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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

Remembrance Trees, Ypres

From the look of them these were planted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. They mark the position of the front line.

Remembrance Tree, Menin Road, Ypres

The map shows the British Front Line in blue and the German in red. The numbers refer to the locations on the map. This is on the German side:-

Remembrance Tree Map

The lines were unbelievably close at this point – the width of the Menin Road. You can see another remembrance tree marking the British Line just the other side of the road, above the middle of the road’s white centre line:-

Remembrance tree

Menin Road South Cemetery

The cemetery is well inside the boundaries of Ypres/Ieper and lies on the edge of the Menin Road. It contains the remains of 1,657 soldiers of whom 118 are unidentified but 24 of these are known or believed to be buried here.

Menin Road South Cemetery

This view from the east shows the Stone of Remembrance, the Cross of Sacrifice and (at the western end) the shelter building containing the cemetery register:-

Menin Road South Cemetery, View from West

Art Deco in Ypres

I didn’t expect to find Art Deco buildings in Ypres but what else can you call this?

Art Deco House Ypres

It was on the Menin Road inside the city limits. And it wasn’t alone; the building below was on the opposite side of the road a bit further in.

Art Deco Building, Ypres

Once I’d started looking I found deco styling quite easily:-

Art Deco House, Ypres

This is the above building’s doorway. Good ironwork here too:-

Art Deco, Doorway, Ypres

Nearer the outskirts but still on the Menin Road was this brick building:-

Art Deco in Brick, Ypres

Close-up on the doorway:-

Art Deco, Brick Doorway, Ypres

On the Menin Road on the way in to town from our hotel was this. We didn’t have time to visit the museum it houses; there were too many others:-

Art Deco Building, Ypres

Away Days

My most recent posts have been rather focused on photographs. This is because I’ve been away. Myself and the good lady have been in The Netherlands again and this time also in Belgium.

We drove down through England (and back up again) to and from the ferry and through the Netherlands and Belgium top to bottom and back. I’m a bit knackered.

But…… I have seen Ypres (nowadays spelled Ieper) and the Menin Gate where we witnessed the nightly Last Post. We walked along the Menin Road, a place I had only ever read about or seen in photographs in a shell shattered state, passing Hellfire Corner on the way.

The hotel we stayed in was right beside the Hooghe Crater and across the Menin Road from the Hooge Crater Commonwealth War Cemetery (note the British spelling.) Right by the hotel there was an open air Great War Museum which encompassed the crater and some trench remnants. The Front Line straddled that part of the Menin Road from 1915-1917. Hooghe was where the first use of flame throwers in a concerted action took place when the Germans made an attack on July 30th 1915. The trenches were apparently only 4.5 metres (4.9 yards) apart there. The flamethrower’s maximum range was 18 metres (20 yards.)

Strange to think I slept only a few more metres away from the spot. It’s all so peaceful there now but reminders of that war are everywhere as the area is covered in War Cemeteries and Memorial sites – too many for us to visit them all.

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