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Ypres Salient Tour Descriptor Notes  Back to Tour Map

7. Hill 60:

Is an evocative site to visit since you are able to view a battlefield scene that since the end of the war, has not been built upon, where original shell craters and Pill-Boxes still dominate the site, where you can see the closeness of the German and British lines and view one of the most impressive mine crater in Flanders. Fighting took place here every year of the war, mining and counter-mining was a regular feature of warfare along with trench raids and the use of gas. It was here that gas was used for the first time against British troops. A short walk brings you to Caterpillar Crater, the result of one of the 19 mines detonated on the first day of the battle of Messines, June 7th 1917.

8. German Trenches, Bayenwald:

Here, in what amounts to just 10% of the original trench system you will find some 300 metres of German trenches, faithfully reconstructed with willow supports between the “A” frames and 4 German bunkers plus a rare mineshaft which goes to a depth of 17 metres. To reconstruct German trenches without using, in any way, concrete, makes this trench system unique on the Western front. Adolf Hitler saw action here.

9. Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater:

Now often called the “Pool of Peace” the crater is another example of the successful mining operations that took place here on the 7th June 1917. It is said that this one detonated 15secs late and some of the debris came down on the soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division who were already advancing towards Wytschaete. The crater is now owned by Talbot House in Poperinghe. On the crater rim is a German concrete bunker in which 4 Germans were found dead but unmarked.

10. Irish Peace Park:

The battle of Messines was the first time the 36th Ulster northern Irish Division and the 16th southern Irish Division fought side by side in the taking of Wytschaete. With the strong association that the Ridge has always had with Ireland a Peace Park was built to remember and symbolise all Irishmen who fought and who died in the war. The 110 feet high tower is in the traditional design of an Irish Round Tower is partially built with stone from a former British Army barracks in Tipperary, the remainder of the stone from a work-house outside Mullingar, County Westmeath.

The design has a unique aspect that allows the sun to only illuminate the interior on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the anniversary of the armistice that ended the war and the time for the minute's silence on Remembrance Day.

The tower was unveiled after an 11am service on 11 November 1998 by President Mary McAleese of Ireland, HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth Realms and King Albert II of Belgium.
In her speech, President McAleese said:

"Today’s ceremony at the Peace Park was not just another journey down a well-travelled path. For much of the past eighty years, the very idea of such a ceremony would probably have been unthinkable. Those whom we commemorate here were doubly tragic. They fell victim to a war against oppression in Europe. Their memory too fell victim to a war for independence at home in Ireland."

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