Belgium
Ieper

Here you’ll find travel reports about Ieper. Discover travel destinations in Belgium of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

23 travelers at this place:

  • Day7

    Bedford House Cemetery - Charles Duncan

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    And the final war memorial of this trip was to Bedford House Cemetery where my grandfather's brother is buried. Charles Duncan was killed at age 21. His and the other 3 soldiers he was fighting with had their remains exhumed and moved to this location.

    Of the 5,075 soldiers buried here, 275 are Australia and my great uncle is among those. He is buried in Enclosure 4 and with nothing more than that information, it took some time to find him. Kate placed a poppy on his grave and Craig had brought along the guitar so he played Amazing Grace. It had been so cold and windy as we were trying to find the grave, but then we sat down and the wind died down and the sun came out. The cemetery itself was beautiful. Charles has a great view in his final resting place!Read more

  • Day7

    Hill 60

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    Whistle stop to wander around Hill 60. The concrete bunker was used by both German and British Armies. This was another site riddled with underground tunnels which were used by both sides. They would try to dig close to the other side, listen in and once confirmed it was the enemy would set of explosives to try and cave in their tunnel network. The Australian soldiers were known to dig as low as 8 metres to try and get right under the Germans without detection - they would occasionally die from carbon monoxide poisoning or the tunnels would collapse.

    The site was purchased by a British family after the war in order to preserve it as is. There were so many fallen soldiers whose bodies had sunk into the mud during the battle that they could not be retrieved and buried properly.
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  • Day7

    Ypres and Menin Gate

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    We ended our foray into Flanders with dinner in Ypres and then the Last Post Ceremony which has been held under Menin Gate every night at 8pm since 1928 (save a few years of WWII) as the local way of honouring those who fell in WWI. People travel from around the world to attend, play or lay wreaths. On our visit we were lucky enough to witness an extended ceremony and hear the Norwich Pipe Band from the UK and a local bugle band of cadets of some sort. There were around 1,000 people attending which, for a ceremony that happens every night of the year regardless of the weather, is rather amazing.

    The kids were on the hunt for Belgium waffles afterward, but the places had either closed or sold out, so they had to settle for Belgium ice cream in a waffle cone instead.
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  • Day7

    Sanctuary Wood Museum (Hill 62)

    September 2, 2017 in Belgium

    We stopped here for a bit of fun for the kids. The farmer who owned this farm during WWI returned to his farm after the war to find it riddled with trenches as it had been the site of the battle at Hill 62 which was mostly a Canadian forces offensive. The museum at this farm is privately maintained by the grandson of the original farmer who elected to preserve a number of the trenches.

    So, the kids went wild! Apparently running around in here was like all their dreams had come true. Who knew we only needed to dig and connect some holes in the back yard! As could be expected in this part of the world though, it was muddy and wet and I get the impression that this is the norm. Light drizzly rain stops anything from drying out much. Kate said she didn't want to get trench foot. Through this place you can still see evidence of the craters formed by shells.Read more

  • Day513

    Ypres

    November 21, 2017 in Belgium

    After successfully taking Poppy to the vet at Tournai, we headed towards Ypres and the Flemish speaking area of Belgium. It had gone lunch time so we stopped along the way for our last trip to a Belgian frituur before returning to the UK. The standard of frites across the country really is excellent, Belgian expectations must be very exacting!

    As we drew closer to Ypres we passed a number of war cemeteries, their identical oblong or crucifix shaped gravestones standing erect in neat rows. Our parking place for the night was in a communal car park near a swimming pool, skate park and sports stadium. Regular groups of school kids trooped along on the other side of the hedge to access the facilities. Will met another British couple travelling in their motorhome who told him they used to park on the quiet residential street every time they came over from Calais, but now signs had been put up to prohibit this.

    Crossing a footbridge over the moat and ducking through a tunnel in the town wall we made our way up Ypres' narrow residential streets, lined with terraced houses of different types of brick. Grote Markt square suddenly revealed itself as we rounded a corner. We were taken aback by the large open space dominated by the towering Lakenhalle (Cloth Hall), that appeared rather like a massive cathedral with its sculpted stone facade and gothic steeples. It was really refreshing to see an old building of such grandeur that was built for something other than religious worship.

    The square was surrounded by tea rooms, bars, chocolate and souvenir shops. We'd not seen many poppies in the rest of Belgium, but there were plenty of them here, where so many tourists come to remember the war. They even had chocolate poppies. Despite having the feeling of a big city at its core, Ypres is only a large town. On streets leading away from the centre, the shops soon turn to homes or offices and we looped back to the compact central area several times.

    This being our last full day in Belgium, we were on a mission to buy chocolate amd Trappist beer to take home. Two chocolate shops standing side by side offered free tastings, so we sampled each and chose the better, where we happened to come accross a fellow Brit and an Australian couple standing in line. We found it a little strange to have so many people talking English as their first language, we hope we acclimatise quickly when we get back to the UK! The chocolatier was very friendly, as was the owner of the beer shop we visited, who helped us pick out some good bottles from their wide selection. She told us she had found the sudden deluge of customers around 11th November, then the quiet afterwards, difficult to deal with. We are glad we got to see the town in one of its subdued periods.

    Walking back to the van we passed Menin Gate, the large stone archway that bears the names of British and Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.

    We liked Ypres for its quiet square, magnificent Cloth Hall and the green belt of land running alongside its moat. We did however find its huge focus on the pointless loss of foreign lives a century ago, quashed organic local culture, which is one of the things we most enjoy experiencing when we travel.
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  • Day7

    Day Six

    July 19, 2016 in Belgium

    Today we started with a visit to Passchendaele. This town was involved in one of the battles for the Ypres Salient in 1917. This offensive involved British, Australian, New Zealand and Canadian troops. We went through the war museum which was very impressive. They had a great display of relics and you could actually walk through recreated trenches. I couldn't get over how narrow and small the trenches were, even in some underground trenches I had to crouch down to get through!
    After that we visited Hooge Crater Cemetery. Here we were told the story of Patrick Bugden. He recieved the VC for his continued heroic efforts during the battle of Polygon Wood in 1917. He used machine gun fire and grenade launches to clear the way for his fellow soldiers. In doing so he saved wounded soldiers and continued going back in until he was killed in action.
    Following this we walked through Polygon Wood. This area was one of the main offensives where the Australian 5th Division pushed back the Germans from Menin Road. Although this is a heavily wooded area now, it was totally cleared by heavy artillery in 1917. On the other side of the wood is a beautiful cemetery.
    In the afternoon we walked the craters and what is left of the tunnels at Hill 60. I was amazed at how small an area this is. In one spot the distance between the Allied front and the German front was only 25 steps! I walked it twice to measure it as i found it ridiculous that they were so close!
    Finally today we visited Langemark German Cemetery. It was really good to hear about the German side of the war. The cemetery itself has a dark and bleak outlook to it compared to the Allied cemeteries, which are bright and look like a cottage garden. The entrance has two small rooms attached where all the names of the German Student Reserve are listed. These students were recruited as German troops were being killed at an alarming rate. The problem was that these poor boys were not fully prepared for what awaited them. They were easily and quickly disposed of by the Allies. We were told that the room we stood in today was the exact same spot where Aldof Hitler laid a wreath in the 1940's. It was quite a freaky feeling to know that I had stood in the same place as him!
    💡Things I learnt today.....
    1. Aldof Hitler was a soldier in the German Army during the battles of the Ypres Salient and that the Allied soldiers had numerous chances to kill him, although he didn't have the same reputation then. Imagine how different history would have been🤔
    2. Although the summer temperature here is mid to high 20's, the humidity is a bitch!😥
    3. It is amazing how much laundry you can do in a bathroom sink. 👕👖👗
    4. Belgium has their own version of a 'Cruiser' drink called 'Finley'🍸
    5. How determined a German pilot named Werner Voss was.
    During 1917 when the Red Baron Manfred Von Richthofen was doing his thing, when he amassed 50 kills he was awarded the Knights Cross (German version of the VC). Voss decided that he too wanted the Knights Cross and set his goal to get 50 kills before he went on RnR. On his last day before leave he had 48 kills in the bank, but he was determined to get his last two. So he took to the skies again and came across five British planes. A heavy dog fight ensued, with Voss fully in control as his plane manouvoured more easily than the British planes. Voss finally defeated all five planes, but while he was preoccupied with these five planes he failed to notice the other ninety planes which were heading his way. He was shot down and killed. Maybe he should have called it a day?
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  • Day4

    Day Four

    July 16, 2016 in Belgium

    This morning we left Paris behind and started our trek to the north. Our historian Mike Peters, outlined what to expect over the next few days as we explore and pay our respects to the brave men who fought on the Western Front.
    First we visited the town of Riems, which is the home of G.H Mumm champagne🍾We did a tour of the premises and the underground caves where they make and store the champagne. Then we got to sample the product! Boy it went down real well. Pity it is so expensive! 💶💶💶💶💶💶💶💶💶💶
    We have made our way to the town of Ypres (pronounced 'eeps' or as the Aussie soldiers called it 'Wipers')in Belgium. It is a beautiful old tiny village with cobblestone laneways for roads and a large open plaza in the centre.
    We visited our first war cemetery 'Tincourt New British Cemetery', here we learnt about what each headstone can tell us and about the Commonwealth War Commission. Each country pays to be part of this organisation and they pay for the upkeep of every headstone, garden and lawn area in each cemetery across all places where Aussies have fought.
    Many members of our tour party have relatives that they are looking to locate. The historians and tour guide have worked tirelessly to locate them all. So as we travel to each war cemetery these family members conduct a graveside memorial. This is where they tell us the war story of their loved one. Today we had our first graveside memorial and it was very emotional for all as I suspect all the rest to be.
    Next we travelled to Mon St Quentin, where there were two major offences in 1918. Here three Aussies named McTier, Towers and Lowanson showed extreme bravery to outwit and take back high ground from the Germans on The Somme. All three of these men were awarded the Victoria Cross.
    Things I Learnt today.....
    1. There are such things as a 5⭐️ coach! 🚌
    2. The Monuments and cemeteries are located in all different areas, between houses, in townships or out in the middle of no where. There is no rhyme or reason, I guess life has just grown up around them.
    3. The people on this tour have amazing stories about the love ones they are looking for.
    4. Most roadside public toilets are unisex 🚽well they were today as everytime we stopped the male toilets 🚹were being cleaned, it is weird seeing men in the female 🚺 loos! Conspiracy maybe? 😝
    5. Glad I brought dark sunglasses 🕶and plenty of tissues I Think I'm going to need them! 😢
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  • Day7

    Day Seven

    July 19, 2016 in Belgium

    Today I attended the Centenary service at Fromelles. This service was to commemorate the 100 years since the battle of Fromelles in 1916. On the 1st July 1916, the Germans began bringing in reinforcements from other fronts. Battalions from Lille we reported to be rallying for a push on The Somme. So the British devised a plan to attack them at Fromelles, in the hope that would persuade the Germans to keep there men there. This plan involved the 5th Australian Division and the 61st British Division. Both these Divisions were inexperienced as they had spent less than a month on The Somme. By the next morning over 2000 soldiers were dead. The attack was hastily planned and poorly executed, as the Germans were already well entrenched. But the attack went ahead anyway.
    Today I witnessed the unveiling of six more brave young souls being recognised and finally identified for their efforts. They now rest in a beautiful part of the world and their descendants now have a place to come and remember them. Until today they were known unto God.
    On our way back to Ypres today we visited Essex Farm Cemetery. This area was an Advanced Dressing Station during this war. It was located only 3km from the front and received the wounded and assessed their injuries. It was here that an American John McCrae penned the famous poem 'In Flanders Field'. McCrae was a Brigade Surgeon with the First Canadian Field Artillery. He was at the dressing station at Essex Farm on 3rd May 1915.
    💡Things I learnt today.....
    1. The Australian Veterans Affairs really know who to commemorate our fallen. Wonderful ceremony.
    2. It is bloody hot over here!☀️
    3. It is days like this that you are proud to be an Aussie!🇦🇺
    4. You can quite easily skull 7 bottles of water in a few hours!
    5. Portable toilets at large events in France are very bizzare. Outside urinals for women? Are the French for real!🚽
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  • Day9

    Day Eight

    July 21, 2016 in Belgium

    This morning I got to visit the beautiful town of Brugge in Belgium. This town has a medievil feel with cobblestone streets, canals and ancient buildings. Some of these buildings were built as far back as the 13th century. Brugge was lucky enough to have no damage during the WW1, this was due to the Germans taking over the town early in their invasion of Belgium and the front line was established closer to Ypres.

    Our next stop was the New Zealand Memorial on Messine Ridge. There is one main difference between an Australian cemetery and a New Zealand memorial. Australia repatriated their war dead and created war cemeteries under the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). New Zealand soldiers buried their fallen where they were killed. So they built memorials and placed the names of these soldiers on the memorial.

    Not far from the New Zealand memorial, only a short walk though a paddock with Belgium Blue cattle we found our way to the Irish Peace Park. The memorial to the Irish soldiers that were lost on Messine Ridge was a large bluestone pillar tower. Each county of Ireland that sent men to the Western Front is named here. Along one side of the park are some bluestone tiles that have the thoughts of irish soldiers from their personal diaries. These are written as poems and they are very honest and depict a gloomy state that they found themselves in.

    Lastly today we visited Tine Cot Cemetery. This is the largest cemetery on the Ypres Salient. It has 12,500 headstones for the fallen from Britain, Australia, Canada and even some from Germany. New Zealand has a memorial wall here also. Most of the grave stones here are for Unknown soldiers. As you enter the cemetery you can't help notice the enormous wall. On this wall are the names of dead soldiers that they could not fit onto the Menin Gate. The enormity of this place really puts this war in perspective. The place is beautiful but disturbing at the same time. You are instantly overwhelmed with how many men were killed in just this part of the war. This is the first time on this trip that my heart and soul has been touched by what I've seen and the stories I've heard.
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  • Day174

    Day 175: In Flanders Fields

    August 8, 2017 in Belgium

    Time for some non-UNESCO exploration today! After another delicious home-cooked breakfast from our hosts, we walked over to the rental car office about 15 minutes away where we picked up our car, and headed off into the countryside. The car is great - a VW Golf "Supervan" which basically means it's slightly longer and slightly taller than the regular Golf. A little bit more room inside, but it's got some great feature upgrades too over the Golf I used to have in Sydney. This one has a full built-in navigation system which means Shandos can relax rather than give directions, and it's got auto-parking as well so I can just let it park itself! Good stuff.

    Off we went into the south-west countryside, heading towards the town of Ypres (EYE-Per) and the World War I battlefields area. Although most of the trenches in WWI were in France, the most northern sections went through Belgium, and many many people died in this area.

    We decided to do our own self-guided tour of the area, starting at Tyne Cot cemetery, which is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. I think there were around 12,000 headstones here, though about 80% of them were unidentified, and then another 35,000 names running around the walls of soldiers KIA or MIA whose remains were never found/identified. It's built on a small hill that was the site of vicious fighting at several points, and three German bunkers are still on the site. Also interested to find that it's called Tyne Cot because the houses in the area reminded the British soldiers of cottages near Newcastle-upon-Tyne!

    Next stop was the Buttes New British Cemetery, not as big but with a nice obelisk standing on a hill. Again this was the site of heavy fighting, the hill itself was a rifle range before the war and was basically the only terrain feature worth noting for miles around, so it became strategically important.

    We also visited the nearby Duitse Begraafplaats Langemark (German Students Cemetery), which was mostly German soldiers. These had mostly been buried in a mass grave as they were unidentifiable, and it's the Student's cemetery because the brigades that fought and died here were mostly student volunteers.

    Also nearby was a Canadian cemetery and memorial, marking the spot where poison gas was used for the first time in warfare (22 April 1915). Lots of people died, and though WWI is in many ways synonymous with the use of gas, it was actually surprisingly ineffective as a weapon and accounted for relatively few casualties.

    Quick pitstop at a rural supermarket for some takeaway lunch before heading to the John McRae memorial. He's the man who wrote the famous In Flanders Fields poem while fighting in the area, and the bunkers where he was working as a surgeon at the time are still preserved. Interesting to look at!

    After this we drove into the town of Ypres to visit the In Flanders Fields museum, which was excellent. We also paid a little extra for our tickets as the belfry attached to the museum building (originally a market hall) was part of the UNESCO listing for Belgian belfries. So of course we had a look! The museum was great; very modern and very detailed with lots of stuff to look at and absorb. Unfortunately we had to hurry through the last parts of the museum as our parking was running out!

    Back outside, we topped up the parking meter and checked out Menin Gate, a huge memorial archway at the entrance to the city. Around it is the name of every service man and woman who perished in the area during WWI - so it's pretty big as you'd expect! Decided not to wait around for 8pm when they play the Last Post, but instead grabbed a quick drink at a local cafe.

    Back to Bruges where we managed to find a decent parking spot and headed into town for dinner. Went to another one of the tourist restaurants on the main square, but this one didn't have quite as good food, sadly. Off to bed ahead of another move tomorrow!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Ieper, Ypres

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