Friday 18 January 2013

Far far from Ypres!


Each year I am allowed to organise a school-trip to the Ypres area. IIt's awesome to go there with 100 odd pupils and see how the madness of the Great War sinks in when we visit Tyne Cot cemetery. The Netherlands remained neutral during the conflict and so the history of the Great War is not very well known to the larger audience. The German occupation during the Second World War has made a very big and lasting impact on the Dutch National Conscience and has reduced the First World War to just one of the causes of the Second World War.
That's why we visit it: to make it more known what happened in the Trenches and in the Deserts and other battlegrounds of the Great War. We have a very enthusiastic group of teachers who pull this cart, with me in the fore.

Last Wednesday me and friend and co-worker Jos, went to prepare the visit as we do each year. This time we were able to visit more secluded spots we had not previously visited before. Places we sadly will not visit with the pupils because they are too far out of the practical route but very interesting nevertheless.

First we went to the small hamlet of Zandvoorde (near Zonnebeeke) where local amateur archaeologists have excavated a German Command bunker and made it accessible to the public. It's super and... totally for free!

I've made loads of detail shots in case I want to recreate it in scale one day

The bunker was build by the 27th Armierungs Battaljon.

Next up we went to Wijtschaete we\here another couple of bunkers are situated. According to a book I own about bunkers and pill boxes on the Western Front these have been build as New Zealand HMG nests. The bunkers were not accessible but there was a "small" cemetery located near. It's in the middle of nowhere and therefore we guessed not many visitors would come and pay their respects. As such we went up the field of honour and duly paid our sincerest respect.

Smack in the middle of the Ypres industrial park is the Yorkshire trench and dug out located. These were uncovered when the grounds were prepared for building more industrial stuff but locals called The Diggers, prevented this and restored the dug out and trench system. Sadly the dug-outs are not properly drained, and had filled with water when we attended.

Cheers Sander

 Listening to: "Far far from Wipers" collected songs from the trenches several artists