British on 31 July 1917 when the 8th Division managed to push past it by about a mile. The Germans retook the site in April 1918 as part of the Spring Offensive but were expelled from the area by the British on 28 September as the Offensive faltered. During this time, the chateau was completely destroyed along with the entire village; several large craters from underground mines were blown over the course of the 1917 fighting. German forces attacked the château between 24 May and 3 June 1915, and, despite the detonation of a British mine by the 3rd Division, leaving a massive crater, took control of the château and the surrounding area on 30 July.
Among the dead is Private Patrick Bugden, awarded posthumously the VC for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when on two occasions our advance was temporarily held up by strongly defended "pill-boxes".
Pte. Bugden, in the face of devastating fire from machine guns, gallantly led small parties to attack these strong points and, successfully silencing the machine guns with bombs, captured the garrison at the point of the bayonet. On another occasion, when a Corporal, who had become detached from his company, had been captured and was being taken to the rear by the enemy, Pte. Bugden, single-handed, rushed to the rescue of his comrade, shot one enemy and bayoneted the remaining two, thus releasing the Corporal. On five occasions he rescued wounded men under intense shell and machine gun fire, showing an utter contempt and disregard for danger. Always foremost in volunteering for any dangerous mission, it was during the execution of one of these missions that this gallant soldier was killed.

Further east towards Menim is Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction was the name given to this site in the Ypres Salient due to the numerous roads meeting here. This is one of two memorials located here to the Gloucestershire 1st and 2nd Battalions which fought in the First and Second Battles of Ypres. The memorial on the right also at Clapham Junction is to the 18th Division which saw action here in 1917 during the Third battle of Ypres.

50th Northumbrian Division Memorial
This monument on "Oxford Road" is to the 50th Division which was established in the north-east of England and sent to the Western Front in April 1915 where it quickly saw action during the Second Battle of Ypres. It helped smash the Hindenburg Line in October 1918. It is inscribed: "To the enduring memory of all ranks of the 50th Northumbrian Division who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 and in memory of their comrades of the same Division who gave their lives in the War of 1939-1945 for the Liberation of France, Belgium and Holland". This indicates that the memorial was later altered as shown in the photo to include a note reflecting the division's heroics in the Second World War. Behind the memorial are barely visible two lines of bunkers and emplacements that made up the line of the Cambrai Redoubt.

RE Grave Railway Wood
Between the wars and today
RE Grave Railway Wood CWGC is unusual for being both a cemetery and a memorial; additionally, it has no gravestones, choosing instead to commemorate the men who died on the Cross of Sacrifice itself.The original memorial was a wooden cross marking where eight Royal Engineers of the 177th Tunnelling Company and four infantrymen working with them were killed in action underground during the defence of Ypres between November 1915 and August 1917 and whose bodies remain in situ. The inscription reads:
Beneath this spot lie the bodies of an officer, three NCOs and eight men of or attached to the / 177th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers / who were killed in action underground during the defence of Ypres between November 1915 and August 1917.
Liverpool Scottish Memorial
A little further along the track towards Bellewaarde Farm is the Liverpool Scottish Memorial which had been erected in July 2000 and is clearly visible just inside the woodland when viewing Bellewaarde Ridge from R.E. Grave as can be seen in the photo below:
Commemorating the June 16, 1915 Battle of Hooge (known officially as the 'First Action at Bellewaarde'). Of 23 officers and 519 other ranks who went into action, only two officers and 140 men came through untouched. Four officers and 75 other ranks were killed; 11 officers and 201 other ranks were wounded and 6 officers and 103 other ranks were reported as missing (almost all of whom were subsequently reported as killed).
The stone was originally the keystone above the entrance at the Fraser St (Liverpool) Barracks of the Liverpool Scottish and shows the badge of the 10th (Scottish) Bn, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) with a piece of ropework decoration above it.

The photograph above was taken by Private Fyfe of the Liverpool Scottish, a press photographer by profession, lying wounded on the German front line. An artillery observation party (an officer and his signaller) can be seen going forward . The banner that can be seen on the right hand side is to indicate the progress of the attacking troops to the friendly artillery so that supporting fire may be lifted and moved on. Wounded men are lying in the foreground and a shell is exploding in Railway Wood. 
Nearby Mr. Heath found four grenades and assorted war debris.
This memorial, unveiled in 1985, commemorates the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry which, in May 1915, suffered under heavy fire here during the Second battle of Ypres. Only four officers and 150 soldiers escaped the battle unhurt. If you look at the centre of the monument you can see flowers that look rather ill-suited; originally the spaces was to be taken by a maple tree which wouldn't grow and had to be relegated to the back of the monument.

Polygon Wood
Polygon Wood is a forest located between Ypres and Zonnebeke and was a significant Great War battlefield in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the "Battle for Passchendaele". It was captured by the Australian 5th Division on September 26, 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road.

Polygon Wood CWGC
Polygon Wood CWGC is about five miles east of Ypres on the Lange Dreve, a road connecting Ypres to Menen. The cemetery contains 103 Commonwealth burials of the Great 17 of them unidentified. 60 of those buried here served with the New Zealand forces. There is also one German grave. A walled avenue leads here, past the Cross of Sacrifice, to the Buttes New British Cemetery. Polygon Wood is a large wood south of Zonnebeke which was completely devastated in the First World War. The wood was cleared by Commonwealth troops at the end of October 1914, given up on 3 May 1915, taken again at the end of September 1917 by Australian troops, evacuated in the Battles of the Lys, and finally retaken by the 9th (Scottish) Division on 28 September 1918.

5th Australian Division Memorial
The entrance leading into the wood which had been completely destroyed during the war. The steps lead to the top of the Butte upon which stands the Australian Memorial.
 The hill after the war dotted with the graves of soldiers
 The monument looking over Buttes New British Cemetery between the wars and today

To its right is Buttes New British Cemetery with its 2,103 graves (only 428 of which are identified) where one finds the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing:
Inscribed on one of the graves of an Australian lieutenant is
I am all right, mother. Cheerio.
Apparently it came from the last letter home...

St. Julien

The road between Ypres and St. Julien
The village of St. Julien was taken by the Germans on April 24, 1915 after the first use of poison gas against Canadians at the 2nd Battle of Ypres. By July 1917 the German lines of blockhouses had been completed which provided the only stable areas of resistance when thunderstorms and the allied bombardments rendered the area a putrid, yellowish sinking morass. It was finally taken on August 3 by the 39th Division at the cost of 145 officers and 3,716 other casualties.

St. Juliaan Monument (The Brooding Soldier)

The shaded area shows the German gains as a result of the first great gas attack, April 24, 1916, at the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Shortly after being unveiled on July the 9th, 1923 by the Duke of Connaught, with Marshal Foch, the Earl of Ypres (Sir John French) and the Canadian High Commissioner in attendance. Foch, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, said in tribute: "The Canadians paid heavily for their sacrifice and the corner of earth on which this Memorial of gratitude and piety rises has been bathed in their blood. They wrote here the first page in that Book of Glory which is the history of their participation in the war."
On the main road from Ypres to Bruges, this most impressive Memorial at St. Julien commemorates the "18,000 Canadians on the British left [who] withstood the first German gas attacks on the 22-24 April 1915. 2,000 fell and lie buried nearby." This had been the first gas attack of the Great War. "The Brooding Soldier" is almost 11 metres high and displays the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier in the position of "rest on your arms reversed."
 The statue is set in the middle of a garden surrounded by tall cedars, which are kept trimmed to mimic shellfire.
Until 1988 this plaque misleadingly read "2,000 fell and here lie buried" when they in fact lie in the cemeteries scattered outside this park.

Henshaw Memorial
Going back on the road and turning left on what had been dubbed "Winnipeg Avenue," (a reference to Mr. Hearth's hometown) a vital position in 1915 and 1917, is the following private memorial:

In memory of
Buckinghamhire Battallion OX
Bucks Light Infantry
who was wounded in Battle Langemark August 16th 1917.
He lay wounded on these field for six days.
He was found on August 22nd, 1917.
He was moved to Casualty Clearing Station 61, Dozinghem near Proven
He died of his wounds on 23rd 1917.
Aged 30 years.
He is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery.
Lovingly remembered by all his family.
Seaforth (Cheddar Villa) CWGC
On the main road south-west of St. Julien is Seaforth Cemetery, originally known as Cheddar Villa, the name given to a farm on the west side of the road. The soldiers buried here for the most part died during the fighting here on the 25th and 26th of April 1915, during the battle of St. Julien. In 1922 the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders asked that the cemetery change its name to mark the fact that so many men from that battalion lie here. Of those 150 graves, 21 are unknown and 19 had graves later destroyed during the fighting. Cheddar Villa farm itself is still there, nearby.

's-Graventafel New Zealand Memorial

Heading towards the New Zealand Monument on the left is the remains of this German dugout.

Signposts to hell- the left directing one to Langemark, the other to Passchendaele.
This memorial was unveiled by the New Zealand High Commissioner in London, Sir James Allen, on August 2, 1924 and honours the New Zealand contribution at Passchendaele in 1917 referring specifically to the October 4, 1917 Battle of Broodseinde. On October 12, within two hours over 2,800 New Zealand soldiers were killed, wounded or listed as missing - the most disastrous day in New Zealand’s military history. Given that New Zealand’s population at that time was only around one million, this was a huge number and possibly goes some way to explain why New Zealand alone chose its own memorial rather than have its missing commemorated with those from the other Dominions on the Menin Gate.
The memorials here and at Messines and Longueval are obelisks with the inscription ‘From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth’ on a plinth at their base as well as a badge incorporating a fern leaf superimposed on crossed taiaha with a frame of Maori carving. The photo on the right shows VCDF Air Marshall David Bamfield and Captain Matthew Jahnke laying wreaths on July 13, 2007.


Dochy Farm New British CWGC
The cemetery is about five miles north-east of Ypres on the Zonnebekestraat connecting Ypres to Zonnebeke. Formerly the site of a German strong-point taken by 4th New Zealand Brigade on October 4, 1917, there are 1,439 buried here of whom 958 remain unidentified.

Scottish Monument
After 90 years the Scots who fought in the Salient have a very moving and worthy monument. The words from the Declaration of Arbroath transcend their original meaning and are a fitting tribute. The photos on the right show the dedication service. 

June 15, October 10, and October 30, 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, was one of the major battles of the Great War, in which British, Canadian, South African, French and ANZAC units engaged the Imperial German Army. A successful attack offered the British chance of inflicting significant casualties on the German army whilst breakthrough into Flanders and thus hinder the German submarine campaign against British shipping whilst also helping prevent German bombers from attacking targets in Britain. It would prevent too the German Army from exploiting the serious morale problems of the French.

During the battle, British troops launched several massive attacks, heavily supported by artillery. However, they never managed to make a breakthrough in well-entrenched German lines. The battle consisted of a series of 'Bite and Hold' attacks to capture critical terrain and wear down the German army, lasting until the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele on 6 November 1917, ending the battle.

Passchendaele has become synonymous with the misery of fighting in thick mud. Most of the battle took place on reclaimed marshland, swampy even without rain. 1917 had an unusually cold and wet summer, and heavy artillery bombardment tore up the surface of the land. Though there were dry periods, mud nevertheless feature of the landscape; newly-developed tanks bogged down in mud, and soldiers drowned in it.

The battle is a subject of fierce debate among historians. The British Official History of the War which covered Passchendaele was the last to be published, and there is evidence it was biased to reflect well on Douglas Haig and badly on General Gough, the commander of the Fifth Army. The heavy casualties suffered by the British Army in return for slender territorial gains have led many historians to follow the example of David Lloyd George and use it as an example of senseless waste and poor generalship. The revisionist school of thought emphasises the achievements of the British Army in the battle by inflicting great damage on the German Army, relieving pressure on the distressed French, and developing offensive tactics capable of dealing with German defensive positions, which were significant in winning the war in 1918. Casualty figures for the battle are still a matter of some controversy. Some accounts suggest that the Allies suffered significantly heavier losses than the Germans, while others offer an even score. However, no-one disputes that hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed or crippled.

Passchendaele New British Cemetery
Of the 2101 buried here, 3/4 are unidentified.
The road to Passchendaele... and Passchendaele during the Great War. The church had stood on the mound in the background.
 The church during the war and its present incarnation Inside are three stained-glass windows in honour of the 66th Division.

In the Battle of Hill 70 from 15 to 25 August 1917, Canadian forces captured this strategic position costing them 9,198 casualties. However, considerable ground was gained and the battle hampered enemy plans to send fresh troops to Flanders whilst the French offensive in the south under General Nivelle was a disaster with losses of 200,000 men, precipitating a wave of mutinies that paralysed the French army. In July, Sir Douglas Haig launched his drive in Flanders designed to break through the front and capture the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast. The offensive had begun successfully at Messines in June, but then followed by weeks of delay. The second and main stage of the attack got under way with a tremendous artillery barrage that not only forewarned the Germans, but also ground the battlefield into potholes and dust. Summer rains poured down on the very night that the offensive began making the area an impassable swamp. As the British struggled in the morass, the Germans inflicted frightful casualties from lines fortified with machine guns placed in concrete pill boxes. In October, although the main objectives were still in German hands and the British forces were reaching the point of exhaustion, Haig determined on one more drive. The Canadians were ordered to relieve the decimated Anzacs and prepare for the capture of Passchendaele. General Currie inspected the muddy battlefield and protested that the operation was impossible without heavy cost. He was overruled and so began careful and painstaking preparations for the assault where, beginning on 26 October, 20,000 men under heavy fire inched their way from shell-crater to shell-crater. Then on 30 October, with two British divisions, the Canadians began the assault on Passchendale itself. They gained the ruined outskirts of the village during a violent rainstorm and for five days they held on grimly, often waist-deep in mud and exposed to a hail of jagged iron from German shelling. By 6 November, when reinforcements arrived, four-fifths of the attackers were dead. Currie's estimate of 16,000 casualties proved frighteningly accurate.  The award of no fewer than nine Victoria Crosses testified to the heroic determination and skill with which Canadians played their part in the bitter struggle for Passchendaele. This memorial stands where Canadian soldiers encountered some of the fiercest resistance. A large block of Canadian granite set in a grove of maple trees and encircled with a low hedge of holly carries the inscription
The Canadian Corps in Oct-Nov. 1917 advanced across this valley-then a treacherous morass-captured and held the Passchendaele Ridge
Tyne Cot CWGC
Tyne Cot is the largest CWGC Cemetery in the world with 11,953 either buried here or whose graves had been destroyed given that fighting continued throughout and the Germans retook the ground and held it between 13 April to 28 September 1918. As a result, nearly 70% of the bodies lie in unidentified graves.
The entrance in the 1930s and today

Between the wars and today; note some of the crosses still have yet to be standardised.
Among these graves is that of Second-Lieutenant Arthur Conway Young, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed on August 16, 1917, at the age of 26. He was, says the inscription, "sacrificed to the fallacy that war can end war". He had actually been born in Kobe, Japan and was the son of the editor of the "Japan Chronicle."
Another inscription for Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries VC, 34th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces reads
Of the three visible German pillboxes within the cemetery captured by Australian divisions on October 4 1917,  a fourth forms the base of the Cross of Remembrance, at the suggestion of King George V; you can see the wall at the base in the photo. The inscription reads
Mr. Heath paying his respects at the grave of James Peter Robertson, VC, a private in the 27th Battalion (from his hometown), Canadian Expeditionary Force who died on 6 November 1917 in the final phase of the Battle of Passchendaele. As his platoon was being held up by a machine-gun, Private Robertson rushed the gun, killed four of the crew and then turned the gun on the remainder. After inflicting more casualties and carrying the captured gun, he led his platoon to the final position and got the gun into action, firing on the retreating enemy. During the consolidation his use of the machine-gun kept down the enemy sniper fire. Later when two of the snipers on his own side were wounded, he went out and carried one of them in under heavy fire but he was killed just as he returned with the second man.
The grave of another VC from the other side of the world-  Lewis McGee, a sergeant in the Australian Imperial Force- awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Battle of Broodseinde as part of the Passchendaele offensive on October 4, 1917. Other VCs from Australia, Joseph Maxwell and John Patrick Hamilton, are shown visiting his grave in 1956.
From the citation for his Victoria Cross in the November 26 1917 London Gazette:
For most conspicuous bravery when in the advance to the final objective, Sjt. McGee led his platoon with great dash and bravery, though strongly opposed, and under heavy shell fire.
His platoon was suffering severely and the advance of the Company was stopped by machine gun fire from a "Pill-box" post. Single-handed Sjt. McGee rushed the post armed only with a revolver. He shot some of the crew and captured the rest, and thus enabled the advance to proceed. He reorganised the remnants of his platoon and was foremost in the remainder of the advance, and during consolidation of the position he did splendid work.
This Non-commissioned Officer's coolness and bravery were conspicuous and contributed largely to the success of the Company's operations.
Monument honouring the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders south of Passchendaele "in memory of the gallant comrades who gave their lives in the operation before Passchendaele at Decline Copse and Vienna Cottage October 28th to 31st 1917" with the names of those killed.

Poperinghe and Vlamertinge
Poperinghe was the primary military centre for British forces located in Flanders, just under 10km west of Ypres (itself formerly a bitter trade rival). Its population in 1904 was placed at 11,680.
Poperinghe in 1917, with Scottish troops in the Grande Place and the re-named Grote Markt today with the Stadhuis, or town hall, in the background.
The cells inside where soldiers waited for their execution "to be shot at dawn"
 The last words of the condemned etched onto the walls before the sunrise.
The execution post on display in the inner courtyard of the Poperinghe Town Hall is said to be that used on 8th May 1919 for Wang Ch'un Ch'ih of the 107th Chinese Labour Corps. He is buried at Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery. Sixteen others executed in Poperinge were buried at Poperinghe New Military Cemetery.

Talbot House and Concert Hall

During the war and after
Talbot House in Poperinge is one of the most evocative sites from the Great War era. It was here that two army chaplains, Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton and Neville Talbot, opened a club for soldiers. Named in honour of Gilbert Talbot, who was killed at Hooge in 1915, it became known as Toc H after the army signal code used in the war. More than half a million soldiers visited the club, which was housed in the mansion of a local hop trader, who had fled the country. It was a place where everyone was welcome; where military rank did not count; and where the troops could play the piano or borrow books (simply by leaving their cap as a deposit!). In short, it was a place where soldiers could become human again. The authentic interior has been largely preserved and the unique spirit of the place can perhaps best be experienced in the chapel - simply called the ‘upper room’ - which has remained untouched since 1918.
Exhibits from the museum inside
For soldiers who had to live for days at a time in a world of mud and shot-up trees, the garden was an oasis of rest and peace. The lay-out of the garden has been restored as it was during the Great War. It has been recently listed as a monument by the Belgian Monument and Landscapes service.
The adjoining hop store (better known during the war as the Concert Hall) and the former bathhouse were both restored in 2004. After the peaceful and quiet atmosphere of Talbot House, visitors can go to the first floor of the former hop store, the actual Concert Hall. It was this room that became the stage for many recreational activities in 1917. Visitors are shown a film of a concert given by the performers 'The Happy Hoppers'. Sentimental and happy songs, jokes and dances are brought together in a non-stop show and this gives a good idea of how things were in 1917. A life-sized ‘album’ about ‘Life Behind the Front’ and a filmed re-enactment of a ‘Concert Party’ are now on permanent display allowing visitors to experience the true atmosphere of Talbot House during the war years and shows how soldiers spent their time away from the trenches.

Skindles Hotel
According to Keegan in The First World War, "the infamous Skindles for officers who wanted a good meal and the company of loose scarcely identifiable" (199-200) but it looked hardly changed when I last saw it in 2008.

Train Station

According to Coombs MBE it was said that "whenever a leave train was due to depart, the enemy artillery interfered, but this did not prevent the place being the most popular and the most-loathed spot in the vicinity; always thronged with travellers waiting for the trains. Returning men, however, did not loiter with the same indifference. A rumour which took a great deal of scotching was that the stationmaster of Pop had been shot as a spy due to the suspicious regularity of the shelling."

Poperinghe New Military Cemetery
The grave of Lieutenant-Colonel George Baker, 38, OC 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles (Quebec Regiment), who was a member of the Canadian House of Commons. He is the only Parliamentarian to have ever lost his life while fighting for Canada. He had been the son of the Honourable George Barnard Baker KC (member of Canadian Senate).
In the Official War Diary of the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles it was written on 4vi1916:
Particularly regretted is the death of our O.C. Lt. Colonel G.H. Baker who has been O.C. since the Regiment was recruited in January 1915. He had endeared himself to Officers and men alike by his tact and cheerfulness under all conditions. Our comfort is that he died as he wished, at the head of his men, and his cross in the new MILITARY CEMETERY at POPERINGHE (LOT 2, G1) is inscribed “Killed in action”, the epitaph of a man. He was buried with full military honours today, the Chaplain of the 3rd Canadian Division Hon. Major A.W. Woods officiating. The following acted as pall bearers, Major Draper, D.C., Captain Rhoades, W., Captain French, J. (1st CMR), Captain Patterson, J. (4th CMR), Captain Robinson, E., Captain Tribeh, A., Captain Hewson, C., and Lieutenant Todd, J.S. Representatives of each platoon in the Battalion followed.
 This Chinese grave is sited alone away from the rest.
Poperinge was the scene of numerous courts martial and executions given its situation directly behind the lines, resulting in large numbers of those shot at dawn buried here:

Private Bernard McGeehan on the right served with the 1/8 King's Liverpool Regiment, and was executed at 6.16 a.m. on the 2nd of November 1916 for desertion. He had been ordered along with the other men in his battalion to return to their trenches on the Somme on the 20th of September 1916, but went missing until the 25th of September when he turned up at Montreuil, claiming he had got lost. By the 28th of September the 1/8 King's Liverpools were at Brandhoek between Poperinghe and Ypres, and McGeehan was escorted to rejoin them there. He was court-martialled and sentenced to death, overlooking the fact that Bernard had walked an hundred miles attempting to find his regiment and voluntarily reported to a British army unit. He served as the focus of the play 'The Worthless Soldier' by the late playwright Sam Starrett.
A particularly interesting grave is that of Private Morris from the British West Indies. As his unit was coloured it was not supposed to be an active unit, yet he was still executed for desertion. Being under-age (he was 17 when executed) was still not a consideration.

Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery
 Begun during the First Battle of Ypres, this cemetery closed for military burials by May 1915, when the New Military Cemetery was started. The cemetery here was full as a result of the nearly 500 civilians buried here at the end of 1914, most having died in a typhoid epidemic. As well as the civilian burials, some 800 French and Belgian soldiers were also buried here. The civilian and the French and Belgian military graves were later removed resulting in the large open space in front of the cross of sacrifice as seen below apart from the grave of Gunner R A Saunders of the Canadian Field Artillery buried beside it.
The grave of Coolie C. C. Wang, Chinese Labour Corps, executed for murder on May 8, 1919.

Dozinghem CWGC
Dozinghem is one of a trio of British Cemeteries which served the hospitals and casualty clearing stations in the locality of Proven. The other two are named Mendinghem (mending 'em) and Bandaghem (bandage 'em) - all three names coined by British troops to sound like local Flemish ones. There are now 3,174 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the Cemetery and 65 German war graves from this period. Of the inscriptions, no less than three stand out:
Gunner Joseph Hatcher's of the 144th Siege Battery, November 6, 1917:
We do not know what pain he bore,
We only know he nobly fell and couldn't say goodbye

Tom Larder of the 9th Bn Sherwood Foresters, born in Moscow in 1894, joined the Newfoundland Regiment and died in Flanders Fields:
And this particularly poignant one for Lance Serjeant James McDowell of the Grenadier Guards, Killed July 22, 1917:

At the end of the war with German prisoners on the right, and Chinese labourers crossing a brook in Vlamertinghe in 1919.

Vlamertinge CWGC
 HM King George V paying his respects
This cemetery is in a village on the Poperinge to Ypres road beneath the rebuilt church. For much of the war it saw intensive activity - during night hours - of transport and troops going to and from the Salient. It was also the site of various medical units. Vlamertinge was often within range of German shellfire and consequently was badly damaged. 1,176 graves of soldiers who died of wounds received in the Salient lie here.

The grave of Captain Grenfell, VC who, according to his citation, won what must have been one of the earliest Victoria Crosses of the war for the following:
On 24 August 1914 at Audregnies, Belgium, Captain Grenfell rode with the regiment in a charge against a large body of unbroken German infantry. The casualties were very heavy and the captain was left as the senior officer. He was rallying part of the regiment behind a railway embankment when he was twice hit and severely wounded. In spite of his injuries, however, when asked to help in saving the guns, by the commander of 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, he and some volunteers, under a hail of bullets, helped to manhandle and push the guns out of range of enemy fire.
He would later recover from his wounds only to later be killed in action at Hooge on May 24, 1915.

Hop Store CWGC
Just beyond Vlamertinge is Hop Store Military Cemetery, containing 248 graves, opened in May 1915 and named after the Hop Store which still stands nearby. It was sited on the safe side of the village, was always destined to remain small; due to its position between a hedge and the Hop Store building.
 Among the graves is that of grave Major Harold Payne Philby, uncle of the infamous spy Kim Philby
The Hop Store itself still remains. During the war it was used by Field Ambulances as well as an HQ for the heavy artillery that was located here.

Vlamertinghe New Military CWGC

1813 lie buried here south of the village of Vlamertinge along the N308 (the Poperingseweg) with Ypres another five kilometres away. For most of the Great War this town was just beyond the normal range of German shell fire and the village was used both by artillery units and field ambulances. Burials were made in the original Military Cemetery until June 1917, when the New Military Cemetery was begun in anticipation of the Allied offensive launched on this part of the front in July. Although the cemetery continued in use until October 1918, most of the burials are from July to December 1917.
The grave of Victoria Cross winner Acting Company Sergeant Major John Skinner of 1st Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers, VC  DCM  Croix de Guerre killed in action 17th March 1918.  Headstone bears inscription “Father in thy gracious keeping Leave we now thy servant sleeping.”  He had joined the Army in 1900 when sixteen years old, was wounded three times in the Boer War, and a further six times in the Great War, the last wound being fatal. 

For most conspicuous bravery and good leading. Whilst his company was attacking, machine gun fire opened on the left flank, delaying the advance.

Although C.S.M. Skinner was wounded in the head, he collected six men, and with great courage and determination worked round the left flank of three blockhouses from which the machine gun fire was coming, and succeeded in bombing and taking the first blockhouse single-handed; then, leading his six men towards the other two blockhouses, he skilfully cleared them, taking sixty prisoners, three machine guns, and two trench mortars.

The dash and gallantry displayed by this warrant officer enabled the objective to be reached and consolidated.
Hospital Farm CWGC

Hospital Farm Cemetery is 6.5 km west of Ypres on the aptly-named Hospitaalstraat, a road leading from the N308 connecting Ypres to Poperinge. The farm had been a dressing station from June to October 1917. The cemetery was used particularly in 1915 and in 1917 by regiments and batteries engaged in the fighting around Ypres. The cemetery contains 115 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and one French war grave.

Brandhoek Military Cemetery

HM King George V paying his respects
The cemetery was begun by the British in May 1915 in a field next to a dressing station. The cemetery was closed in July 1917 when Brandhoek New Military Cemetery was opened. 601 are buried here.

New Military Cemetery
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, followed in August by the New Military Cemetery No 3. There are 530 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 28 German war graves from July and August 1917 and among them is the grave of Captain Noel Chavasse, VC and Bar, MC, one of only three men who have won the Victoria Cross twice, the only man to win the Victoria Cross twice during the Great War. In 1916, Chavasse was hit by shell splinters while rescuing men in no-man's land. It is said he got as close as 25 yards from the German line, where he found three men and continued throughout the night under a constant rain of sniper bullets and bombing. He performed similar heroics in the offensive at Passchendaele to gain a second VC and become the most highly decorated serviceman in the war. The actions which led to Captain Chavasse's unique collection of decorations are too long to examine here and give them due respect.

His Headstone is unique in having two small VCs instead of the usual large one

This nearby church continues to honour him and Private C.A. Rudd who was his batman.

Lijssenthoek CWGC
 The entrance in 1922 and today
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.

The cemetery soon after the war.
The soberly beautiful Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery is the largest of the hospital cemeteries which grew up around the casualty clearing sta- tions to the east and west of Poperinge. Soldiers devised amusing names for these CCSs, which sounded curiously Flemish, but still had a grim meaning: Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem. Lijssenthoek was also popularly known as Remi Cemetery, from the name of the farmer who lived behind the clearing station’s complex of tents. This farm can still be seen today.

The grave of Frederick Harold Tubb, VC after the war and today
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Lone Pine trenches, in the Gallipoli Peninsula, on 9th August, 1915. In the early morning the enemy made a determined counter attack on the centre of the newly captured trench held by Lieutenant Tubb. They advanced up a sap and blew in a sandbag barricade, leaving only one foot of it standing, but Lieutenant Tubb led his men back, repulsed the enemy, and rebuilt the barricade. Supported by strong bombing parties, the enemy succeeded in twice again blowing in the barricade, but on each occasion Lieutenant Tubb, although wounded in the head and arm, held his ground with the greatest coolness and rebuilt it, and finally succeeded in maintaining his position under very heavy bomb fire. —The London Gazette, No. 29328 15 October 1915
He later achieved the rank of major and died of wounds suffered in battle at Polygon Wood on 20 September 1917 whilst serving with 7th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1sr Australian Division when he was shot by a German sniper. Whilst being carried to the rear he was struck by British artillery shells and died here at the dressing station beside the cemetery:

Belying the stereotype of lions being led by donkeys, there are a number of senior officers buried here, giving lie to the myth that the Generals in the Great War kept safe and sound out of harm's way:
Hugh Gregory Fitton, GOC 101st Brigade, 34th Division, has the unique distinction of being the only general officer to become his division’s first battle casualty. On 18 January 1916, three days after the division completed its deployment to France, he was wounded by a German sniper while on an instructional visit to 16th Brigade and died two days later. He was the seventeenth British general to be killed in action or to die of wounds on the Western Front. He had served in the Sudan 1885, Egypt 1885-86 and several Nile Expeditions in the 1890s; ironically, three weeks before Fitton's Brigade landed in France, it was preparing to be sent to Egypt. He had also served in the Boer War 1899-1902. As one officer wrote of him, "Nothing was too much trouble to him as long as his men were thoroughly trained and he had their love and respect" whilst another spoke of "his habit, which endeared him to all, of doing himself everything that the men were asked to do."
Major The Hon. Sir Schomberg Kerr McDonnell QOCH was born in Glenarm, County Antrim, and was educated at Eton and Oxford. He served as private secretary to Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. He fought in the Boer War and was knighted in 1902 and died at Ypres in 1915. The caricature of him of from the October 18, 1894 issue of Vanity Fair captioned "He was Lord Salisbury's Private Secretary."
Brigadier-General Alister Gordon (sharing his name with the Brigadier from Dr. Who), who commanded the 153rd Infantry Brigade, and was a veteran of the Ashanti Campaign of 1901 and also the South African War. He died of wounds on the 31st of July 1917 aged 45. On that day, the 153rd Brigade, part of the 51st Highland Division, attacked at 3.50 a.m. south-east of Langemarck on the first day of Third Ypres.
Brigadier General Robert Clement Gore, commander of the 101st Infantry Brigade Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who died on Saturday 13 April 1918 at the age of fifty.
Major-General Malcolm Smith Mercer, CB (17 September 1859 – 3 June 1916) was a Canadian general, barrister and art patron who practised law in Toronto and led the 3rd Canadian Division during the first two years of the First World War before he was killed in action at Mount Sorrel in Belgium. Mercer was an experienced militia commander and had demonstrated a great flair with training and organising the raw Canadian recruits during the opening months of the war. He also demonstrated courage under fire, visiting the front lines on numerous occasions at the height of battle and personally directing his forces in the face of poison gas attacks and heavy shellfire. Mercer remains the most senior Canadian officer ever to die in combat and was unfortunate to be killed at the opening engagement of the largest battle of his career, when he was trapped by shellfire during a front line reconnaissance and overrun during the subsequent German attack. The division Mercer created and trained remained one of the best units of the Canadian army under his successor Louis Lipsett and Mercer was remembered by the men under his command, many of whom attended his funeral in the aftermath of the battle of Mount Sorrel.
The grave of Lieutenant Henry Richard Thomson after the war and today
The grave of Lieutenant John Edward Raphael of the King's Royal Rifle Corps who had captained England during the All Blacks' first UK tour 1905. He died of wounds in 1917 at the Battle of Messines whilst fighting in the country of his birth, having been born in Brussels.
Leland Wingate Fernald- 'A volunteer from the USA to avenge the Lusitania Murder'
Lance Corporal George Alderson was the only soldier serving with the Durham Light Infantry to be awarded the Albert Medal First Class in Gold (only 45 were ever given) for having "seized a bomb which he knew would explode in four seconds." He died October 15, 1915 after having had his hand blown off in the explosion and his widow received the medal.
 Among the inscriptions found in this cemetery is this for Sapper John Rees Davies 343rd Road Construction Coy. Royal Engineers who died August 8, 1917 at age 39
"Tread softly and doff thy cap for such as he stopped the gap."
Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service was with the 44th Casualty Clearing Station then based near Brandhoek when she died on the 21st of August 1917, aged 26 after the Germans had shelled the area at around 10 a.m., critically wounding her. She was buried here with full military honours with the Last Post played over her grave and was officially described as 'killed in action' by the War Office after only having been on the Western Front since May 1917. According to the CWGC records she is one of only two female Great War casualties who are buried in Belgium.
Beside the French graves is a section to those of the Chinese Labour Corps. Shown is a
 1920 photograph of the original gravemarker for Shoon Shou Yuen who had died in the Spanish influenza epidemic providing his home-address (or of his next of kin)- 山东省长山县南十八里黄家坡  (Huangjiapo village eighteen miles South of Changshan county in Shandong Province), the date of his death combining the Chinese Republican calendar and the lunar calendar and the number of the company to which he belonged (39th).
One of the three graves in the cemetery marked as American (despite non-American dating system on stone) as they had fought under the American flag. Other Americans buried here joined the Canadian or the British Army until April of 1917. To maintain the fiction that the US was neutral, any American who joined a foreign army before then automatically lost his US citizenship and were left effectively stateless upon their deaths. This had changed in the twenties when the US Congress adopted a law that retroactively restored their citizenship.
James Pigue left for Europe on May 4 1918, leaving behind forever his newlywed wife and a son who he would never know. On July 18 he was at an observation post when a sniper shot him through the heart. He was the first man from the Old Hickory Division to be killed in action during the First World War.

Ploegsteert Wood, Messines and Wytschaete
Ploegsteert in April 1919 and the village today
Eight miles south of Ypres, Ploegsteert Wood was a sector of the Western Front in Flanders in World War I, part of the Ypres Salient. After fighting in late 1914 and early 1915, it became a quiet sector where no major action took place. Units were sent here to recuperate and retrain after tougher fighting elsewhere and before returning to take part in more active operations. British Tommies referred to it as "Plugstreet Wood". There are numerous cemeteries around the wood.
View of 'Hunters Avenue,' a well known duckboard path which ran through Ploegsteert Wood, on February 16, 1918. The photo next to it shows the same spot 90 years later. On the road is this sign noting the famous people who had served in this area.
Inside Ploegsteert Wood itself are three evocative cemeteries; entering from the North are:
Ploegsteert Wood CWGC
The cemetery was founded by enclosing a number of small cemeteries made by individual regiments. The grounds were established in December 1914 as the "Somerset Light Infantry Cemetery", expanding in April 1915 when the "Bucks Cemetery" was started by the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. A further cemetery was established by the Gloucesters and the Loyal North Lancashire regiments in October 1915, named "Canadian Cemetery, Strand" after its 28 Canadian graves and the nearby Strand trench. The cemetery was used by New Zealanders in 1917. It fell into German hands on 10 April 1918 and remained occupied until 29 September, when the Hundred Days Offensive swept fighting out of the Salient.

Toronto Avenue CWGC
Despite the name, derived from one of the paths running through Plug Street Wood, it has no connection with Canada but is in fact the only all-Australian cemetery in Belgium. 78 officers and men from the Australian 9th Brigade (3rd Division) who were killed during the Battle of Messines between June 7th and 10th 1917 lie here.

Rifle House CWGC
The cemetery in 1921 and today. This beautiful cemetery in the middle of Ploegsteert Wood and containing 229 graves takes its name from a strong point that stood in Ploegsteert Wood and was first established the first year of the war.

Mud Corner CWGC
This is the first cemetery upon entering through the official access way to Ploegsteert Wood via a muddy track just north of Ploegsteert Wood reached by a small road leading off the main road to Ypres. It is one of the smaller of the 23 000 cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with just 85 graves dating from the outbreak of the Battle of Messines in 1917. It's too small to have an altar of sacrifice. All but one British grave are Australians and New Zealanders.
 Further down the path is Prowse Point Cemetery.
This is the only CWGC named after a person -Brigadier-General C B Prowse, DSO, Somerset Light Infantry, who died in July 1916, whilst commanding the 11th Infantry Brigade. In fact, Prowse is actually buried in Louvencourt Military Cemetery on the Somme, in France. The pool in front is the result of a shell and was actually part of the front line.

Prowse Point is where the remains of men whose bodies have been discovered in recent times in or near the wood have been reburied. One such recovered body was Private Harry Wilkinson of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, found in 87 years after, identified by his name tag and buried here in 2001 with full honours.

Strand CWGC

North from Ploegsteert is Strand Military Cemetery with over 1000 burials. 'Charing Cross' was the name given by the troops to a point at the end of a trench called the Strand, which led into Ploegsteert Wood. In October 1914, two burials were made at this place, close to an Advanced Dressing Station.The cemetery was in German hands for a few months in 1918. There are now 1,143 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 354 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to six casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to 13 whose graves in four of the concentrated cemeteries were destroyed by shell fire. There are also eight Second World War burials from May 1940 during the withdrawal of the British at Dunkirk. Nearby are three British bunkers behind a house on the same side of the road.

Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing and Berks Corner CWGC
Just over the provincial (and linguistic) border, not far from Messines, lies the burial ground known as Berks Cemetery Extension. The most striking feature of this cemetery is the memorial to more than 11,000 missing soldiers from Great Britain and South Africa, who died as a result of ‘routine’ trench warfare or in one of the minor operations designed to support major offensives elsewhere. On the first Friday of every month the Last Post is sounded here at 1900 hours.
Further down the road is this impressive memorial where 11,369 men with no known grave are commemorated. The inscription on the interior of the circular top of the memorial shows that the memorial commemorates "those who fell fighting between the River Douve and the towns of Estaires and Furnes". It was unveiled on 7 June 1931 by the Duke of Brabant and was the work of the architect Harold Chalton Bradshaw, with sculpture by Gilbert Ledward and comprises a circular temple with pillars guarded by two lions, one of which embodies stern defiance and the other serenity. Ledward’s lions are quite magnificent and measure 198 x 482.5 x 157.5 cm and mounted on bases 90 cm high. Ledward also designed two coats of arms, carved in relief and placed on the exterior wall of the memorial. The names of the missing are inscribed on panels on the interior surfaces of Bradshaw's circular double colonnade and the names of the various battles which took place in the area are inscribed on the exterior walls.
The arms of the Country and of the Regiment on either side of the names arranged by Regiment, and then alphabetically within each regiment.

One lion growling in defiance in war and in repose in peace.

The cemetery extenstion with 876 graves is across the road from the memorial.

An incongruous site cycling towards Messines from the south:

This replica of an Irish ‘Round Tower’ at the Island of Ireland Peace Park near Messines was unveiled on 11 November 1998 by the President of Ireland Mary McAleese in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and King Albert II of Belgium to all Irishmen who served and died in World War I, especially in the three divisions raised in Ireland of the BEF: the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 10th Division and the 16th Division. There is also an upright tablet listing the counties of Ireland, the names flowing together to suggest the unity of death and a bronze tablet depicting a plan of the battle area.
 There are also nine stone tablets with prose, poems and letters from Irish servicemen:
Spent all night trying to console, aid and remove the wounded. It was ghastly to see them lying there in the cold, cheerless outhouses, on bare stretchers with no blankets to cover their freezing limbs.     —Chaplain Francis Gleeson, Royal Munster Fusiliers 
As it was, the Ypres battleground just represented one gigantic slough of despond into which floundered battalions, brigades and divisions of infantry without end to be shot to pieces or drowned, until at last and with immeasurable slaughter we had gained a few miles of liquid mud.     —Charles Miller, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 
So here, while the mad guns curse overhead, and tired men sigh, with mud for couch and floor, know that we fools, now with the foolish dead, died not for Flag, nor King, nor Emperor, but for a dream born in a herdsman’s shed, and for the sacred scripture of the poor.   —Tom Kettle, 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers 
In a matter of seconds, a hissing and shrieking pandemonium broke loose. The sky was splashed with light. Rockets, green, yellow and red, darted in all directions; and simultaneously, a cyclone of bursting shells enveloped us.     ”  —JFB O’Sullivan, 6th Connaught Rangers 
It is too late now to retrieve a fallen dream, too late to grieve a name unmade, but not too late to thank the Gods for what is great. A keen edged sword, a soldier’s heart is greater than a poet’s art. And greater than a poet’s fame a little grave that has no name.  —Francis Ledwidge, 5th Inniskilling Fusiliers 
I wish the sea were not so wide that parts me from my love, I wish that things men do below were known to God above. I wish that I were back again in the Glens of Donegal; they’ll call me coward if I return, but a hero if I fall.    —Patrick MacGill, London Irish Rifles
Hostilities will cease at 11.00am on the 11th day of the 11th month. After that time all firing will cease. This was joyous news. Approaching eleven o'clock in our sector you could have heard a pin drop. When eleven o'clock came there were loud cheers. The war was over as far as we were concerned.     —Terence Poulter, 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers
So the curtain fell, over that tortured country of unmarked graves and unburied fragments of men: Murder and massacre: The innocent slaughtered for the guilty: The poor man for the sake of the rich: The man of no authority made the victim of the man who had gathered importance and wished to keep it.    —David Starret, 9th Royal Irish Rifles
I mean the simple soldier man, who when the Great War first began, just died, stone dead from lumps of lead, in mire.     —William Orpen, Official War Artist

The Battle of Messines began on 7 June 1917 when the British Second Army under the command of General Herbert Plumer launched an offensive near the village of Mesen (Messines) in West Flanders, Belgium. The target was a ridge running north from Messines past Wytschaete village which created a natural stronghold southeast of Ypres. One of the key features of the battle was the detonation of 19 mines immediately prior to the infantry assault which disrupted German defences and allowed the advancing troops to secure their objectives in rapid fashion. The attack was also a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres (aka Passchendaele) which began on 11 July 1917.
The New Zealand Battle Memorial for 1917 on the Messines Ridge taken September 29, 1918 by the 30th, 31st and 34th Divisions.

The Messines Ridge (New Zealand) Memorial to the Missing is situated within Messines Ridge British Cemetery about five miles south of Ypres. Messines was considered a strong strategic position, not only from its height above the plain below, but from the extensive system of cellars under the convent known as the 'Institution Royale'. The village was taken from the 1st Cavalry Division by the German 26th Division on 31 October-1 November 1914. An attack by French troops on 6 -7 November was unsuccessful and it was not until the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917 that it was retaken by the New Zealand Division. On 10-11 April 1918, the village fell into German hands once more after a stubborn defence by the South African Brigade, but was retaken for the last time on 28-29 September 1918. This monument stands within Messines Ridge British Cemetery and commemorates over 800 soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and who have no known grave. It is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known all of which are found in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died.
Overlooking the German positions taken by NZ troops to reach the ridge and the same view in 1919 showing Irish Farm from the Rossignol Hill 63
German pillboxes taken that remain on either side of the monument. 

 Messines Church 
In 1919 and 2009 
Memorial plaque commemorating Samuel Frickleton, VC who, following the outbreak of the First World War,  joined the New Zealand Military Forces in February 1915 and embarked for the Middle East with the 5th Reinforcements with the rank of corporal in the Canterbury Battalion. After arriving in Egypt in June, he became ill and was repatriated back to New Zealand and subsequently discharged as medically unfit for active service. After a period of convalescence, he re-enlisted for the NZEF in 1916. By March 1917, he had been promoted to corporal.  On 7 June 1917, Frickleton participated in the Battle of Messines. His battalion was attacking the edge of Messines village when it was slowed by two machine gun posts. He was awarded a Victoria Cross (VC) for his actions in dealing with these posts. The citation for his VC read as follows:
For most conspicuous bravery and determination when with attacking troops, which came under heavy fire and were checked. Although slightly wounded, Lance Corporal Frickleton dashed forward at the head of his section, rushed through a barrage and personally destroyed with bombs an enemy machine gun and crew, which were causing heavy casualties. He then attacked the second gun, killing the whole of the crew of twelve. By the destruction of these two guns he undoubtedly saved his own and other units from very severe casualties and his magnificent courage and gallantry ensured the capture of the objective. During the consolidation of the position he suffered a second severe wound. He set, throughout, a great example of heroism.    
Hitler's painting of the church during the war

Standing inside the crypt where Hitler had been billeted.

Messines Ridge British Cemetery
This cemetery stands at the former site of the 'Institution Royale' (the Cross of Sacrifice is on the site of the Institution's windmill) and established after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefield around Messines and from a number of smaller burial grounds. There are now 1,534 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 957 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them, or who were buried in other cemeteries where their graves were destroyed by shell fire.
 At the entrance surmounted by the Cross of Sacrifice is this memorial dedicated to the officers and men of the New Zealand Division and their part in the battles on the Messines Ridge in June 1917. The memorial, designed by Charles Holden, is located on the south-western edge of Messines village, on the Rue des Neo-Zeelandais. It lists 827 officers and men of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force with no known grave who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918. The inscription at the centre of the memorial reads
Here are recorded the names of officers and men of NEW ZEALAND who fell in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and whose graves are known only to God 
The names are shown on the walls to the right and left of the central inscription.
The body of a soldier thought to have been killed on June 7, 1917, during the New Zealand Division's capture of Messines and discovered during excavations of a pipeline in Messines in April 2012 is reburied February 25, 2013. His coffin was draped with the New Zealand flag and a soldier's hat as a guard of honour from Ypres Barracks fired three volleys as the Last Post and Reveille played followed by the New Zealand national anthem, sung by Kiwi soprano Carleen Ebbs. A metal shoulder badge NZR (New Zealand Rifles), a belt buckle and gas iodine capsules were found close to his remains. 

The village of Wytschaete was fought over throughout the war, originally taken by the Germans in November 1914, it was retaken by Commonwealth forces during the Battle of Messines on June 7th 1917, it then fell into enemy hands once again in April 1918, before it was finally retaken on 28th September 1918.
Wytschaete (or 'White Sheet' as Tommies referred to it) cemetery contains 486 British, 31 Australian, 19 Canadian, 11 South African, 7 New Zealand, 1 German and 673 unknown burials. The cemetery also contains some 25 special memorials.

Somer Farm CWGC
Somer Farm during the war and today; with 87 graves from Britain and Australia and one unknown grave it is a cemetery so small it doesn't have a registry box.
Comparison of some of the graves as they appeared after the war and today, standardised:
 Pte Patrick Joseph Curran, L/Cpl W. A. Jones, and the grave of Pte George Lilley, visited by his parents after the war and today

Oosttaverne CWGC

The cemetery was is situated in what had been No Man's Land before the Battle of Messines, 1917. During the Second World War, the BEF was involved in the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. The cemetery contains 1,119 First World War burials, 783 of which are unidentified as well as 117 from the Second World War, five of them unidentified. Behind we can be able to see a German concrete bunker.
 The 19th (Western) Division Memorial between the wars and today. Topped with the Butterfly device of the 19th Division, it honours their role on the first day of the Battle of Messines when they took Oosttaverne.

Spanbroekmolen was the name of a windmill 1 mile south-west of Wytschaete on the Messines Ridge.
The scene today 
The Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater, also known as Lone Tree Crater and now 'The Pool of Peace, is a result of the largest of nineteen mines blown by the British Army on the morning of June 7, 1917 which signalled the start of the Battle of Messines.

Derry House #2 CWGC

This cemetery is just north of Messines on a road leading from the Rijselseweg N365, which connects Ypres to Wytschaete and on to Armentieres. The cemetery was begun in June 1917 by the 11th Division (32nd Brigade) and used as a front line cemetery until December 1917. It was used again in October 1918 by the 2nd London Scottish. Although this cemetery is named "No.2", there is no other cemetery of this name. Altogether there are 126 British and 37 Australians buried here. We'll be able to see a pillbox beside the dead, created by remains of a concrete command post built by engineers of the 37th Division in July 1917.

La Laiterie CWGC
About seven kilometres south of Ypres is this final resting place for 751 Commonwealth servicemen, of whom 571 are identified. The cemetery had been named after a dairy farm and was begun in November 1914 and used until October 1918.

Memorial to the American 27th and 30th Divisions near Vierstraat
This large white Rocheret stone monument set up in 1929 commemorates the 27th and 30th American Divisions who fought in August and September 1918. Around 1,300 from the 27th Division and 800 from the 30th Division died during this engagement, and the monument stands in the middle of the area fought over. Nearby is this Demarcation stone surmounted by a French helmet. One can still faintly read the legend Kemmel.
Kemmel Hill after the war and today

Not far from the demarcation stone is the French ossuary at the foot of Mont Kemmel, shown before and after the memorial stone was erected in the early 1920s. The ossuary contains the remains of 5 294 soldiers, all but 57 of them unknown. Most of these soldiers fell in the April 25, 1917 Battle of Mount Kemmel in which the French lost this strategically important hill to the Germans and Ypres was almost captured.

Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery
This cemetery was established on the north side of the grounds of Kemmel Chateau north-east of Kemmel village in December 1914 and continued to be used by divisions fighting on the southern sectors of the Belgian front until March 1918, when after fierce fighting involving both Commonwealth and French forces, the village and cemetery fell into German hands in late April. The cemetery was retaken later in the year, but in the interval it was badly shelled and the old chateau destroyed. The resting places of 1135 men of the Empire lie here- 1030 British, 80 Canadian, 24 Australians and one New Zealander.
 The graves of two men buried here 'shot at dawn'  for desertion in 1917- Private Stanley Stewart of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, executed 29viii and Private James Smith, 17th Battalion, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment), executed 5ix. The latter had been the subject of a play, "Early One Morning", written by Bolton playwright Les Smith and first performed there on October 22, 1998 to mark the 80th anniversary of the armistice. He had almost lost his life on the Somme when, on 11 October 1916, a massive German artillery shell buried him alive on the Transloy ridge, with bits of his friends around him, and shrapnel created a large deep wound on his right shoulder. According to his sister, it was big enough to put a fist in. He was rescued and taken home to Townleys hospital in Bolton, but in a very poor mental and physical state from which he never recovered. The shocks and horrors of the battles that he had seen had damaged him to such an extent that he was clearly unfit for further service. Sixteen days after returning to the Front, he left his post without orders. On 29 December 1916, he was court-martialed for a breach of military discipline and ordered to do 90 days' field punishment. On 15 July 1917, just before the battle of Passchendaele, he was court-martialed for a second time for going absent without leave. He was only 26 years old when executed.

Pillbox and crater along the Dammstrasse to Bayershof (White Chateau)
A British pillbox; behind is the Bayershof German Headquarters:

Bayershof (White Chateau)
Displays along the road allow one to compare the panorama then and now from the German positions and German trenches behind where Hitler is supposed to have served.
Directions for Hill 60 in the 1920s and today
Hill 60 was a low rise on the southern flank of the Ypres Salient, named for the 60 metre contour which marked its bounds. It wasn't a natural hill but was created by the ground removed whilst constructing the railway line nearby. The hill had been captured by the Germans on December 10, 1914 from the French forces. During the race for the sea, it was obvious the Hill had to be retaken. A great deal of the fighting around Hill 60 was underground as can be seen by the memorials today. The British immediately began tunnelling a number of mines beneath the hill. By April 1915 twenty one mines had been completed. At 19:00 on April 17, 1915 the mines were detonated, demolishing a large part of the hill and killing many German soldiers occupying the trenches. The British battalions suffered only 7 casualties in capturing the hill. The Germans succeeded in recapturing the hill but the British regained possession on April 18. Fighting continued until April 22 and was eventually taken by the Germans following a gas attack on 5th May, 1915. The results were devastating with the front trenches overrun and the forward companies almost wiped out. Only 2 officers and 70 men from one battalion remained. It was only due to the heroic defence by a platoon of the Devon and Dorsets and the Battalion Headquarter Staff of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment that a major breakthrough was prevented.
Just outside the entrance to Hill 60 is this monument to the Australian 1st Tunnelling Company who took over maintenance of the British mines underneath whilst the Germans were holding it in November 1916.  The memorial is located next to the entrance gate of the Memorial Site and reads as follows:
In Memoriam of Officers and Men of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Coy who gave their lives in the mining and defensive operations of Hill 60 1915-1918. This monument replaces that originally erected in April 1919 by their comrades in arms. 1923
You can clearly see the bullet holes on the memorial plate from the Germans' return engagement in the Second World War, apparently out of a fit of pique.
This monument to the 14th Light Division, next to that of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, records that the Division landed in France in May 1915, comprising KRRC, Rifle Brigade, Ox & Bucks Cyclist Co., Royal Engineers, Signals, Pioneers and a Mobile Veterinary Section. The battle honours of the Division listed include Ypres, the Somme and Arras.

Looking across from both memorials one can see Ypres next to nearly the same view soon after the war.
There are a number of remaining pillboxes on Hill 60. This one was originally German, but modified by the Australians in 1918. Throughout are the remains of craters blown by mines. This particular depression was blown at the start of the Battle of Messines.

The original memorial before it was destroyed by the Germans during the Second World War and today, where the regiment fought its first open engagement.