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Rye, East Sussex

Rye has a long history. It was once a seaport but the sea has long retreated/silted up.

The older part of the town lies on a hill above the coastal plain. One of the approaches still retains the ancient Landgate:-

Landgate, Rye

Closer view:-

Rye Gates, East Sussex

View down towards gate from higher up the hill:-

The Landgate, Rye, East Sussex

Another very old building is the Ypres Tower/Rye Castle which now houses a museum. The tower has nothing to do with the Belgian town of the same name. It once belonged to a cloth merchant, Jean d’Ypres, and the name has stuck.

Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

Ypres Tower, Rye

Ypres Tower, Rye, East Sussex

There is an old pair of stocks still standing just outside the east end of the Tower:-

Ypres Tower , (stocks), Rye, East Sussex

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

Girvan War Memorial

A tapering stone obelisk on a square plinth, this War Memorial stands on an expanse of grass by the side of the Firth of Clyde on the south approach to the town. This east facing side of the obelisk is inscribed Maubeuge, 1918, Cambrai, Flanders 1917, Arras.

Girvan War Memorial

North face. Column inscribed Somme, Loos, Ypres, Marne, Mons:-

Girvan War Memorial North Face

West (sea facing) aspect. Pedestal inscribed with the names of the naval actions at Zeebrugge, Jutland, Falkland, Coronel, Heligoland:-

Girvan War Memorial Sea Facing Aspect

South face. Inscribed for campaigns outside Europe: Palestine, Salonica, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Africa:-

Girvan War Memorial South Face

Great War plaque, “The tribute of the poeple of Girvan to those of her sons who gave their lives in defence of their country’s righteous cause in the Great War, 1914 – 1919”

Girvan War Memorial Great War  Plaque

World War 2 plaque, “The tribute of the people of Girvan to those of her sons who gave their lives in defence of their country’s righteous cause in the World-War 1939 – 1945.” Three additional names below:-

Girvan War Memorial, World War 2 Plaque

Gordon Highlanders Memorial, Peterhead

On Kirk Street, Peterhead.

A hexagonal column surmounted by pillars, with a pyramidal apex.

From north. Inscribed with the Gordon Highlanders Insignia and the names Festubert and Vimy Ridge. Great War Roll of Honour behind.

Gordon Highlanders Memorial, Peterhead

From west. Inscribed Somme, Beaumont-Hamel, Arras, Ypres, Cambrai:-

Peterhead, Gordon Highlanders Memorial

From east. Inscribed St Quentin, Merville, Scarpe, Soissons, Chievres:-

Gordon Highlanders Memorial, Peterhead from East

5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders Great War Roll of Honour, by side of Gordon Highlanders Memorial, Kirk Street, Peterhead:-

5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders Great War Roll of Honour, Peterhead

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.

Menin Gate Again

On our trip to Belgium and the Netherlands last year we again visited Ypres and I took more photos of the Menin Gate.

Menin Gate from west, bathed in early evening sunlight:-

Menin Gate from West

Menin Gate from Ypres ramparts:-

Menin Gate from ramparts

Menin Gate from street:-

Menin Gate from street

Moat from Menin Gate:-

Moat from Menin Gate, Ypres

Relief Map of Ypres, situated right by the Menin Gate, on the west side:-

Relief Map of Ypres

On approaching the Menin gate from the Menin Road I noticed two statues that had not been there the year before. It turned out these had originally been at the Gate but had been presented in 1936 to the Australian War Memorial in memory of the thousands of Australians who passed through the Gate during the Great War. They had been temporarily returned in April 2017 (till November 2017) to their original location.

Lion Statues at Menin Gate

Close up on one of the lions:-

Menin Gate Lion

Menin Gate Lions information board in four languages:-

Menin Gate Lions Information Board

The information in English:-

Menin Gate Lions Information

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

Poelcapelle War Cemetery, Flanders, Belgium

Poelcapelle is today spelled Poelkapelle. The village is a few miles north-east of Ypres (Ieper.) The British War Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) is by the N313 road from Bruges (Brugge) to Ypres.

Poelcapelle War Cemetery,  Belgium

I’ve been to Tyne Cot but nevertheless still gasped when I entered Poelcapelle Cemetery. There are nearly 7,500 burials here, the vast majority, 6,230, of which are “Known unto God”.

View of interior from entrance:-

Interior of Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Graves:-

Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Some of the unidentified soldiers of the Great War:-

War Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Lines of graves:-

Lines of Graves, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance:-

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Memorial to some of those whose earlier graves were destroyed in later battles:-

Memorial Stone, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

As usual the graves are beautifully kept. A Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God and Private F J Patten, Hampshire Regiment, 4/10/17, aged 21:-

Planting, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Two Soldiers of the Great War:-

More Planting, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

There is one World War 2 grave at Poelcapelle. Private R E Mills, Royal Berkshire Regiment, 30/5/1940, aged 19:

WW 2 Grave, Poelcapelle War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance:-

Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance Closer View

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