Superb designed Battlefield Tour in Flanders Fields with special focus on the First Battle in October-November 1914, the Second Battle with the Gas Attacks in 1915 and the cruel 3th Battle, the Battle of Passchendaele 1917). We go down in the trenches, we face the landscape that was so important for strategy reasons. We meet the living and the dead. The killing and the resurrection of a region and civilisation. One message is echoing all the way: peace and a positive attitude towards each other is so much better. Let's meet each other!
On this fascinating program : John Mc Crae (‘In Flanders Fields’’)-bunker, Essex Farm, Yorkshire Trench, Ceasar’s Noise, German Friedhof, Brooding Soldier, Tyne Cot Cemetry, Polygoon Wood (and Black Watch Corner), Bellewaerde Ridge (or Hooge and R.E. Railway Wood Grave), Hill 62, Hill 60, the Bluff, Hedge Row and Spoilbank Cem., Bedford House Cemetry….
Option to involve the French Cemetry of St.-Charles de Potyze (shortcut return) and other hidden surprising testimony spots.
Enlargement (up to 64 km or 40 miles) with the Bayern Wald-trenches.
Sometimes it can be better to cycle this tour in the opposite way, especially if a longer stop at the Passchendaele 1917-Museum is considered).
Part 1: 1 KM Location: Starting in direction of Cloth Hall, Cathedral (the Lapidarium)
Ground Zero in Ypres on 22th November 1914. The Burning of Ypres, when the proud towers of Cloth Hall and Cathedral went up into flames. Now surrounded by the Lapidarium (former abbey), a place for contemplation in the heart of the rebuilt town. Nearby: St.-Georges Anglican Church.
Part 2: 5KM Location: Essex Farm & John McCrae-site
“In Flanders Fields the Poppies grow, between the crosses row on row”. These are the pillar boxes where in May 1915 dr. John McCrae wrote his world famous poem (2nd Battle of Ypres – it started with the first gas attacks)
Part 3: 8 KM Location: Yorkshire Trench
The Yorkshire trench in the middle of nowadays industrial zone of Ypres. Still remarkable place to study the underground war.
Part 4: 13 KM Location: German Friedhof in Langemark
Let’s have a look to the “other side” of the war: visiting the German Cemetery. A very touching and emotional place as well. Part of a dark and sad reality as well. Impressive silence all around.
Part 5: 16KM Location: Brooding Soldier (Canadian Memorial)
Fascinating Memorial that honours and remembers 18.000 brave Canadians of which 2000 sacrificed their lives in order to stop the first German gas attacks, part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915. A very poisoned spring…
Part 6: 20 KM Location: Tyne Cot Cemetery Passendale
The biggest military cemetery of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the world. This is Passchendale and it makes the year 1917 unforgettable. The silence of the dead here are in fact some eternal cry for PEACE.
Part 7: KM 24 Location: Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
We cycle the Australian Walk (in opposite direction) to arrive on the brilliant castle domaine of Zonnebeke. The castle now has become the Battle of Passchendaele Memorial Museum. In case of a planned visit during our tour to be mentionned before. We may shorten the rest of our trip then. Or ride this tour in opposite way, just to make it in the right timings.
Part 8: KM 26 - 28 Location: ANZAC Memorial Polygoon Wood & Black Watch Corner
Another not to be missed site, especially if you have bonds with Australia and New-Zealand. Café De Dreve (digger Johan Vandewalle!) is a strongly recommended lunch- and drink stop (incl. private museum). A bit further we get dropped in the First Battle of Ypres: the Black Watch Corner.
Part 9: KM 30 - 32 Location: Hooge Crater & Hill 62
Now a kids fun park (Bellewaerde Safari) but a century ago the German reinforcement with trenches, bunkers and still a lot of rusty now harmless war materials (1€ p.p. to visit the spot). Annex also another well equiped private museum: Hooge Crater Museum. A bit further there is still another one: Sanctuary Wood Museum at Hill 62. Canadians do remember here the Battle of Mount Sorrel (1916).
Part 10: KM 36 Location: Hill 60
A very impressive war site: craters, bunkers, monuments and the now covered but still omnipresent tunneling constructions. Across the railroad bridge we also get overwhelmed by a perfect circle of water: the crater of the Caterpillar (June 7th, 1917 Battle of the Mines).
Part 11: KM 39 - 43 Location: The Bluff - Bedford House Cemetery
No Mans Land becomes very visible here. So green and peaceful as it is now, so toughly and cruelly fought it was a century ago. Here in 2018 there will be planted 600.000 clay statues, symbolizing the equal number of people that were killed in the First World War in Belgium, all nationalities together…
A bit furter we have a last stop on a former Dressing Station, the during the war destroyed castle of Rozendael. Now a peaceful but very large cemetery with so many different nationalities (from Jamaica to India).
Part 12: KM 49 Location: Menin Gate Memorial (Last Post)
Nearly 55.000 names on this in 1927 created British War Memorial: all men who have no known grave despite sacrifying their lives in the Great War. When we pass under the Monument, our finish of today, we get silenced again. At 20.00 hrs gathering for the Last Post Ceremony perhaps/probably ?
Geniet na van een lekker drankje of versnapering in onze fietsbar, in het historisch centrum van Ieper!