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Hellfire Corner, Menin Road, Ypres

Just down the Menin Road from Birr Cross Roads Cemetery lies what was once the most dangerous place on Earth. The Great War’s Hellfire Corner is now the site of a roundabout on the outskirsts of Ypres.

Hellfire Corner, Ypres, From East

Hellfire Corner From North

Hellfire Corner From South

Hellfire Corner From West

Like most of the countryside around Ypres it’s relatively peaceful now (apart from traffic) but during the Great War the corner was a cross-roads over which troops going up to the front line of the Menin Road had to pass, running the gauntlet of German artillery zeroed-in on the site.

I found these videos online showing the canvas screens erected to obscure the view of the German observers as well as how the corner looks today:-

The voice-over artist on this one pronounces Hooge (Hooghe) as “Hooj”. I’m sure it’s really “Hoo-gih”:-

Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Belgium

Birr Cross Roads Cemetery lies on the Menin Road just east of Ypres/Ieper. One of the many Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries surrounding the city.

The cemetery contains 834 burials, 330 of whom are unidentified casualties. There are 504 identified casualties; from the United Kingdom (375,) Australia (115,) New Zealand (9,) Canada (4) and one Belgian.

From Menin Road. Cross of Sacrifice to right of centre, Stone of Remembrance to left of gates:-

Birr Cross Roads Cemetery from Menin Road

Soldiers of the Great War:-

Graves, Birr Cross Roads Cemetery,

The Belgian grave is of an interpreter to the British Army. It is inscribed, “A la Memoire de De Wattine Camille, L E, Sergent de l’Armee Belge, interprete a l’Armee Britannique. Mort pour la Belgique, la 29 Septembre 1918.” (In memory of De Wattine Camille, L E, Sergeant, Belgian Army, interpreter to the British Army. Died for Belgium, 29/9/1918):-

Grave of an Interpreter, Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Near Ypres

The nine New Zealanders there include five soldiers from the Maori Battalion.

Corporal W M Karena, New Zealand Maori Battalion, 30/11/1917 and Private H Kanaru, New Zealand Maori Battalion, 30/11/1917:-

Maori Graves, Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, Belgium

Private H R Kereama, New Zealand Maori Battalion, 7/12/1917, aged 26 and Private M Hapuku, New Zealand Maori Battalion, 30/11/1917:-

More Maori Graves, Birr Cross Roads Cemetery

Private H M Power, New Zealand Maori Battalion, 7/12/1917, aged 22:-

New Zealand Maori Battalion Grave, Birr Cross Roads Cemetery, near Ypres

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders

Yorkshire Memorial from Essex Farm Cemetery. The memorial overlooks the Ypres-Yser canal:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Closer View. Inscription reads “XLIX West Riding Division 1915 1918.”

Yorkshire Memorial Essex Farm Cemetery Closer View

Dedication, “To the memory of all ranks of the 49th West Riding Division who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War 1914 1918.”

Dedication,Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery

1915, 1916 and 1917 Battle Honours:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, 1915, 1916 and 1917 Battle Honours

1917 1918 Battle Honours:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery 1917 1918 Battle Honours

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres (Ieper,) Flanders

Essex Farm Cemetery is located on the banks of the Ypres-Yser canal by the site of the Advanced Dressing Station where Lt Col John McCrae was serving as a medical officer when he wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” I have blogged about him previously in connection with the McCrae Memorial at Eilean Donan Castle in Lochalsh, Scotland.

The cemetery contains more than 1,000 graves. Unusually for a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery its Cross of Sacrifice is located right at the entrance:-

Essex Farm Cemetery Ypres, Cross of Sacrifice

Graves from northwest:-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From southeast. Note Yorkshire Memorial on the canal bank:-

More Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From northeast:-

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Graves

From south. Again note Yorkshire Memorial (which I shall come back to):-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from Yorkshire Memorial:-

View of Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from north, Yorkshire Memorial to left:-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

A tree trunk has grown round the gravestone of Private J MacPherson, Seaforth Highlanders, who died on 5/7/1917, aged 33:-

Commonwealth War Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Symbolic of the fact they fought and died over the same ground the cemetery holds a German grave, Franz Heger, RIR, 238, 7/8/1916:-

German Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Grave of Rifleman V J Strudwick, The Rifle Brigade, 14/1/1916, aged 15, said to be the youngest British Empire casualty of the Great War. (There may be some doubt about this.) It is nevertheless a focus for remembrance:-

Youngest Casualty, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

John McCrae Commemoration stone. Written in four languages, French, Flemish, English and German, with the poem itself also inscribed on the memorial along with a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript:-

John McCrae Commemoration, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

The bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery where John McCrae worked as a medic:-

Bunkers at  Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunker interior:-

Interior of Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Another bunker interior:-

Another Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunkers, looking back up to Essex Farm Cemetery grounds:-

Bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Information board with a photograph of how the bunkers appeared during the war:-

Information Board Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Lest We Forget:-

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.

Some corner of a foreign field…. Wieltje Farm Cemetery

Wieltje Farm Cemetery is close to Ypres (Ieper,) Flanders, Belgium, just off the N313 road. The access is up a grassed path between two houses into a field growing crops. The path continues round the edge of the field until it is at a right angle to the cemetery to which it then leads.

115 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War are buried here along with one German.

Wietje Farm Cemetery From Access Path

Wietje Farm Cemetery, Flanders, Belgium

Graves and Cross of Sacrifice:-

Wietje Farm Cemetery, Graves

The German grave; Unteroffizier O Hoffmeister, R Inf R, 22/9/1917. This lies off to the left of the previous photo:-

Wietje Farm Cemetery, German Grave

Hooge Crater Museum (iii)

German Great War memorabilia in Hooge Crater Museum. In my own Great War collection I have a mug similar to one shown here:-

Hooge Crater Museum 13

Trench Art including inkwells in the shape of Renault tanks:-

Hooge Crater Museum 14

British Great War memorabilia (above) and German (below.) Again I have some of the featured British items in my own collection:-

Hooge Crater Museum 15

More trench art, Renault tank inkwells with poilus’ helmets:-

Hooge Crater Museum 16

Trench art cabinet:-

Hooge Crater Museum 17

More trench art:-

Hooge Crater Museum 18

Mock-up of British dugout:-

Hooge Crater Museum 19

If you are ever in Ypres/Ieper I would recommend a visit to Hooge Crater Museum as well as to In Flanders Fields Museum.

Zonnebeeke War Memorial

Zonnebeeke is in Flanders, Belgium, just west-north-west of Ypres. We passed through it on the way to Tyne Cot and Langemark War Cemeteries.

I had stopped to photgraph a distinctive building in the town (more of which later) and this War Memorial was on the same crossroads.

I could only see the date 1940 on it but Belgian soldiers from Zonnebeeke certainly died in the Great War.

Zonnebeke War Memorial

In Flanders Fields Museum Exhibits (iii)

Italian Field Gun beside horse ambulance in In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres:-

Italian Field Gun

Machine Gun:-

Machine Gun

Stokes Mortar:-

Stokes Mortar

Trench Mortars:-

Trench Mortars

At the exit there was a list of wars since 1918 – so many I had to take three photographs.

(1):-

List of Wars Since 1918 (1)

(2):-

List of Wars Since 1918 (2)

(3):-

List of Wars Since 1918 (3)

In Flanders Fields Museum Exhibits (ii) Headstones

I didn’t photograph the British headstone as I have posted many of those before.

Belgian Headstone:-

Belgian Headstone, In Flanders Fields Museum

German Grave Marker + French Cross:-

Great War German Headstone + French Cross

German Headstone. Unusual. The German grave markers are usually laid flat. French Cross behind:-

Great War German headstone

Muslim Headstone:-

Muslim Headstone

Unattributed Headstone plus various commemorative statuary:-

Unattributed Headstone

In Flanders Fields Museum Exhibits (i)

Exhibits in In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres (Ieper) Belgium.

Anti-tank rifle:-

Anti-tank Rifle, In Flanders Fields Museum

Photograph of survivors of a Canadian battle of the Great War:-

Canadians, In Flanders Fields Museum

Flame Thrower (Flammenwerfer):-

Flame Thrower, In Flanders Fields Museum

(The next one was too far behind its glass for the camera to focus properly.) Fritz Haber was responsible for developing Chlorine gas as a weapon. Also without his Haber Process to make ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen (necessary for producing artificial fertiliser) the Germans would have been unable to make nitrate explosives and so would have been forced to an armistice much earlier. The main exhibit was of an actor speaking Haber’s words:-

Fritz Haber Exhibit

Tableau of Horse Ambulance:-

Tableau of Horse Ambulance

The Wipers Times was a satirical magazine produced by soldiers during the Great War:-

Copy of Wipers Times

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