A group visit to the battlefields of Ypres?

Photo:The battlefields of Passchendaele

The battlefields of Passchendaele

Photo:Soldiers at Passchendaelie

Soldiers at Passchendaelie

Photo:One of the trenches at Passchendaele

One of the trenches at Passchendaele

Marking a century since the start of World War I

By Peter Crowhurst, NLCA Chair

Next year 2014 sees the anniversary of the beginning of World War One - the like of which we are unlikely ever to see again. The human cost at 37 million dead throughout the world was horrendous. The fighting conditions on the Western Front for the soldiers of the British Empire were atrocious, with soldiers being cast into battle like lambs to the slaughter. Weapons of defence were far more advanced than weapons of attack, resulting in thousands dying in major attacks. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme 50,000 British and Imperial soldiers were lost.

Commemorations of those events in 1914

There will be huge commemorations of the events of 1914 next year to remind us of the sacrifice made by ordinary men who volunteered or were conscripted into the armed forces. One of the main battlefields was the area around the Belgian town of Ypres. It was here that Hitler fought in 1914, where gas and flame throwers were used for the first time, and where the name Passchendaele became forever associated with the horrors of war.

Visit to Ypres for North Laine residents

As part of the nation-wide commemorations the NLCA intends to organise a day visit to the Ypres battlefield next September (2014) to give local residents the opportunity to see the WW1 battlefields around the Ypres area, as well as visit some of the excellent museums that have been created and the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world.

A Saturday in September

The trip will take place on a Saturday in September and will cost between £35-£38. We will leave at about 5.30am returning to Brighton about 12.30am. Travel will be with a coach and using the ferry to cross the Channel. There will be time in Ypres for lunch and to visit the world class Museum in the Town Hall and the Menin Gate before setting out on a tour of the battlefields, which will include Hill 60, Hill 62, Hooge, Tynecot and the German cemetery of Langemarck.

An experienced guide

There will be an experienced guide accompanying the coach so that you will be given a full history of the sites visited and the strategic importance of Ypres on the Western Front. Prior to the visit there will be a lecture on the battles of Ypres and some contextual information on the places to be visited. This is an ideal opportunity to find out about World War One and the conditions under which the men fought.

Are you interested?

If you think you might be interested in going, perhaps you would let me know by emailing me at chair@nlcaonline.org.uk, giving your full contact details. At this stage I would like to ascertain whether there is sufficient demand for the visit. No money would have to be paid until January 2014.

Information on North Laine soldiers who fought in WW1

If you have information on soldiers from North Laine who fought in World War One, we would like to hear from you. If you have letters, reminiscences, photographs or news cuttings from family or friends from the area we would like to share them with the community and so improve our understanding of what those who lived in our houses a century ago did in the War.

[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 223, July/August 2013]

This page was added on 12/08/2013.

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