Behind the Lines - Poperinge
A town used as a retreat from the Front line Trenches
Poperinge is a typically Belgium town some 6 miles to the west of Ypres.
Because of it's position, this made it an ideal place for the Allied Forces to not only set up various Headquarters, but use the town for it's Railway Station and for Troops to have their leave and retreats from the Front Line.
During World War One the town was a height of activity, you'd have seen men with smiling faces going home on the trains and men with apprehensive and fearful faces arriving. You can imagine the thoughts of those arriving there for the first time and seeing the wounded being loaded up on the trains for treatment back in the UK and other places.
We have to remember that Troops serving in the Trenches were not there the whole time. In fact, some say that we had many an upper hand during World War One because we had a better Leave system and good postal arrangements to keep in touch with loved ones. It was typical that men would have one third of their time in the trenches, one third in the reserve lines and maintenance work etc. and one third 'on leave',. Around the Ypres Salient, Poperinge was an ideal position for this.
There are two major touring features in Poperinge........
Today, Poperinge is famous for it's Hop Fields and there is an extensive Museum dedicated to this. Indeed, Belgium Beers are renowned for being some of the best in the World.
There are Cafes and a few Shops in the Town Square next to the Town Hall and on most weekdays, parking is quite easy - and free.
It is well worth a visit and gives a real atmosphere for what things must have been like back in those troubled times.