Thursday, April 22, 2010
Cemetery and Battlefield Day
Today was a day full of Bqttlefields and cemeteries:
The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we explored the Australian battlefields in the Salient, places where the Anzacs made history in 1917.
The first stop will be the Passchendaele Museum which features a recreated British dugout. We will then visit the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood and see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan's and Michael Molkentin's documentary Lost in Flanders. We are going to watch the doco tomorrow and I have already arranged for the Library to get a copy.
Lunch is included at Cafe de Dreve, where the owner, Johan Vandewalle, told us about his discovery of the bodies of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder in a Belgian field. This was a remarkably moving time and he has plans for a memorial.
We then got a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world's largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Tyne Cot sits in the heart of one of the most horrific battlefields of the war - Passchendaele.
The final stop today was at the German Cemetery at Langemarck, where we will learnt about the men on the other side of the line. This was so different to our cemeteries and memorials. Very sombre and austere - even drab and dark!
Zonnebeke Museum, Passchendaele Website
Had dinner in Ypres before coming back to the hotel.