Visiting WW1 Battlefields, Ypres

Touring the historic Battlefields, Trenches and Cemeteries of WW1 - As it is today

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WW1 Relics in fields around Ypres

Farmers have a full time job watching where they plough

WW1 Shells found in fields at Ypres
Leo and our B&B host Patrick with 4 unexploded bombs found by a Farmer the previous day (between Hill 62 and the Menin Road)

It is estimated that between 1914 and 1918, over 1.5 BILLION shells were fired on the Flanders Battlefields. It is therefore no wonder that even almost a hundred years later, local folk and farmers tread and garden carefully.

But it isn't they need to be disturbed. After heavy rain, shells will find their way to the surface and almost daily, Farmers will stack these in a dedicated place on the roadsides beside their Farmland.
Then on a weekly basis, the Belgium Bomb Disposal Unit will drive around collecting them to make safe any at their special Units spread around the Country.

In recent years, Villages have been evacuated when underground stocks of Mustard Gas have been found,, being as powerfully fatal as they were back then.
Just after the end of WW1, people were killed when the summer heat caused leakages to Poisonous Gas canisters and there is certain to be many more of these still buried and slowly returning to the surface.

The Belgium Army Bomb Disposal used to dispose anything found into the Sea, but they are now, either un-armed or exploded in safe conditions. Mustard Gas Shells is a far more dangerous operation and are now dismantled using computerized equipment, said to cost millions.

The final sad story of this is that beside bombs rising to the surface, so do human remains, over 90,000 Allied servicemen are still unaccounted for.

The Belgium Army is also responsible for collection of these and to notify the Imperial War Graves Commission according who may by some luck of chance identify them. If not, they are buried in an appropriate Military Cemetery in that area.

So, The Great War is something which will not simply be a chapter in a history book, a visit to Battlefields etc. It is something which will last forever and with great regret, could even take human life.

               

 


Recently dug out at Hill 62

WW1 Battlefields
Ypres, Belgium

The idea that a war can be won by standing on the defensive and waiting for the enemy to attack is a dangerous fallacy, which owes its inception to the desire to evade the price of victory".

Further, a defensive policy involves the loss of the initiative, with all the consequent disadvantages to the defender.

Obviously, the greater the length of a war the higher is likely to be the number of casualties in it on either side"
Douglas Haig