Dixmude trench of death

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by currymunter, Feb 10, 2008.

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  1. I am planning a trip to Ypres and the Somme in the summer and came across this Trench of Death

    Is it worth a visit or should I pass?
  2. PM Banjotrooper - he may be able to assist.
  3. The trenches of death are well worth a visit as an example of preserved entrenchments and a reminder that the Belgians did fight in the Great War. Its only 30 minutes from Ypres.
    The cafe near the entrance serves jolly decent omelettes

    There is also an excellent museum in Dixdmuide itself . This is the IJzertoren. It has some interesting galleries about the Great war including some imaginative exhibitions on tunnelling which use several floors of the tower to show what went on underground. It tells the story of the Flemish participation in the war and is a good place to try to understand the history behind the tensions in modern Belgium.

    If you visit Dixmuide its also worth calling in to the Belgian cemetery in Holthust forest. This is north of Langemarck and not often visited by Brits.
  4. Just remember these simple rules:
    No WW1 trench system in the world will last 90 years without daily maintanance. Dixmude, Vimmy and the Yorkshire trench site are all the same! Totaly unrealistic concrete sandbags and concrete grill flooring however, the site is genuine and that is what it's all about! :wink: Take your guide book, see the museum photo's and let your imagination run riot. Then go pay your respects to the Belgie soldiers who fought, endured and fell there. The battles and conditions here were truly nightmarish, but don't expect to see any original trenches. Some of the bunkers outside the system are in pretty much original condition though!
    The Belgie cemetery at Houthulst is worth a visit as mentioned but again, the information is just not available on site, unlike the CWGC's which have their registers with history info etc on site. I personaly hate going anywhere without the information on what, why, when, numbers etc.
    The Ijzer Tower CAN be worthwhile but it all depends on your Britishness. It is extremely political and is not for all. Many of my Brit customers find it too much however, as mentioned, if you are into broader horizons, go for it!
    In my opinion without doubt, if you wish to see an underground mining and bunker complex (genuine) go see the the Butte de Vauquois near Verdun. Absolutely fantastic and awesome and if not, go and see one of the best repro underground bunkers at "The Paschandaele 1917 Experience" it's as near as dammit without the death and misery etc. :D
    Best of luck, Banjo. :wink:
  5. Hello! Currymunter are you receiving over? :?
  6. Thanks all. I went to Yorkshire Trench a couple of years ago and expected the Dixmude set up to be like that. I was wondering if there would be that feel for the ground that is missing at Yorkshire Trench, due to the factory units around the site.

    Banjo - I have been looking hard at Third Ypres recently and Plumer's 'bite and hold' tactics and have just read Jack Sheldon's book about the Hun's attempt to thwart the new way of fighting. I previous trips to the salient, I haven't been any further north than Langemark-St Julien-Tyne Cot. Whilst appreciating that in general, there is little or no groundsign to show the various positions, I want to see the ground (if that makes sense). Is there any value in wandering around further north and are there any visual cues (apart from the villages) that help understand things more clearly?
  7. Vladso German cemetery just north of Dixmuide has two statues by Kathy Kollwitz. Stand a foot away and look into the mother's eyes....it says more about war than a hundred museums.
  8. All the physical evidence of the great war is long gone, apart from the mine craters and underground dugouts, the mine craters are mostly on the Messines ridge however, as the above poster says, the cemeteries, memorials and place names are pretty much the same as they always have been and some hit home hard. If you go armed with the battalion war diary stuff and dated trench maps, it all falls into place! If you realy want to see evidence of the Great war, go down Verdun and Reims way. I walked through Danlope Battery wood near fort Vaux a few months ago, with another Arser and what we saw, blew us away! The French just forested over many places, it is called the red zone. We walked through and over trenches with wire pickets still in place. Dugouts abound and the debris of war litter the woodland floor. Wine/water bottles, hand grenades of all descriptions and even human remains. If this is what you want, Verdun is the place, but get away from the tourist areas and you won't be dissapointed! :wink:
  9. Reading this thread brought to mind an item I was watching, on BBC 1 TV News, before going to work on Friday morning, on the current excavation of Vampire Farm dugouts near Zonnebeke. The chap being interviewed at the site seemed in awe that finds were extremely well preserved. I recall hearing that BBC News 24 would be following the progress of the excavation. This is the only information I found on the BBC website:

    The second item on this page links to the same article:

    A Google search lead to this:

    from the Telegraph.

    My knowledge of the subject is dire, but I got the impression this excavation was of some considerable significance.
  10. As Banjo says the Frogs let a lot of places just forest over and you can find some interesting places.
    I spent a few days on the Aisne looking at the old Chemin des Dames battlefield that just about everyone fought over at some point. In the western part you can still follow the trench lines through the woods, further west you have an underground German field hospital excavated out of the rock, and right up on the front lines - how the hell did they do it?. Well worth a visit, very spooky as well and bloody cold, I went down in shorts and thin t-shirt on a hot summer's day and regretted it.

    A farmer's lad showed me the trench lines and rooting round found an old nose-cap from a shell and a bit of bone which he then just tossed over his shoulder. If you go take a shovel and/or metal detector.

    But the graveyards had me in tears, all of them, so many headstones, and you only see half of the lads buried there, the rest are unknown.
    Found British graves from 1914 in a village cemetery, and stopping for a p1ss while hiking to Rhiems, I went into a small copse just off the road and stumbled on 9 French graves. Incredible the death and destruction.

    Enjoy the trip, but take a hanky.
  11. I think they located it last year but were rained off and came back this year.
  12. Ahhhhh. Thanks currymunter. And would it be a bone question to ask why they excavate in February? Obviously I need to do much more research.