On the western outskirts of Langemark we find one of the two dozen Albertina markers erected in 1984 to commemorate the death of King Albert fifty years earlier, each with its own inscription, in this case, ‘Eind-offensief Steenbeek – 28 September 1918’.
The markers were designed to remember events that were not recorded on other memorials; we saw another, not so long ago, at Passchendaele New British Cemetery.
To the south east the Steenbeek, pictured here in different seasons (above & below), can be followed for a mile and a half into St. Julien, and from there another three miles to the fields to the south of Zonnebeke, which appear, as far as I can see, to be its source.
As such it crossed the entire northern half of the Ypres salient. It may not look much, but the Steenbeek would prove a difficult barrier throughout the war,…
…especially during the Passchendaele fighting in 1917, by which time years of shelling had shattered the stream’s banks, allowing water to flood across the muddy morass on either side, turning a fifteen foot wide stream into a fifty yard wide quagmire.
28th September 1918, incidentally, was the date that British and Belgian troops began their final offensive operations in Flanders, recapturing Messines on 28th, and Passchenaele the following day.
Our next stop, the 20th Light Division Memorial, can be seen a couple of hundred yards away, on the bend of the road.