The Capper Nomads Europe Adventure travel blog

The Ljzertoren

Looking through the Pax Gateway

The crypt

The Pax Gateway

West Flanders

Panorama of what it was like

Another view around

Diksmuida

Looking down

View around

The Dodengang

The trench

Canadian War Memorial

At Tyne Cot

Graves

Graves and the Memorial to the Missing

The unknown soldiers

The river from the gate

Ieper cathedral

Lakenhalle

Another view of the Lakenhalle

Menin Gate

Looking the other way at the ramparts

Names inside the Menin Gate


After a quiet day we decided we would head down towards Ieper or Ypres and explore the area of the Flanders Fields the area of the World War I battlefields. Our first stop was the town of Diksmuide which sits on the banks of the River Ijzer. The river acted as the frontline for four years during the Great War. The impact on the town was devastating , the town being shelled to pieces. Painstakingly it was rebuilt in the 1920s.

Dominating the skyline of Diksmuide is The Ijzertoren a massive war memorial and museum. The massive tower 84m high is the highest piece monument in Europe. This was not the original tower as the first one was blown up in 1946 in mysterious circumstances. The towers bears the letters AVV-VVK Alles Voor Vlaanderen-Vlaanderen voor Kristus (All for Flanders-Flanders for Christ). In addition to the tower there are a couple of other memorials. The Pax gateway was built in 1950 from the rubble of the original tower. There is also a crypt holding the gravestones of a number of Belgian soldiers.

The tower had a lift that took us up to the top which gave views over the West Flanders landscape and also had a panoramic picture of how the area would have looked like around WW1. We then walked down the tower through the museum and the story of the area and how differently the Flemish speaking and French speaking soldiers were treated. Our final stop was the recreated trenches.

Just north of Diksmuide on the west bank of the river was a more poignant reminder of WW1 – the Dodengang or Trench of Death. Here we were able to see about 400m of a WW1 trench although the original sandbags had been replaced by concrete imitations and the ground was now gravel but it gave an impression. This part of the trench line was held by the Belgians throughout the war.

From here we headed through the back roads of the Ypres Salient near Passendale to an even more poignant bloodshed of WW1 –Tyne Cot. Tyne Cot is the largest British Commonwealth war cemetery in the world containing nearly 12,000 graves and a Memorial to the Missing listing a further 35,000 names whose bodies were never recovered. The futility of war is clearly demonstrated by the endless lines of tombstones and the list of names and ages. A whole generation of men lost for no real reason.

Our final stop was Ieper or Ypres. Like Diksmuide Ieper was shelled to pieces and rebuilt after the war although walking through the town you feel the town is much older. The main buildings of the town square are the Lakenhalle (old cloth hall as Ieper was a major cloth town in the 13th and the cathedral. The other major edifice is the Menin Gate situated on the site of the old Menenport, which served as the main route for British soldiers heading to the front. The gate was built by the British Government and at the time was very controversial as the Belgians were in need of money to rebuild their towns and cities destroyed by the war and many veterans felt it was inappropriate monument to the fallen soldiers. The walls of the gate are covered with over 50,00o British and Commonwealth troops who died in the Ypres Salient and had no grave.

Although a sobering day we were glad we had explored the area.



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