I headed out to the battle sites. First was Passchendaele. Take the 94 bus for €2. There’s a good museum.
Helmet development during the warDress and equipment at the start of the warGas masks
Aside from all the relics they have a good amount of information about the tactics of the battles.
Dress by 1918. Compare to the above
The main draw is the reconstructed dugout. Althought it uses mannequins it’s done very well, with sound and lighting effects.
Sleeping area. You can go right in
From town there is a path to walk along the Australian axis of advance from October 1917. However finding the start is a faff and not in any of the tourism brochures. From the museum head back out the gate by the bus stop. Follow this road straight ahead. You should pass a supermarket. Keep going. On the left should be an old railway building with a cycle path next to it. This is the track. It has information panels along it.
The track as it is todayIn 1917Remains of a German pillbox. If you see concrete on the Western Front it is GermanPart of the old supply railway
The path finishes at Tyne Cot.
The largest Commonwealth cemetary in the world.
I paused here for a moment.
I took the bus back to Ieper (it stops on the main road near the cemetary) and rented a bicycle. A note to bike rental places – get some good bikes! The ergonomics were made for pedalling your baguette 50m back to your house, and are not good for longer-distance riding. I headed south to Messines (Mesen).
The New Zealand Memorial.
In July 1917 the New Zealanders captured this ridge and advanced 2000 yards. Losses were heavy.
View back from the memorial, to where the NZ Div came fromRemains of a pillbox near the memorial
There was absolutely noone about, except a man watching some road works. I couldn’t find the cemetary – unusual, because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission signs are more common around here that street signs. I went to the museum but it was shut, so tried my luck at the library. There were no patrons. The lubrarian gave me a map and some confused explanation. I headed back out.
Church where Hitler was treated. Note the street sign - Rue FeatherstonMemorial to the New Zealanders whose resting places are known unto God
I found him.
Half a world awayThe rest of the cemetary
I paused for some more reflection.
I headed to Hill 62. The trenches here are behind a tacky private museum, and cost €10 to enter. I didn’t, having spent time in a trench for free.
Dinner was hotter this time (tin of ravioli), but I used up the tube – €4 for 2 dinners!