woensdag 18 augustus 2010

Event: Happy day out, WWI Ypres/Ieper Part 2

This is the sequel, and last part, of the Happy day out to Ypres.

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We got on our way to Passchendaele, the place where the battle with the most casualties around Ypres took place. On route, we wanted to make a stop at the s'Graventafel bunker and the New Zealand Memorial, but they were closed for maintenance. So we drived on to Passchendaele.

From Ypres to Passchendaele

Arrived around 16:00 at the Memorial museum Passchendaele 1917 in Passchendaele (of course).

The new and the classic Mini in Passchendaele

Around Passchendaele were the biggest battles of Ypres, at least there were the most casualties. The scale of the destruction in and around Passchendaele is best to be seen with the aerial photographs shown below.

Passchendaele before and after the battle (photo from wikipedia)

The entrance to the museum is through a small gate. If you don't know it's there you could easily miss it. Look's nice though.

the entrance to the museum

Not there yet, it's a 5-10 minute walk through a park to the museum .

a walk through the park

The museum is a relatively small timber and stone building, but it has quite some room in it (including a cellar). Below is the only photo I made....

The museum

The museum has some interesting equipment and uniforms, quite an interesting collection actually. I won't post them all, because that could ruin your future visit.


What I liked in this museum was the clarity and accessibility of the information. This museum is one of the better museums in that regard. Below an example, on different locations on progress in the museum there are a total of 7 very clear maps reporting about the progress of the battle.


And ofcourse enough examples of life at the front.

German dugout

Machine gun

There are also two big overviews of the complete battlefornt in the area.

The battlefront in the area

The pathway leads you along a machine gun position into the dugout (in the cellar of the museum) where you can get a tiny part of the experience of life in a dugout (except for the flies, the scent of blood, mud and cordite and the noise). There is of course more to see than the photo's show, but then you would have to go there yourself.

The machine gun that marks the entrance to the dugout

Going down.....

The office


Field hospital (with badly wounded casualty)

I can say it was an impressive tour, to be honest, I wouldn't like to be in the shoes of the men that actually have been in that area in the war.
After a while (30-60 minutes) we found the way up, once above the guys had to get rid of the impressions and tension build up during the experience below..... and quite strange things started to happen...

When this guy got out of the dugout, he wanted to shake hands with some plumbing......
Lobotomized in the field hospital below I guess....

And I still wonder what these guys were doing down below....or maybe it is better not to know.
"I need to kill !...... It hurts so bad !!
 Yeah....a boner.....
again !"
".....will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me..."  

I believe the next guy is innocent.....but I'm not totally sure.

"Helloooooo, I'm so cute !"

Well, after hanging out in the many hallways of the museum, we finally got out. Seeing the sun again was good for some guys and bad for other. I wonder....is a lobotomy actually a permanent thing ?

Will it fit or will it hurt ?

After the tour there's a good place to come to oneself, a nice peaceful pond. (well, maybe not with the guys I was travelling...)

A nice, peaceful, pond

Guy on the left: "It's really a nice pond"
Guy on the right: "Look, it fits !"

After a short break, we would go on our way to the next visit. Most of us had a richer experience, and one of us a lobotomy and a shell....
The next visit would be to Domino, a modelling shop at the 'Zwarte berg' or 'Mont noir', in english, the 'Black mountain', I haven't investigated the source of the name, but I don't think it would be a blessed source.

From Passchendaele to the Black mountain

The black mountain was for a part in France (the parking lot actually). One guy isn't quite fond of the French, he swore to buy new shoes and new tyres for his car because they were 'contaminated'. And, to his luck, all the shops in town were open and there was a market. I bet you can guess from which country almost all the visitors came.....indeed.....France. The guy had a field day !

A view of the peace and quit on the Black mountain

I can say that Domino has a great range of miniatures and very large range of plastic scale models, I haven't seen such a large collection in a shop for years. The store is worth a visit, take a look on the site (which isn't as impressive as the store): http://www.domino.be/

After buying some things a gamer doesn't need, but are quite cool, we got quite hungry. So, first we had to get out of France and find a nice Belgian restaurant which would serve nice Belgian beers.
We found one around 19:00 in Loker, called "D'Hellekapelle", which means "Hell's chapel". It seemed to us that beer would certainly be on the menu !

From somewhere in France to Loker

In "D'Hellekapelle" there was a little brawl about who got the best seat. The restaurant is cozy and the environment was quit and peaceful. Whe had to wait a short while for the beer, and a little bit longer for the food. When the meat was on the table we got duly relaxed. One guy wrecked the toilet in the restaurant....he had to do a big message and supposedly did forget about the shell that was still in his....uhm....body..
(I can't even imagine that you could forget such a thing )

You're on my seat !

Nice !

Meat is back on the menu boys !

Around 21:30 we were finished with the meal (and desert) and it was time to go home. Well, it's a long way when you're full an tired.

The road home

My passenger: "Hey, look at that small car !"

We were home around 01:00. It was a nice, exhausting day out.
On the battlefields of the Great War there is more to be seen, but what we did was enough for one day. It was impressive, and more than once the shivers went down my spine. I can recommend a visit to the Belgium museums of the Great War, you can get a little feeling of how it really was, but I still cannot comprehend the scale of the horrors that took place.
We also had quite some fun, what I think is a good thing when you come totally depressed out of a museum....

Well, until next time !