On leaving Irish House Cemetery we must head back along the main road (far left) towards Wytschaete for a few hundred yards, before we follow the course of the front lines south. The first of the mine craters blown on that morning of 7th June 1917 that we shall see on this tour, Peckham Farm Crater was formed when some 87,000 pounds of ammonal were exploded at a depth of 240 feet beneath the German lines here.
Beneath the farm buildings (more specifically the right-hand building) beyond the flooded crater another mine, considerably smaller at 20,000 pounds, but nonetheless just as deadly to anyone in the vicinity, still lies dormant deep beneath the earth.
Above & below: In the middle of the fields just a couple of hundred yards south east of the crater, the spire of Wytschaete church visible on the horizon towards the left, lies little Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery.
The cemetery contains the graves of 52 men of the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, men of the 16th Irish Division who were killed on 7th June 1917 (three died the following day). Six further burials are unidentified.
There are also special memorials to these six men of the Royal Irish Rifles who are known to be buried here but whose graves were destroyed; indeed the cemetery itself was lost during later fighting and only rediscovered after the Armistice.
Baldrick reads a note left at the base of the grave of Rifleman Thomas Todd of the Royal Irish Rifles.
The Cross of Sacrifice.
The view above looks south east with the twelve headstones of Row B nearest the camera and the six special memorial headstones we saw earlier visible in the final row.
This view looks north towards the Cross of Sacrifice, with Row B again in the foreground and Row A beyond.
Above & below: A reminder, once again, of the conditions underfoot even on a beautiful day like this.
Don’t forget that British troops captured all the land you can see in these photos in just three hours on the morning of 7th June. The mines undoubtedly caused immense devastation to the German defences, but bearing in mind the stalemate of the previous two years, I still marvel that the initial advance was so successful.
Aerial view of the Peckham Farm Crater. And we must move on. Another mine crater, and another small but beautifully sited cemetery, await.