Matching Umbrellas


Just to prove to you that Balders and I are still hard at work, whatever the weather, scouring the Flemish countryside (or in this case the Flemish suburbs) for future additions to this site, here’s the two of us this very afternoon in Ledegem, braving the elements in our search for the tiny military cemetery that nestles somewhere among the housing estates on the town’s outskirts.  You will be pleased to know that we did eventually find it (closed roads and cycle race notwithstanding), so at some point in the future we will, of course, be sharing with you the photos we took on what turned out to be a VERY wet afternoon.

Thank heavens that the weather yesterday, when we revisited Ploegsteert Wood (look out for a huge update to the Tour of Ploegsteert Wood in the not-too-distant future) was simply glorious…

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17 Responses to Matching Umbrellas

  1. Edward Taylor Chard says:

    Make good reading

    • Magicfingers says:

      Please accept my sincerest apologies for not responding earlier, Mr Edward Taylor from Chard. I shall try to do better next time! Sorry, sorry, sorry sorry sorry (that should do it). Hope you had a good journey back to Somerset. See you next time.

  2. Filip Jacques says:

    As a member of the Historical Society of Ledegem, your visit to my town interests me, of course. Have you also visited the remembrance monument, at about half a kilometer from the military cemetery? It was unveiled in October 2008, in the presence of representatives of the Leinster Regiment Association. Worth seeing! Our town was an important step in the ‘Last 100 days’,or the battle of Courtrai, as it was a last stronghold of the German army (Flandern Stellung I). 4 VC’s were attributed after the liberation of our town.

  3. Magicfingers says:

    Hi Filip. We certainly picked a good day to visit your home town! Pouring rain combined with a cycle race (necessitating road closures) and our terrible sense of direction meant we had a long walk to find the cemetery. But it was worth it (by the way, can you tell me when the housing estate that now surrounds the cemetery was built?). I have done some research since first reading your post, both about the fight to retake the town, and the four VCs you mention, so I shall include something on them when I get round to uploading the photos we took that day. The remembrance monument, however, will have to wait until my next visit. Seriously, we were just too wet…

  4. Filip Jacques says:

    A german pillbox is being cleaned up and made open for the public. Excavations took place in a farm, and remains of a german monument of the removed german cemetery (1800 graves) were dug up. These remains will be used to mark the place where the cemetery was. As we had a field hospital in our town, many wounded germans were treated (eg inside the church), and those who didn’t make it, were buried in our town. The historical society of Ledegem has a rich archive on the First World War, and even is preparing a book on this subject.
    And yes, cycling still is important in our region, and from time to time, it doesn’t rain around here…

  5. Magicfingers says:

    Ha! When will the pillbox be open? The book sounds like a really good idea, although I shall have to wait for the English translation. Mind you, Baldrick does have excellent translating skills…

  6. Filip Jacques says:

    The pillbox bill officially be opened somewhere in July or August this year. And the book, well, we are working on it. It should be published sometime next year. It will treat our town before, during and after WWI: the invasion, the occupation, the liberation and finally the reconstruction of our town. You’ll hear from us!

  7. Magicfingers says:

    The book sounds great! A very worthwhile project. I look forward to seeing it (and the bunker next time I visit). I notice that in the Leinster Regiment Association newsletter (The 40/10) from November 2007 there is an article entitled ‘The Liberation of Ledegem’ which includes not only a photograph of what I presume is the bunker you are referring to, but also a drawing of the bunker and farmhouse during the war. Very interesting. Anyway, best of luck with the projects, and I shall look forward to hearing about your progress.

  8. Filip Jacques says:

    Indeed, that’s the bunker. Work around the bunker will soon be over, so the public will be able to visit it. Our Historical Society and the LRA have had a very interesting collaboration during the last years, and we all intend to keep it that way.
    If ever you visit our region, let us know!

  9. Magicfingers says:

    I will indeed. I would hope to be over some time later in the year, although exactly where this time I have yet to decide.

  10. Magicfingers says:

    31.10.18 “At Ledeghem we were marched to the far end of the town and put into what had been one of Fritz’s Civilian Internment Camps.” Having read this recently, I wondered whether any more is known about this camp?

    • Filip Jacques says:

      Yes. It was situated in a (still existing) farm and was called “Zivilgefangen Lager”, or camp of emprisoned civilians (actually no more than 100 yards from where I live). It is clearly marked on a trench map of the German army. The British trench map mentiones it as ‘Talford Farm’ (on sheet 28 N.E. in square L 1 d). I fear that all traces of that camp in the farm have disappeared. We also had a ‘Russen Lager’, a camp of Russians doing forced labour for the Germans (called ‘Gefangenlager’, same map, square L 8 b) on Flandern III Stellung. We have a photograph of soldiers (and Russians) in front of that camp.

      • Dear Flip / Beste Filip

        Marinekorps Flandern – RU :
        I’m discussing the WW1-BE/NL-boarderfence-2000V.
        Ik ben bezig met WO1-BE/NL-grensdraad-2000V.

        Veel Russen waren er dwangarbeiders.
        Many Russians were involved.

        I like to contact people about WW1-Russians in BE.
        Ik zou gaag corresponderen over de WO1-Russen in BE.

        May you send me your emailadress ?
        Kan U een emailadres bezorgen ?

        Best greetings / Vriendelijke groeten
        Paul Van Parys

  11. Filip Jacques says:

    BTW, where did you read this quote?

  12. Magicfingers says:

    Ah, interesting. Thanks for that. I rather suspected it wouldn’t be unknown to you.

    The quote is from a book entitled “Sapper Martin”, published in 2009 by Bloomsbury and edited by Richard van Emden, p247. Martin’s battalion moves through Ledegem on the 31st October; he spends the night in a large shed in the camp fitted with wire-netting beds, without blankets and with no food, and moves off in the morning.

    What sort of things would the civilians have been imprisoned for?

    • Filip Jacques says:

      We are still searching for information about the occupation, but as far as we know, one could be put into prison for anything. Ledegem was Operationsgebiet, meaning that civilians (this close to the front) were under military law, and no rights were guaranteed. Actually, everything was forbidden. The identity card (we still have it in Belgium, thanks to WWI) was introduced then, every civilian always had to have it on him, and moving from one place to another without authorisation was as forbidden as dangerous. It must have been hell, then, for the inhabitants of my village.

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