Polygon Wood, Ypres
A beautiful Wood, but with much history and many secrets
A dog fight above Zonnebeke just North West of Polygon Wood
Throughout World War 1, Polygon Wood saw much, too much, destruction and loss of life.
Before the War started, the Butte at the northern most part of the wood was used by the Belgium Army as a practice area. Being on relatively flat ground, this made a it a perfect position for one of the two sides to hold, the problem at the beginning though was, there was a large beautiful wood in the way from the South.
After intense fighting during the first battle of Ypres in 1914, the Wood changed hands a few times, but eventually the Germans held it, fortified the Butte with artillary, dug themselves in below and, built Pillboxes within the Wood (or where the wood had been).
In September 1917, the Australian 5th. Division were commanded to take the Wood. Co-inciding with the third battle of Ypres (Paschendale), they threw all they had and after taking heavy losses, took it for the Allies.
After the WW1, the Butte was re-structured and now gives the staging for the Australian Memorial. Also there is a memorial for the New Zealand Troops who had also played a major part of the final victory.
Trees were replanted in the area and it is has now become a beautiful dense wood with many riding and walking tracks through it. There are three German Pillboxes still there. The easiest to find is by taking the main centre track from the Memorial southwards. About 200 meters down, you'll see a wired walkway going to the right. It's about 20 meters down there (see picture).
Even with all the re-growth and serenity of the wood, you can still make out potholes, tops of trenches and many concrete pieces scattered around.Accross the road is the British Cemetery (second picture down). I will repeatably say it, but these places are kept in amazing order and it is a credit to all the workers who look after them. They may have lost their lives in a mess of mud and filth, but they rest in peace surrounded by natural life Most WW1Battlefield Tour Companies visit Polygon Wood as part of their itinery.. If the weather is right and you have a whole day to spend, I would suggest starting at Tyne Cot, visiting the Museum at Zonnebeke and finishing off your day at Polygon Wood when it's a little quieter and you can grasp the atmosphere more. At the going down of the sun.