During the First World War Ypres, or ‘Wipers’ to the troops, became symbolic of the commitment of Britain to its wartime ally Belgium and defiance to the Germans. Death was never far away in Ypres. It was almost surrounded on three sides as the front line pushed out to the base of the low ridges surrounding it. The town was continually fought over and always subject to shellfire, yet it never fell to the Germans. The British stubbornly refused to give the town up despite dreadful casualty figures.
Each of the significant battles for, and around, Ypres has its own characteristics. On this visit we will consider each, and provide an understanding of their significance and context. After the war, Ypres was rebuilt and re-named Ieper. Today the whole area resonates with the place names of famous battlegrounds. Our itinerary includes, amongst others, visits to:
The Menin Gate, inscribed with the names of over 54,000 names of the missing. This memorial is the nightly scene of the local fire brigade movingly playing the last post.
Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British military cemetery, containing over 11,000 graves and listing on memorial plaques nearly 35,000 names of the missing. The cemetery contains two German bunkers which reminded troops from Northumberland of cottages at home, hence giving the cemetery its name.
Hill 60, which is indicative particularly of tunnel warfare in the area during the war.
Vancouver Corner, where we recount the story of the second battle of Ypres, and how the Germans unleashed Chlorine Gas upon the Allied forces for the first time. The ensuing gap in the line was plugged by the Canadians, but at a terrible cost in dead and wounded.
Essex Farm Dressing Station, where John McCrae wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, and where one of the youngest British soldier victims of the war is buried.
Messines Ridge and the craters of the massive mines that still scar the landscape. Here Plumer’s forces were amazingly successful in achieving their objectives in the prelude to the battle of Passchendaele, or 3rd Ypres. After the war, Plumer was made Lord Plumer of Messines.
Gheluvelt, the scene of a famous charge by the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment on 31 October 1914, under the orders of Brigadier-General FitzClarence, VC, of the 1st Guards Brigade.
Talbot House, in Poperinge, and the sanctuary provided to the troops through the actions of the chaplain, Reverend ‘Tubby’ Clayton. Here we will contemplate life for the soldiers when out of the front line.
The grave of double VC winner Captain Noel Chavasse, Medical Officer to the 1st Battalion, Liverpool Scottish, at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery.
Menin Road, and the concept of the ‘bite and hold’ approach to attack in the battle of Passchendaele (3rd Ypres)
Our Ypres battlefield tours promise to increase your understanding of the First World War, and provide rewarding and thought provoking experiences. Click here to book your tour of the Ypres Salient today.