Hill 60, on the far side of the railway cutting, and, to the right, the trees that conceal the Caterpillar Crater.
The Caterpillar, so called because, from the air, its shape was similar to a caterpillar, was a spoilheap, like Hill 60, created when the cutting for the Ypres-Comines railway was dug in the 19th Century. It is clearly visible, and marked, on the August 1916 trench map (below).
A short distance into the wood…
…and we reach the crater. When this mine was exploded on the morning of 7th June 1917, (along with the one on Hill 60 and seventeen others between here and Ploegsteert away to the south) something like 600 German troops were instantly vapourised…
…which, as we walk slowly around the water-filled crater, is a somewhat sobering thought.
Time to leave this sombre, yet beautiful, place.
On our way out of the wood we come across a German bunker, in surprisingly good condition and, from its siting and appearance, presumably once a machine gun position.
As we leave the Caterpillar behind there is one further place we ought to visit before we conclude our visit to Hill 60, and indeed our tour of Zillebeke. Not far along the railway line to the west, Larch Wood Cemetery is the last resting place of many men who fought and died on and around the hill, and it seems only right that we pay our respects there before we leave.
Thank you Claude. I’m pleased you enjoyed them.