ZANDVOORDE and ZILLEBEKE

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zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

zandvoorde

hill 60

hill 60

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

Shrewsbury Forest

The village of Zandvoorde lies on high ground to the southeast of Ypres. This site made it of strategic importance in the fighting of 1914 in an effort to dominate the land around Ypres. The German forces succeeded in taking the village at the end of October. This gave them control of the southern side of the Ypres Salient. Apart from the memorials and the restored German bunker Zandvoorde is now a modern village in the heart of an agricultural area. Many of the buildings are of recent design and some expansion continues but this is common to many villages close to larger towns. The village shows, as with the whole area, that people continue their lives in a modern world and although there is a need to understand and respect the history communities must be allowed to continue to develop and not be stifled by that history.

On 31st October 1914 the British Household Cavalry Brigade defended the village of Zandvoorde against overwhelming German opposition. Inevitably the position fell and remained in German hands for most of the war. The images of the screen of trees were made at the position occupied by Lt. Lord Worsley who died here commanding a British machine-gun position. His body was discovered after the action by Oberleutnant Freiherr von Prankh, a cavalry officer and member of the nobility like him. Von Prankh took Worsley's personal effects intending to forward them to his relatives but was himself killed a few days later. A map of the burial site did, however, reach Worsley's relatives after the war and his wife purchased the site. The Household Division Memorial was erected on the site, immediately behind my camera.

A restored German bunker lies beside the road to Ten Brielen to the southeast of Zandvoorde. Originally built in 1916 the bunker has six chambers and was cleared out by local volunteers in 1988. It still shows the original ground cover which is often missing on other surviving bunkers.

Zillebeke is just to the southeast of Ypres and rises up to the ridge at Hill 60. This 'hill' was formed by material removed during the construction of the nearby railway cutting. The Germans captured the ridge in 1914 and used it as a viewpoint for artillery spotters looking directly into Ypres. As a result it was subject to almost constant fighting as the British tried to depose them, and deny them this view.

While there was the usual surface fighting from shell-hole to shell-hole, a lot of the fighting was underground. Both sides dug mines and counter-mines laying explosive charges to literally blow away the opposition. The biggest mines here were exploded during the first day of the Battle of Messines in July 1917. During a few minutes the British exploded nineteen enormous underground mines between St. Eloi and Ploegsteert. Hill 60 exploded and destroyed the Germans complete with their bunkers. The bunkers still remain, lying in shattered pieces where they fell that morning. The whole hill is now a War Monument and War Grave as so many men vanished here and still lie underground. The craters may have been softened by the grazing of sheep but they are still clearly visible and are a clear demonstration of the power of these huge mines.

"Shrewsbury Forest", as it was known by the British, lies just a few kilometres from Hill 60 and was also the scene of constant fighting throughout the war. Several German bunkers may be seen in the trees, most lie shattered by the attentions of British artillery and again are clear evidence of the violence that occurred in this now quiet forest. Although totally devastated by the fighting around Ypres the area has been replanted and is now called Passendaleveld.

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