Zonnebeke war memorial, next to the church, right in the centre of town.
Beyond the memorial, this photograph shows the tented entrance to the amazing dugout that I showed you around a couple of years back (and is no longer, in case you are grabbing your coat, accessible).
Second World War casualties, three military at the top, eight civilian beneath.
The Great War dead, twenty three named here, are listed on either end panel.
Murdered civilians. With a curious gap between the fourth and fifth name. I am convinced that there was once a sixth name there, but under what circumstances would it have been removed? All a bit peculiar.
The remaining twenty five Great War casualties are to be found on this end panel.
Zonnebeke is best known today, I suppose, for being the location of the Passchendaele museum, or the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, as it is officially known,…
…the entrance to which, just a hundred yards up the road from the war memorial, is flanked by the remains of a German bunker, or maybe bunkers,…
…perhaps the result of a failed attempt by a local farmer to clear his land, necessitating Plan B.
Donate them to the museum, you collect (clever, that).
Many moons ago now, as pictured over the next few shots, Baldrick and I spent a very pleasant afternoon here, just before it was restored and refurbished.
I hadn’t been back since, and you have to admit that the building was looking a little shabby at that time,…
…although the grounds included at least one item of interest,…
…this piece of shrapnel-spattered debris,…
…actually being a piece of old elephant iron, or, to be more precise, a piece of Large English Elephant.
The surrounding land still showed the undulations left by four years of warfare long ago, these shots taken standing very close to, certainly within a very few yards of, and possibly actually on, the British front line on 3rd October 1917, as the New Zealanders prepared for their attack the following day (see Dochy Farm post).
Fast-forward a number of years. Renovation completed for the Great War centenary, today the pitted ground has gone, replaced by serene lawns, and another little piece of Great War topography has gone for ever. Whoever made the decision should be ashamed of themselves.
…this one commemorating the area’s liberation in 1944 by Polish troops of Montgomery’s army led by General Stanisław Maczek. From general to Edinburgh bartender to recipient of an official Polish governmental apology, Maczek, who eventually died in Scotland in 1994 at the age of 102 and is buried, at his request, in the Polish military cemetery at Breda in the Netherlands, has a story worth telling. But not by me.
Although not wishing to spend this particular afternoon in the museum, I did nip into the foyer where this French Roll of Honour caught my eye; it names only sergeants, but in what context I don’t know. Anyone?
Zonnebeke 1918. The approximate site of the war memorial is marked in green, and the red half-elipse shows the rough location of the once-cratered, now-manicured, area of the museum grounds we have just seen. The shattered lake just above, and its island, are still there to this day, as a look on Google Maps, or whatever, will reveal.