Hooge Crater

Hooge Panorama 1

The area around Hooge was the scene of almost constant fighting between 1914 & 1917.  Both sides exploded mines beneath the front line trenches here, the evidence of which, as you will see, still exists among the trees to the side of the Menin Road, and it was here, on 30th July 1915, that the Germans first used flamethrowers, liquid fire as it was referred to at the time, against the British positions.

Hooge

Hooge

Before the War Hooge Chateau stood near this spot, but by July 1915 artillery had reduced it to rubble and it was never rebuilt.  The current building, a hotel and restaurant, was built on the site of the original stables.

Hooge

In October 1914, during the First Battle of Ypres, the Chateau was being used as the headquarters of the staff of the British 1st & 2nd Divisions as they directed the desperate fighting to prevent the Germans taking Ypres.  On 31st October a number of German shells exploded on or around the chateau, two penetrating the rooms where British officers were in conference.  Both Divisional Commanders, Major Generals Lomax (1st Division) and Monro (2nd Division) were wounded along with others in attendance; six British officers were killed as a consequence of the shelling including Lomax, who would die of his injuries nearly six months later.

Hooge

Anyway, first a brief resumé of the main actions that took place here, and then on to the photos:

21st February 1915 – The Germans explode the first mine beneath the trenches at Hooge.  19th July 1915 – The British explode one and a half tons of ammonal beneath the German positions and consolidate the huge crater torn in the German lines.  30th July 1915 – Using liquid fire for the first time, the Germans break through the British lines and capture the crater.  9th August 1915 – The British recapture the crater; they will hold it until the summer of 1916.  25th September 1915 – A British attack at Hooge is an expensive failure, costing some 4000 casualties.  6th June 1916 – The Germans detonate four mines beneath the British trenches at Hooge and retake the crater and the British front line.  31st July 1917 – Hooge and the surrounding area is captured by the British on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).  21st March 1918 – The Germans recapture Hooge and almost take Ypres during their Spring Offensive.  28th September 1918 – Hooge changes hands for the last time as the final British offensive of the War pushes the Germans inexorably eastwards before the Armistice brings hostilities to an end.

Hooge

There are a number of information boards we will come across that are well worth enlarging – the text should be legible if you do so.

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

One of a number of German bunkers still in evidence around the crater.  This particular bunker dates from the winter of 1915-1916.

Hooge

IHooge

Some shots of the interior of the bunker, with and without flash:

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge Panorama 2

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

It seems that we are now standing right on the spot of the German flamethrower attack of 30th July 1915.

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

At the far end of the crater, another German bunker, this one dating from 1917…

Hooge

…and what appears to be a part of a third in the foreground.

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Caught in the act No 1.

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Caught in the act No 2.

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

Hooge

The Menin Road, with the battlefields of 1914 & 1917 away in the distance to the east.

Hooge

No time to visit today, but there is an excellent museum in this restored chapel that I highly recommend you look around should you ever visit Hooge.

Hooge

Hooge

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7 Responses to Hooge Crater

  1. Raymund Walker says:

    Great photos visited hill 60 this, year and most battle sites but missed this one,ray walker Australia.

  2. Magicfingers says:

    Thanks Raymund. Difficult to fit everything in on one trip though. Hope you’ve found the Hill 60 stuff elsewhere on this site.

  3. Lee says:

    Very interesting with great photos. I hope to visit the area in the near future as my Great Grandad was killed here on the 31st July 1917. I have discovered his grave is in the cemetery so would like to visit. If anybody has any information about that date I would be very interested in seeing it.

    • phil stevens says:

      Hi Lee just came back from visiting my great grandfathers grave, Joseph morgan 34540 of the loyal north Lancashire regiment also lost his life on July 31 1917 along with r bibby 203786, c e London 27880 & H Friedman 35710 all of the same regiment and burried side by side , no idea what happened to them but it was the first day of 3rd ypres battle,

  4. Magicfingers says:

    As I mention in the post Lee, 31st July 1917 was a big day. Name and regiment would be helpful. There are photos of Hooge Crater Cemetery (the first cemetery I ever visited in Flanders, actually) elsewhere on this site, although not a full tour around the cemetery, I’m afraid (yet). And if you check out all the posts in the ‘Menin Road’ category you will find out a lot more about this area, which might be of interest. Oh, and thanks for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Lee says:

    It’s been a while since I checked this site so thanks for your responses. My Great Grandfather was Cpl. William Humphreys L/10391 Royal Fusiliers who died on the 31st July 1917 age 33. I hope to get to the cemetary in the next couple of months. I have family in Holland who have recently visited after we discovered where his grave was located. I would like to find out more about him And it would be great to find a photo as we do not have any Of him. I guess it could be a difficult search, dO either of you know if there would be a regiment photo anywhere.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello again Lee. You could try the Royal Fusiliers Museum for starters; they may have a photo, or you might be able to arrange to go there and look through the regimental archives (if they keep them – they may have passed them on elsewhere, but they will be able to tell you where) yourself; all depends how they do things there. Maybe try the record office where your Great Grandfather came from, but you are quite right that it would most likely be a difficult search.

      Hope your trip goes well, and check out the ‘Menin Road’ category that I mentioned previously (if you haven’t done so) before you go.

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