Part Five: Excursion to "Flanders Fields"

(pdf version in A4 format)


‘Flanders Fields’ is the name of battle fields of World War I, after the famous poem of the Canadian doctor John McCrae:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

between the crosses row on row…

Monday July 12: in/around Ieper (Ypres)

  • 9.00: Departure by bus from Notre Dame du Chant d'oiseau
  • 10.45: Visit to
    • Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passendale: biggest British war cemetery on the continent: 11.956 graves,
    • remnants of a German bunker.
    • The battle of Passendale (July 31 till November 10, 1917) cost half a million dead and wounded. Gains: a few kilometres of territory.
      • We died in hell. They called it Passendale.
  • 11.30: Visit to the Essex Farm War Cemetery (1.185 graves),
    • with restored dug-out where J McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields.
  • 12.00: Free for lunch.
  • 14.00: Visit to
    • Museum In Flanders Fields (2-3 hours): explanations in four languages,
    • includes the visit: of a temporary exhibit Belgian War Refugees 1914-1918.
    • Also go to the Cloth Hall and Belfry (built 1260-1304, rebuild after WW I), symbols of the power of the cloth guilds;
    • and the renaissance City Hall, built against the side-façade of the Cloth Hall;
    • and the bookshop.
  • 18.00: Free for dinner.
  • 19.45: Gathering at the The Menin Gate
    • (with the names of some 55.000 Commonwealth soldiers whose bodies are missing).
    • Daily ceremony (15 minutes) at the Menin Gate with the Last Post at 20h.
  • Afterwards: Walk on the city walls (from various periods, but mostly built by Vauban around 1680).
  • Night in hotels in the historic center of Ieper.

Tuesday July 13: in/around Diksmuide (at 20 kilometers from Ieper)

  • 9.00: Departure by bus.
  • 10.15: Visit to
    • the Museum IJzertoren (Tower of the river Ijzer):
      • by elevator up to the top floor of this 22-storied tower with panorama of the now green fields to be compared with the pictures of mud and despair in the same fields just after the war.
      • Excellent museum of WWI and the Flemish emancipation movement during the 20th century (one topic per floor coming down the stairs).
      • Explanations in four languages.
  • 12.30: Lunch.
  • 13.45: Visit to the Death Trench (restored): a unique site.
  • 14.45: Visit to the German war cemetery at Vladso with Käthe Kollwitz's Mourning Parents.
  • 15.15: Stop in Koekelare
    • for refreshments
    • + visit to the Käthe Kollwitz Tower (with her drawings).
  • 16.15: Departure for Brussels. Arrival in Brussels around 18.00.