Planning to take your class on a History school trip to the First World War Battlefields of Flanders? You might consider visiting some of these locations. For further details, visit http://www.schooltours.co.uk/ypres-messines-passchendaele.html.
1. Gheluvelt: The Gheluvelt Plateau was an area of high ground to the south-east of Ypres. The charge of the 2nd Worcesters at a crucial stage of the First battle of Ypres in 1914 prevented the Germans breaking through and gave the BEF enough respite to stabilise its defensive line.
2. Langemark German Cemetery: The Kameradengrab (mass grave) and the Alter Friedhof (old cemetery) hold the remains of more than 44,000 German soldiers. The casualties of the Student Battalions who encountered the professionals of the British Expeditionary Force during the First battle of Ypres are commemorated in an alcove by the entrance.
3. Pilckem Ridge: Pilckem was the scene of the first German Gas Attack in April 1915 during the opening phase of the Second battle of Ypres. A Memorial to the French and Algerian troops who died here marks this place. The Germans failed to press home their advantage before the breach was filled by the Canadians.
4. Essex Farm: During the Second battle of Ypres, the Canadian army surgeon John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields” here in 1915. The site of an Advanced Dressing Station, the surgeons’ dug-outs, protected by the canal bank, can still be seen. The second youngest British casualty of the war, Private Strudwick is buried here. Private Barratt VC is also buried at Essex Farm.
5. The Menin Road and Hellfire Corner: The Menin Road was one of the main approaches for troops going up to the front. “Hellfire Corner” was so-called because, as a major junction, it was one of the most frequently-shelled places on Earth. A Demarcation Stone near the modern roundabout marks the high-watermark of the German advance in 1918.
6. Memorial Museum Passchendaele (MMP 1917): This museum has interpretative displays, an audio-visual presentation of the battle of Passchendaele, recreated British and German trenches and a ‘dug-out experience’ offering a glimpse into life underground. The displays relating to gas warfare show the evolution the methods of delivery from gas cylinders to gas shells as well as the development of gas masks as a counter-measure.
7. The Menin Gate: Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, the Menin Gate commemorates 55,000 Missing of the Ypres Salient. Inaugurated in 1927, it was the first Memorial to the Missing completed by the (then) Imperial War Graves Commission. The Last Post is sounded every evening at 20.00 hours in a ceremony commemorating the fallen of the Salient.
8. Dochy Farm: Dochy Farm, offers an excellent view of Passchendaele Ridge and the ground crossed by ANZAC troops on 4th October 1917. The present-day farms have been rebuilt on the site of the original buildings which were heavily fortified by the Germans.
9. Passchendaele Ridge and Tyne Cot Cemetery: Tyne Cot stands on the forward slope of Passchendaele Ridge where the Germans sited their Flanders I Line. There are nearly 12,000 graves; nearly two-thirds unknown. The names of 35,000 missing are recorded on the panels at the rear. A Visitor Centre offers excellent views towards Ypres and across the Passchendaele battlefield.
10. Messines Ridge and Spanbroekmolen: Spanbroekmolen was the site of the largest of the Messines mines. On the 7th June 1917, nineteen mines were detonated in rapid succession under the German front line, blowing the ridge apart. The whole sequence lasted little more than thirty seconds.