Tyne Cot and Passchendaele
The Battle and the Cemetery, a very costly victory
In 1917, it was the plan of General Haig to break through the Flanders stalemate and make an advance to the coastline where Germany kept their Submarines. It is said that Prime Minister Lloyd George was against the plan as it would obviously cause large casualties and lower the morale of those back home. However, Haig won the day and Lloyd George agreed.
A huge bombardment offensive was made in October onto the town of Passchendale, but was not immediately followed up with an expected attack. The Germans held their ground and the battle went into it's second stage of short sharp moves forward.
Finally, after much chaos and blame passed between the Generals, the Allies finally took the Village. The German Army rebuilt and attempted to regain Passchendaele in March 1918, but failed to do so.
It is estimated that between the two sides, over 500,000 were lost. The Allies had gained five miles. Although the casualties exceeded all expectations, it was to many seen as 'the start of the end'.
Tyne Cot Cemetery
Visiting Tyne Cot Cemetery is a must for those visiting WW1 Battlefields in the Ypres area.
The cemetery is the largest of it's kind in the World with 11,952 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried there, of which, 8,365 are unidentified.
Upon entering the Cemetery from the Car Park, you walk along a path where you can hear the rather eerie speakers reading out the names of those known to be buried there. You walk around the side and enter the Cemetery from the gate at the bottom.
The enormity of it all is hard to take in, but in a strange way is offset by the beauty of it and how it is managed by the War Graves Commission.
The Memorial building at the top with more names inscribed was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. Standing there and looking toward Ypres, you can see the importance of Passchendaele to an Army, the views are extensive, yet extremely hard to imagine how it was then, just mud and war for five or six miles or so.
At the top of the Cemetery is a modern building housing a small, but extremely good Exhibition.
The Paschendale 1917 Museum
The Museum (voted History Museum of the Year in Belgium) is actually in the centre of Zonnebeke village and right behind the Church.
Like all the other Museums in the area, there are many artefacts and stories of WW1, but the highlights the re-construction of an underground Headquarters.
You will see various rooms such as the Blacksmith's, Gun Repair Shop, Bedrooms and Officers Rooms etc.
Note that in Belgium, ANYONE under the age of 25 pays only 1euro Museum Entrance Fees.