Zillebeke and Hellfire Corner

Hellfire Corner
Site of Hellfire Corner- "the most dangerous corner on earth."

One of twelve remaining demarcation stones around Ypres. This one records the furthest advance of the Germans in the Spring of 1918. In fact, it has since been moved a few yards to the left in order to accommodate the traffic circle that has transformed the historic crossroad.

It was the French sculptor Paul Moreau-Vauthier who had the idea in 1920 of putting down a series of stone markers all along the front line as it was after the victory at the Second Battle of the Marne on 18 July 1918, this front line running from the North Sea to the Swiss border. The markers are carved from pink granite and are no more than one metre high. On the top of the demarcation stone is a laurel wreath surmounted by the helmet of whichever Army stopped the Germans at the point marked. Thus we see a British "tin-helmet" or a Belgian or French helmet. There are depictions of grenades and palms at each corner and a water bottle hanging from a strap on one side and on the other, again hanging from a strap, a gas mask case. The demarcation stones are inscribed "Ici fut arrete L'Envahisseur", "Here the invader was brought to a standstill" and "Hier werd de overweldiger tot staangebracht".  Moreau-Vauthier's idea was endorsed by Henri Defert, president of the Touring Club of France who invited the Belgian Touring Club to join the project. A total of 240 markers were planned (28 in Belgium, 212 in France), of which 118 were erected (22 in Belgium, 96 in France) in the years between 1921–1927. In France these demarcation stones are known as "Borne du Front" and in Belgium as "Demarcatiepalen" . Some stones have been destroyed over the intervening years but many still exist. The planned number of demarcation stones was never achieved as funds seem to have run dry and enthusiasm for the project had waned.
To the right of Hellfire Corner is Potijze, less than a mile away. This was a major location within British lines, serving as the 27th Division's headquarters. Around it are three cemeteries that stand as a testament to the violence seen here.

Potijze Burial Ground CWGC
 Immediately after the war and between the wars

This cemetery is one of four in and around the site of the former Potijze Château which, before having been destroyed by German artillery fire, had been behind the Entente lines for most of the war and served as an Advanced Dressing Station.
Frank Hurley's classic 1917 photo of Chateau Wood

Potijze Chateau Lawn and Wood CWGCs
These adjoining cemeteries are two of four in and around the site of the former Potijze Château. The château was behind Allied lines for most of the war and served as an Advanced Dressing Station. The château was destroyed by German artillery fire. The cemeteries were extended after the war by concentration of battlefield graves and small cemeteries from the north-east of Ypres.  

After the Armistice and between the wars.

These two cemeteries appear to be just one.

Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery
 Between the wars and today. It was used from April 1915 to October 1915 and today holds the remains of 580 Britons, three Australians and one Canadian; Canada 1 as well as two Germans.
One stone marks the resting place of Mervin Merefield Parsons, killed at age 26 in 1915, and his brother, 2nd Lieutenant H.M. Parsons, "killed at Merville 13iv18 aged 24."

Potijze French National Cemetery

  After the war and today. The sculpture is of a mourning mother and a crucifix erected in 1968.
Four unidentified French soldiers were buried here in April 2006 to join over 3,750 comrades.

Between the wars and today This demarcation stone is just outside the town.

Heading towards Zillebeke which is less than two miles south west of Ypres and was the scene of two Victoria Crosses being won by John Henry Stephen Dimmer and John Franks Vallentin in 1914.

Perth (China Wall) CWGC
The name refers to that given by soldiers to a communication trench known as the 'Great Wall Of China.'
From between the wars and today
A Welshman who had emigrated to Australia in 1913, Second Lieutenant Frederick Birks was awarded the Military Medal during the Battle of the Somme for leading a squad of stretcher-bearers in the vicinity of Pozières and the V.C. for action at Glencorse Wood during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), September 21, 1917. From his citation:
For most conspicuous bravery in attack, when, accompanied by only a corporal, he rushed a strong point which was holding up the advance. The corporal was wounded by a bomb, but 2nd Lt. Birks went on by himself, killed the remainder of the enemy occupying the position, and captured a machine gun. Shortly afterwards he organised a small party and attacked another strong point which was occupied by about twenty-five of the enemy, of whom many were killed and an officer and fifteen men captured. During the consolidation this officer did magnificent work in reorganising parties of other units which had been disorganised during the operations. By his wonderful coolness and personal bravery 2nd Lt. Birks kept his men in splendid spirits throughout. He was killed at his post by a shell whilst endeavouring to extricate some of his men who had been buried by a shell.
Major William Henry Johnston of the Royal Engineers, who later was killed June 8, 1915, was awarded the V.C. at Missy-sur-Aisne during the “Race to the Sea” after the Battle of the Marne which stopped the Germans in front of Paris. From the citation:
At Missy, on 14th Sept. [1914], under a heavy fire all day until 7 p.m., worked with his own hand two rafts bringing back wounded and returning with ammunition; thus enabling advanced Brigade to maintain its position across the river.

The cemetery just after the conclusion of the war. 
Three special memorial headstones commemorating 108 soldiers buried in other cemeteries, and whose graves were destroyed by later fighting.
 Graves marking the collective resting places of eight, eleven, and thirteen men

Two of seven soldiers shot at dawn buried in this cemetery, the left being the grave of Private Thomas Docherty of the King's Own Scottish Borderers executed for desertion in July 1915 and the other being the grave of Private George Ernest Roe, of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, from Sheffield, shot at dawn for desertion in June 1915, aged 19. On November 7, 2006, the British government announced a pardon for all soldiers executed in the Great War.
Both men here were shot July 26, 1915 with two others on the Ypres Ramparts for desertion. Private Fellows, a father back in Birmingham,  was shot by firing squad with four other deserters from the 3rd Battalion on July 26, 1915. Corporal Ives was shot despite members of the court martial recommending mercy on the grounds that he may have been telling the truth when claiming that e had suffered memory loss from shellfire.  However, his sentence of death was confirmed by the Field Marshal.
Private Evan Fraser of the Royal Scots was executed for desertion in August 1915, aged 19. He is commemorated on a special memorial, his original grave having been lost. Fraser absconded from his regiment at 4pm on 24 May 1915. He was arrested the next day at a local railway station in possession of a forged pass and handed back to the British. Whilst in British custody he escaped, but again was caught after little more than 24 hours. Two weeks later, he escaped custody for a second time and again was arrested within a day. On 13 July he was charged with having deserted on three occasions and of conduct to the prejudice of good order (having a forged pass). He was undefended at his trial. He pleaded guilty to the forgery, but not guilty to the counts of desertion. His battalion adjutant gave evidence, saying that Fraser was "a continual source of annoyance", a shirker and a continual deserter. He was shot at 4am on 2 August 1915

Cycling further down the road is Tuileries CWGC
Tuileries means "tile factory", and its chimneys provided a means for the opposing side to calibrate their shells which led to the cemetery itself being heavily shelled and the sites of most of the original graves were lost. After this cemetery had been started in 1915, it was later destroyed in subsequent fighting. The photo on the right shows one of three French graves joining 95 British allies. Most of the gravestones are positioned around the edges of the otherwise empty-looking cemetery, and are marked "known to be buried in this cemetery", with the default additional phrase "Their glory shall not be blotted out", a line suggested by Rudyard Kipling.

Zillebeke Church ( "Aristocrats’ Cemetery")

 The church has been rebuilt over the remains of the original, completely flattened during the war.
A display case in the church and stained glass honouring the British, personified here by St. George.
Many early war casualties lie here, including several members of the aristocratic prewar regulars. Very unusually, there are two non-standard headstones to be seen here. They can just be picked out among the standard headstones in the general views below.
On the left is the grave of Second Lieutenant Baron Alexis George de Gunzburg, Russian born but lived in Paris. He was killed on the 6th of November 1914, serving with the 11th Hussars. The tombstone bears the imprint of the stonemason of Ypres who made it.
The other unusual headstone here on the right is that of 2nd Lieutenant Lee Steere, of the Grenadier Guards. He had taken over command after the death of Captain Symes-Thompson. After trying to find the sniper responsible, he himself was shot through the head. He had been awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1914 Star.

Two graves of Grenadier Guardsmen: The Right Honourable Henry Bligh Fortesque Parnell, 5th Baron Congleton and eldest son of Major General Henry, 4th Baron Congleton, C.B., and Baroness Congleton and Major Lord Bernard Charles Gordon-Lennox, son of Sir Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, 7th Duke of Richmond and married to the daughter of Henry Brougham Loch, 1st Baron Loch. He had two sons: Maj.-Gen. George Charles Gordon-Lennox and Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Henry Charles Gordon-Lennox.
Rising DSO, R.E. Maj. Gloucestershire Regiment served in the Boer War and was awarded his DSO in the defence of Langemarck on October 23 1914, one of the first of the first Great War.
Lieutenant The Honourable William Reginald Wyndham, third son of the 2nd Baron Leconfield who joined the Life Guards in August 1914 was killed in action on the 6th of November 1914.
"Life is a city of crooked streets,
death is the market place,
where all men meet"

Oorlogsgraf CWG
Despite the death being listed as 2000, the grave still merits a "Commonwealth War grave" plaque outside the church. According to a comment I found on youtube by dglenl
My mother's uncle Charles Stennett was killed at Paschendale. His remains were never recovered and his is one of the 35,000 names on the wall. One of my mothers brothers Michael Stennett lived and worked in Belgium for the British War Graves commission to oversee and maintain the British and commonwealth cemeteries including Tyne Cot.
Zillebeke Demarcation Stone
These monuments were one metre high, designed by Paul Moreau Vauthier and placed along the 960 kilometres of the Western Front to mark the limit of the German Advance in 1918. They were placed beside main roads and crossroads and were paid for by Touring Clubs of France and Belgium. (Coombs, 1976)
Further down this road turning right one gets to Chester Farm and Spoilbank CWGCs and the western entrance to Palingbeek Park:

Chester Farm CWGC
British Empire troops began using the site as a cemetery in March 1915 named after a nearby farm. The cemetery organisation is unusual in that the dead are mostly grouped by battalion, departing from the usual Commission practice of there being little or no order other than date to the burials.
There are special markers for six soldiers (five British and one Canadian) who are known or believed to be buried in the cemetery but whose actual plot was lost or destroyed. These stones usually have the Rudyard Kipling-derived footnote "Their glory shall not be blotted out".

Just outside this crater remains at the entrance of Palingbeek Park, now a golf club.

Voormezeele Enclosure #3 CWGC
The village of Voormezeele was just behind the British line at St. Eloi and was taken in April 1918 before being recaptured by the American 30th Division on August 31.
Originally founded as four enclosures, there are now three cemeteries in Voormezeele, formed by grouping (enclosing) separate regimental cemeteries. There is also one grave in Voormezeele's parish churchyard. Both the village and the cemeteries fell into German hands on 29 April 1918 during the Spring Offensive, falling back to the Allies in September 1918 during the Hundred Days Offensive that swept fighting away from the Salient.
This particular enclosure was founded in February 1915 by Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, expanded by later use by other units. The enclosure was expanded by concentration after the Armistice from nearby smaller sites. Also interred in Enclosure 3 are the dead of the Hampshire Regiment and others who reclaimed the area from German hands in September 1918.
One of the special memorials recording five men who were known to be buried in another cemetery but who could not be found when that cemetery was concentrated to the Voormezeele Enclosures after the Armistice. There are others to fifteen men who are known or believed to be buried on the site.
A notable burial at this cemetery is Canadian Lieutenant Colonel Francis Douglas Farquhar of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment), who earned a Distinguished Service Order medal. He had been the Regiment's first Commanding Officer and was an officer with the Coldstream Guards and Military Secretary to Canada's Governor General, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught.
The role was much more than ceremonial. As the senior regular British officer in Canada, he was a respected and important link between the Imperial General Staff and the Canadian Army. It was the partnership and social connection between Farquhar and Gault that was the key to the formation of the regiment. An officer of the elite Coldstream Guards with a superb record and Royal connections, there is little doubt that Farquahar could have commanded a battalion of his own regiment and would very likely have quickly risen to command a brigade. That he chose instead to help rally a regiment of former soldiers is testament to his commitment to duty above self.
He was the son of Sir Henry and the Hon Alice, and the husband of Lady Evelyn (née Hely-Hutchinson) and had served in China with the Chinese Regiment of Infantry in December1901. Upon his return from China he was posted for duty in the Somaliland campaign of 1903-1904. He served on the General Staff, War Office from 1908 to 1913 and attained the rank of Major in 1910 and to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1913.

Londoner Private William Dulgarians Crombie is also in Enclosure 3. He was only 16 years of age when he was killed on 9 November 1916.

Voormezeele Enclosure #1 and 2 CWGC

Hill 62

Maple Copse CWGC
 After the war in 1919
I visited this beautiful cemetery by cycling south from Ypres to the Hell Fire Corner roundabout following the signposts past the church in the centre of Zillebeke.The name was given just before Canadian forces arrived to relieve the British here in 1916.

142 Canadians join 114 from the U.K. as well as 52 unknowns. Hill 62 is just beyond.

Hill 62 (Mount Sorrel) Canadian Memorial
 On the left is Mount Sorrel with Armagh House in the foreground, whilst the right shows Observatory Ridge and the corner of Armagh Wood, taken from Mount Sorrel.
This monument honours the Canadian soldiers who fought over a bloody period of five months to defend the last few square kilometres of Belgian territory still in Allied hands.

On the morning of June 2, the Germans launched the fiercest bombardment yet experienced by Canadian troops. As men were literally blown from their positions, the 3rd Division fought desperately until overwhelmed by enemy infantry. By evening, the enemy advance was checked, but the important vantage points of Mount Sorrel and Hills 61 and 62 were lost. A counter-attack by the Canadians the next morning failed; and on June 6, after exploding four mines on the Canadian front, the Germans assaulted again and captured Hooge on the Menin Road.
The newly appointed Commander of the Canadian Corps, Lt-Gen. Sir Julian Byng, determined to win back Mount Sorrel and Hill 62. He gave orders for a carefully planned attack, well supported by artillery, to be carried out by the 1st Canadian Division under the Command of Major-General Currie. Preceded by a vicious bombardment, the Canadian infantry attacked on June 13 at 1:30 a.m. in the darkness, wind and rain. Careful planning paid off and the heights lost on June 2 were retaken. "The first Canadian deliberately planned attack in any force," the British Official History was to record, "had resulted in an unqualified success." The positions regained by the Canadians would remain part of the Allied line in front of Ypres until the massive German offensives in the spring of 1918.

The cost was high. At Mount Sorrel Canadian troops suffered 8,430 casualties.
The Canadian Hill 62 memorial - known as Mount Sorrel - is sited next to the Sanctuary Wood museum in the Ypres Salient. The name 'Hill 62' referred to the area's height above sea level in metres. Although referred to as Mount Sorrel the Canadian memorial is actually located some 800 yards north of Mount Sorrel itself. The memorial comprises a block of white Quebec granite weighing almost 15 tons and bears the inscription
Here at Mount Sorrel on the line from Hooge to St. Eloi, the Canadian Corps fought in the defence of Ypres April–August 1916
 From it Ypres's Cloth Hall can clearly be seen.
 Trenches destroyed by artillery during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, showing German dead. June, 1916.
Near Sanctuary Wood, October 25, 1917 and the site today

Footage of the memorial

Sanctuary Wood CWGC and Memorial to Lt. Rae
Just a few hundred metres down the road from the Canadian memorial past the Hill 62 museum is this noteworthy cemetery.
To give some indication of the savagery of the fighting, only 637 bodies are identified of the of the 1,989 who lie buried here.One of the 637 identified graves belongs to Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot of the Rifle Brigade, in whose memory Talbot House where I stayed at Poperinghe was established in December 1915 by two army chaplains, Talbot's brother Neville Talbot and Philip 'Tubby' Clayton. At the back against the wall lies the German pilot Hans Roser, who was shot down on July 12, 1915 by pilot Lanoe Hawker. The British retrieved his body from the wreckage and interred him among their own dead out of respect for his gallantry. Hawker would later win the VC before himself being shot down by the Red Baron.
Hans Roser is the only German buried at the Sanctuary Wood Cemetery. His is the only square gravestone, all other gravestones have a bow shape.  In the register of Sanctuary Wood there is an inscription in English: "He couldn't fly without a plane". Furthermore, there are German sentences with more information on the place and date of death and how he was shot.  A Special Memorial at Sanctuary Wood remembers him thus: "The young pilot, from West Germany, who did not even fight went to the front, unknowing. He has been one of too many, his grave still stands between thousands of others."  
Outside the cemetery is this memorial to Second Lieutenant Thomas Keith Hedley Rae, who commanded a platoon in 'C' Company at Hooge Crater. He was killed on 20 July 1915 at Hooge during the use of 'liquid fire', (a type of flame-thrower), "last seen burnt and bleeding, standing on his parapet firing at the attackers." The memorial was built in Hooge in 1921, but transferred here in the 1960s.