The war memorial in the village of Broodseinde, just a few hundred yards north east of the much larger town of Zonnebeke.
The Battle of Broodseinde took place on 4th October 1917 as the battle to capture the Passchendaele ridge entered its third month, and initially it was a great success. The fact, however, that Broodseinde is less than two miles from Passchendaele village, and yet it would be another month before the Canadians finally drove the Germans out of Passchendaele itself, shows how much more fighting there was still to do.
The memorial, I think you’ll agree, is quite unusual compared to many we have visited in the Salient.
Made of brick, and very much redolent of its time, it appears to have been unveiled in 1978.
‘Ici On Ne Passe Pas’. There was a famous French ditty, written in 1916 by Jules Wolf, entitled ‘Verdun! On Ne Passe Pas’, from which I presume the words are taken.
Beneath, three crosses, each inscribed with the words, ‘Aux Soldats Inconnu. Morts Pour La France’,…
…and a tablet to the French soldiers of 9th Army Corps who defended this ridge (the Broodseinde Ridge, I guess) in October & November 1914. Er, Chris? Assistance required please!
I wonder whether the relative modernity of the memorial explains why there is no mention of civilian deaths (and there surely must have been some, unless the Germans, and Broodseinde was in their hands for the first three years of the war, had removed all the civilians in the very early days), nor any mention of World War II.
So why has a post of a curious little war memorial suddenly appeared for no apparent reason? Well it’s a spurious link, really, to the fact that I shall be in Zonnebeke this very Friday. During the Battle of Passchendaele the British constructed a dugout beneath Zonnebeke church, and in 1989 archaeologists discovered and first started exploring what remained. Which was quite a lot. Nearly thirty years later, for just six months, and for a limited amount of people, the dugouts have been opened to the public, before I assume being sealed and flooded once again. An opportunity not to be missed, so flying visit required, arriving in Lille late Thursday night, back in London very early Sunday morning! Two days which will, I hope, also allow me time to fill the few small gaps in the Tour of Boesinghe that I keep promising you – the odd bunker, memorial & plaque that I have yet to photograph – and also, with luck, the opportunity to tour some cemeteries south of, and quite close to, Ieper, that, even after all these trips, Baldrick & I have yet to visit.