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Ypres Salient Tour Descriptor Notes  Back to Tour Map

4. New Zealand Memorial, Gravenstafel:

After the war it was the wish of New Zealand that their memorials should be situated as near to the scene of the action it represents as possible. This is why the names of their “missing” are always located separately from the rest of the Empire. The standard obelisk type memorial at Gravenstafel marks the famous battle of Broodseinde on the 4th October 1917 when the Kiwis advanced on the left of the Australian 3rd and 2nd Divisions. After eight weeks of fighting the success in taking the German front line on the Broodseinde Ridge (now Tyne Cot cemetery) was – despite tremendous losses – a notable fillip to moral, driving the Germans back to their fortified lines at Passchendaele. From Gravenstafel, Passchendaele can be walked in 30 minutes: in 1917 it took the troops four and a half weeks!

5. Tyne Cot cemetery:

This is the largest British military cemetery in the world containing 11,871 burials with 35,000 names listed as “missing” on the Herbert Baker crescent shaped wall. The burials not only symbolically represents the whole of the Third Ypres campaign, but also reveal the intense horror of the battles since two out of three headstones have no name. Rudyard Kipling words on such headstones “Known unto God” sadly reflects their enduring memory but also represents the ultimate sacrifice by soldiers faithfully carrying out the orders of the General Staff.

In the three and a half months of the campaign 77,000 soldiers died and the final battle for Passchendaele petered out on the 10th November 1917. Sadly, just five months later in April 1918, all territorial gains were given up and the British and French armies pulled back to roughly where they had started in July 1917.

Within the cemetery are buried three Victoria Cross awards and three more are listed with the names of the missing. The cemetery stands on the German front line called “Flandern1 Stellung” and two large German Blockhouses have been preserved to the front of the cemetery whilst the remains of another can be discerned beneath the Reginald Blomfield Cross of Sacrifice. Visiting this cemetery is always humbling, but to many, it raises fundamental questions regarding the competency of leadership during this campaign.

6. Sanctuary Wood trenches and museum:

Often referred to as Hill 62 the trenches here are probably the most vivid example of excavated trenches in the whole of the Western Front. The site was first opened in 1923 and still remains with the original family. The trenches were second line Canadian trenches, and faced uphill towards the Canadian Memorial. The major battle they represent was the Battle of Mount Sorrel 1916.

The debris and war memorabilia surrounding the trenches is impressive and visitors can not only walk in the trenches but also explore a Sap tunnel leading towards the front line. Over the years the adjacent museum has grown up and its ruggedness and lack of neat descriptions for hundreds of artefacts, adds to the character of the whole establishment. In particular, the museum contains unique black and white photographs of the war in stereo form. These are French photographs from the 1920’s and are a must to view.

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