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  'Ydym yn Cofio'

We shall not sleep,

though poppies grow in

Flanders Fields

John McCrae 1872-1918

 

 

Fairfield Motorsport welcomes you to it's Flanders Battlefields web page, for many years we have visited the battlefields, museums and monuments of the Ieper salient and paid our most humble respect and would like offer you a brief experience.

2014 is a 100 year milestone for outbreak of World War I. The 'Great War' the War to end all Wars. We must not forget all the Soldiers who gave their today for our to-morrow and the sacrifice that all who fought made, their generation have now all gone, and the generation who remembered them as Fathers, Brothers & Uncles is also drawing to a close and memories of the living man are mainly left with grandchildren.

                   

' They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not wary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning

         We will remember them . '

        Lawrence Robert Binyon 1869-1943

 

World War I Historic Dates

28th June, 1914 the Archduke Franz-Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary.  Declarations of war followed in sequence, Germany, Russia, France, Great Britain, Belgium. Austria-Hungary, Serbia etc.,

20th September, 1914 the first Battle of the Somme, in October the front line became stabilised

it streched 470miles from the Yser river in Flanders

to the Swiss border.

1915 the war ragged with no major breakthroughs and the battlefields stretched into Dardanelles (Turkey)

1st July 1916 the battle of the Somme with some

one millon soliders and 200,000 horses in position

the first batitle was the Battle of Albert.

58,000 men fell, 20,000 killed, the Newfoundlanders lost 700 men in thirty minutes (their memorial is at Beaumont-Hamel) it was a disasterous July and continued to the end with disaster, the 38th Welsh Divison (also known as Lloyd George's Divison) at Mametz (Welsh Memorial Mametz) one Royal Welsh Fusiliers was first World War poet Siegfried Sasson

who founght along side Welsh Poet Robert Graves

who later wrote of Mametz .......

' it was full of dead Prussian Guards, big men, and dead Royal Welch Fusiliers and South Wales Borderers, little men.  Not a single tree in the wood remained unbroken.'

When they counted the Welsh Divison casualties at Mametz they numbered some 3,993 with 46 Officers and 556 Soliders dead.

 

      'This morning, twenty men buried

       in one long grave, a broken mosaic

        of bone linked arm in arm, their

      skeletons pauded mid dance-macabre'

                                                   Owen Sheers

1917

April America joins the War two and a half years after the sinking of the Lusitania

June the Battle of Messines (Flanders)

July to October 1917 the Third Battle of Ieper (Ypres) the battle of Passchendaele - they died in hell they called it Passchendaele

November 1917 saw the first British mass tank attack (381 tanks) at the battle of Cambrai (France)

1918 battles continued with great loss of life but at long last the War ends on the 11th November 1918.

Military and Civilian casualties were over 37 million.  With more than 16 Mililon deaths and 20 Million wounded.

 

Ieper (Ypres) today is a beautiful Flemish City which dates back to medieval times which was destroyed by the conflict of War and rose again offering the modern traveller all one could wish, excellent hotels, cafés , restaurants, shops, wonderful chocolates a beer selection found no were other than in Belgium and just on its outskirts a theme park – Bellewaerde, but what comes to most people’s minds and the reason for visiting this magnificent City is the tragic history its holds of the Great War 1914-1918the war to end all wars’  the Flanders Battlefields stretched throughout the Flemish countryside which surrounds Ieper salient were some of the bloodiest battles in history such as Passendale and Messines took place.

We have travelled to Flanders for many years but still find ourselves finding out new information, during our first visits we found the number of British and Commonwealth graves astonishing and only when you see this does it register in your mental ability on how many laid down their lives for our to-morrow.

 

Field after field row after row some small some large but all shinning with the respect they deserve. Let alone the fallen that lay in these cemeteries, names are recorded for those with no known grave on the Menin Gate 54,896 names are recorded and again on the walls of Tyne Cot Cemetery (Passendale) 34,984 names are carved and are still being added to today.

There is not an abundance of birds, they did not all return but this is also not a depressing place, it proves man’s ability to return from the darkest depths.

A suggested itinerary for visitors to Ieper and the salient

Firstly we would recommend that you purchase a good map you will find in Ypres, Poperinge & Diksmuide branches of Standaard Boekhandel an excellent book shop the 1914-1918 Battle Map. In Ypres the shop is across the road from the Cloth Hall and in Poperinge & Diksmuide in the main shopping area.

 

                                      

 

 

Road Signs

Cemeteries and Monuments will be sign posted along your route

                            

 

 

Chocolates we highly recommend Calinor, by far

not the cheapest but definitely the best, they are located in the main shopping area (Boterstraat 16)

and just out of town at J.Capronstraat 28, Ieper

which is open on Sundays 10.00 to 12.30

                              

 

Beer, Wine & Spirits

Beer we find good value and selection for beer

and wine selection at Delhaze Supermarket, it is

very much like our Waitrose chain, the main store

is based at Maarschalk Haiglaan 31, 8900 Ieper is

not open on Sundays a small franchised market

which also offers excellent bread and cakes which

is open until lunch time on a Sunday is based on

Menin Road, look carefully for the Delhaize sign it’s easy to miss, but when you find it the chocolate

éclairs are to die for !   Delhaize also has branches in Diskmuide & Poperinge and most major towns

A typical Delhaize store

 

Ieper (Ypres) Weekly Market Day

On Saturday mornings there is an open air market on the market square, so if staying in Ieper do not park on the square on a Friday night or you will find yourself being towed away and paying a large fine.

 

Brooding Solider - Sint Juliaan the monument stands on the side of the N313 on the outskirts of Ieper (Ypres) of a Canadian solider it is 12metres high with it's head bowed and hands resting on its rifle butt, looking out over the site of 18,000 fallen comrades and marks the area of the first mustard gas used by the Germans in the Ypres salient.

Artillery Wood Cemetery

On the 31st July, 1917 and fighting in the 3rd Battle of Ieper - also known as the battle of Passendale two celtic poets died one Irish and one Welsh, Edward Ledwidge and Hedd Wyn – Ellis Humphrey Evans both are buried and remembered in Artillery Wood Cemetery.  The day Hedd Wyn and Ledwidge died 31,000 soldiers died in the Battle of Pikem Ridge - The British commander in Chief, Field Marshall Douglas Haig - made the bald entry in his diary for the 31st July : " A fine day's work " .  The Cemetery is on the road from Langemark to Boezigne.

 

             Demarcation Stone - Boezinge

If you go into Boezinge you will see a good example of a demarcation stone just across the road from the Spa Shop.

These stones can be found along the battle line of the Western Front in Belgium and France. In Belgium the stones are called  ‘Demarcatiepalen’. The stones were first introduced in 1920 to commemorate the line of departure from which the Allies launched their victorious offensive against the Germans. During World War II many of the stones were intentionally damaged by the Germans.

 

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the World it is located close to the village of Passendale there is a recently opened visitor centre which Her Majesty the Queen visited.

 

' We died in hell, they called

it Passendale '

 

Not far from Tyne Cote on the way back towards Ieper is the Memorial Museum Passchendale 1917 which can be found at Ieperstraat 5, B8980 Zonnebeke.  It is an imposing building on a corner flying many flags.

 

 

Crest Farm Passendale

Canadian Memorial Crest Farm

This site is well worth a visit and isn't far from Tyne Cote Cemetery and close to the village of Passendale.

The Memorial is on high ground, planned for you to look out across a peaceful Salient, farms dotted around the countryside.

Your view is over the ground were the Third Battle of Ieper was fought one of greatest military disasters of British High Command.  The loss of life was greater than the number of soliders that now serve in the British Army, many did not die by the bullet, bayonet or shell fire they just sank and drowned in the mud !

                                

 

 

Hop's

 

Poperinge

                   

                Death Poll Memorial Poperinge

              inscribed with the words of Rudyard Kipling, 

              Kipling tragically lost is son Jack in the War

The Coward

Rudyard Kipling

                         I could not look on Death

                               which being know,

                              Men lead me to him,

                                lindfold and alone,

 

Poperinge the railway station in Poperinge is where the troops arrived following their posting to Flanders. More than often on the arrival of the troops the German shelling would increase many thought that the Station Master was a German sympathiser.  Poperinge was also their place of rest when given short leave from the trenches and also were the death at dawn shootings took place. British and Commonwealth military command executed 306 of its own men during the Great War. It is with great shame that the Military Commanders and British Government of today still feel that all of the executed shot, often recklessly shot, without consideration of their mental health or trauma suffered still bring such shame on their country that nearly a century on, some oftheir names still do not appear on official war memorials.

'On the 8th November, 2006 legislation was passed by the British Government which pardoned those men in the British & Commonwealth armies who were executed '

Relatives and supporters of the executed men are fighting to win them a posthumous pardon. Their Shot at Dawn campaign claims the soldiers were blameless because it was severe psychological trauma, not cowardice that rendered them physically unable to cope with the shocking scenes they had witnessed. A number of these executions were carried out at Poperinge. It is possible to visit a death cell.

Shot at Dawn Memorial - National Memorial Arboretum

Near Alrewas, Staffordshire, England

346 Executions took place of which 322 were in Belgium and France

Poperinge is in the centre of Hop growing country and is home to a Hop MuseumThe Hop Museum is close to main market square and in easy walking distance if you are parked up on the market square.

Hop's

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Messinnes

Loker

If you travel into or through the village of Loker you might be shocked to see an Irish Bar on the corner of the road , the bar has been there long before anyone ever thought of Irish Theme Bars.  In World War I it was the Irish Regiments that took the heavy toll in the battle(s) of Messines.  One Irishman who fought and gave his life in the battle was Willie Redmond, Redmond was a Major in the British Army and Member of the British Parliament, but was ultimatley a republican but believed in Irish participation in the War. He is strongly membered in Loker were he is buried and in Wexford (Republic of Ireland) were there is a square named in his memory and Redmond Memorial Park

                

                   Redmond's Grave - Loker

Carry on this road through Dranouter, there is Folk Club on your right as you enter the village of Dranouter which serves good food and an excellent restaurant on your right hand side about 100 yards after the Church.  The road takes you through the Flanders countryside to Mesen, and in fact you will be travelling through what was the heart of were the battle of Messines was fought.

Peace Village Mesen

 

Diksmuide

Diksmuide is in the Polders north west of Ieper (Ypres) holds history from World War I and II. During the war as the German Army approached the area the Polders were opened and flooded the area to delay their advance. The town sits on the river Yser and a boat trip can be taken to Yper.

It is home to the Ijzerten museum offering you an insight of history throughout the ages, the Ijzerten stands 84metres high and covers 22 floors.

The trench of death were Belgian regiment after regiment failed until glory was gained on the 28th September, 1918.  60,000 soliders lost their lives in the trench. There is a visitor centre on site.

 

Pax (Peace) Tower & Ijsertoren - Diksmuide

 

 

 

 

Black Mountain - Kemel

No trip to Ieper is complete without a visit to the Black Mountain, take the road out of Ieper in the direction of Dikkebus, continue towards Loker turning right onto the N372 follow this road straight on into an interesting shopping area, alternatively you can travel from Poperinge to Loker. You will find a good model shop ‘Domino’ which also sells beer, spirits and cigarettes, you are on the French/Belgium boarder (Domino’s address to set a sat nav is Bellestraat 55, 8954 Belgium) you are in the Kemmel Region, the

highest ground in the area which was heavily fought over in World War 1.

 

      

 

 

Menin Gate

 

Menin Gate, the gate is one of the main points of entry into the city, it sits at the top of a busy street just a short distance from the market square, each night at 20.00hrs. (8.00pm) the Ieper Police close it to traffic for the buglers of the Ieper Fire Brigade to sound the last post in honour of the fallen, never a night goes by all seven nights of the week, fifty two weeks of the year come rain hail or snow that there isn’t pilgrims showing their respect and gratitude for the sacrifice given. The gate was designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield and unveiled in July, 1927 and remains to this day British Territory

Lille Gate, Ieper

 

Buglers Ieper Fire Brigade, Menin Gate

 

 

Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle), Ieper

 

Cloth Hall (Lakenhalle), Ieper the Cloth Hall sits onthe main market square and houses the In Flanders Fields Museum.

It is well worth remembering that St. Martins Cathedral and the Cloth Hall were reduced to also rubble in World War I, a good place to visit to see photographs of this time is the Museum and the De Kollebloeme Café / Restaurant on the Grote Markt, to the rear of the downstairs are excellent historic photographs of Ieper at the same time enjoy a drink, snack or meal.

 

In Flanders Fields Museum

                 

           St. Georges Chapel, Ieper (Ypres)

across the road from St. Martins Cathedral. The church opened for worship March, 1929, it is an essential visit, and nearly every item in the Church has been given in memory of an individual or regiment. Eton College paid for the building of a school for the children of the British community alongside the vicarage and Church and in 1938 there were ninety-eight children in the school (they had to flee with the German advance in World War II). Since 1945 the church has served as the memorial church for all who fought and all who died in Flanders in both world wars. Remembering that many thousands of British & Commonwealth soldiers passed through Ieper in the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940 and also in the period following liberation on the 6th September, 1944. The church belongs to the Church of England under the diocese of Gibraltar.

St. Martin's Cathedral Ypres

 

Essex Road Cemetery

If you travel along the road to Boezigne from Ieper on your right you will see the Essex Cemetery where there is a memorial stone to John McCrae the author of In Flanders Field Poem.

 

 

                    In Flanders Fields

                        John McCrae

      Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was born in

      Canada in 1872 and served as surgeon in in

      Ypres, he died on the 28th January, 1918

      and is buried Wimereux Cemetery,

      Pas-des-Calais, France.  His death was caused

      by pneumonia

 

 

 

          

            Hooge Crater Museum & Cafe

If you leave Ieper on the Menin road in the direction of Geluveld you will see a sign to Hill 62, you will find a Canadian Memorial and can take a trench experience. When you rejoin the main road and once again travel in the direction of Geluvled you will see on the left hand side of the road opposite the Hooge Crater a museum and café this is well worth a visit. Further along the road is the Bellewaerde theme park.

          

                 Worcestershire Regiment

      & South Wales Boarderers Monument                             Geluveld

            this monument is not easy to find

The first battle of Ieper started on the 19th October, 1914 and almost all civilians left.  On the 31st October 1914 there was heavy fighting at Geluveld after the Germans had captured the village, the mill and chateau.  The chateau was recaptured for a time by the Worcestershire Regiment and the South Wales Boarderers.

 

 

Hill 60 - Zillebeke

Hill 60 was created was a railway cutting was made and the spoil was tipped on adjacent ground, one of the first regiments to fight there was the 2nd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment, it was a bloody place and you are reminded if you visit of this with it left with the scars of war and that bodies still remain in its soil.  We made a visit to Hill 60 many years my grandparents neighbour in the little South Wales village of Coytrahen 'Dolf Edwards' fought at Hill 60, Dolf liked a pint or many pints on a Saturday night in the local Nicholls Arms and would more than often wake the street on his return home singing Mademoiselle from Armentieres.

On the wet, cold windy Easter day we visited with my Father a Burma Veteran said ' I forgive him for all the times he woke me'

Monument to the 1st Australian

Tunnelling Company Hill 60

 

 

Celtic Cross

rear of St. Martins Cathedral Ieper

in memory of the fallen in the

Irish Munster Regiments

 

 

 

Talbot House

 

           Also in Poperinge is Talbot House just a

          short walk from the market square, many

          soldiers spent their time on leave at

          Talbot House

 

 

Café & Hotel de la Paix

Poperinge

 

 

A good place in Poperinge to enjoy a drink or meal is the de la Paix situated on the corner of the market square

On Fridays mornings there is an open air market on the market square, so if staying in Poperinge do not park on the square on a Thursday night or you will find yourself being towed away and paying a large fine.

 

Market Square - Poperinge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battle of Messines

      Said by some to be the first Armageddon

                    of modern warfare

' Prior to the major allied offensive in the Ypres Salient, the southern frontline stretching around Wijtschate and Mesen required straightening.  To assist this effort the German advanced positions on the high ground were mined with 24 charges deep underground.  The Germans found out about the work, however, and attempted to interfere by using shafts and tunnels up to 40 metres deep.  Eventually on 7th June 1917, 19 mines with a total of half a million ton of high explosives were detonated.  The impact on the Germans was so devastating that in few hours they abandoned the entire Messines Ridge.  The Battle of Messines is considered the greatest military success of the entire war. '

 

 

 

Irish Peace Tower

              

                Monument to the fallen Irish Soldiers

                                       Messines Ridge

 

 

      In 1998 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

      opened the (Irish) Peace Village Mesen just

      a short distance from the Irish monument. 

      The Governments of North & Republic of

       Ireland funded the building of the Peace Village.

      The aim of it's building was to bring the children

      of Ireland together in Messines, the place where

      their ancestors fought side by side during the

      First World War.

      There is a Cafe and Bar inside the Peace Village

      The Pool of Peace is the best known of the

      16 remaining mine craters of 7 June, 1917

      and has a diameter of some 75 metres.  In

      the near vicinity are two cemeteries with

      mainly Northern Irish casualties of June, 1917

 

Peace Pool

 

General Information

 

If you are looking for a guided tour of the Flanders Battlefields area there are companies who specialize in this, please click on the following links for more information :

Salient Tours are based in Ieper also based in Ieper and for a truly individual touch Battlefield Tours based on the outskirts.

 

ATM Machines - Hole in the Wall

Cash points in Belgium are not as evident as in the UK the majority are in the bank foyers not on outside walls.  The machines are advanced compared to ours offering a variety of languages.

Some popular Banks you will see on the High Street are

AXA logo.svg
ING Group N.V. logo

 

KBC Bank logo.svg

 

 

 

Fairfield Motorsport

Contact details

                     Tele : 01 656 725000

           E-Mail : info@fairfieldmotorsport.com

 

Fairfield Motorsport offer packages for the independent traveller to the Flanders Battlefields / Ieper Salient if you would like to look at the hotels we offer please click here

 

   

Summer Ieper - Main Market Square

 

Christmas Ieper

 

     The Trench of Death (Diksmuide)   

       The trench of death were Belgian regiment

after regiment failed until glory was gained

on the 28th September, 1918. 

60,000 soliders lost their lives in the trench.

There is a visitor centre on site.

The trench of death was active from 1914 to 1918 Belgian Regiments one after another struggled in unbearly conditions to defend the line hampering and stopping the German advance.

Towards the end the Belgian soliders were only yards from the Germans the attacks were incessant, trenches narrow and mortar attacks killed soliders like sitting ducks.

 

 

 

 

 

       opening_bunker

Not far away is the De Commandobunker at Kemmel to find this on sat nav the address is Commandobunker Kemmel, Lettingstraat, 8951 Heuvelland


 

   
   
Fairfield Motorsport