Upon leaving Dunkerque I made my way to Ieper / Ypres (“Wipers” in WW1 Tommyspeak) where I found a parking space in the old railway yard. The weather wasn’t too pleasant over the next few days so I waited for some sun.
The cathedral like Cloth Hall originally dated from the 13th century. Like the rest of the town it was destroyed by shelling in WW1 and rebuilt. Various ideas were put forward to commemorate the sacrifice of the men who died in the various battles in the surrounding area one of which was that the town be left in ruins and a new town be built on a new site. Eventually a huge arched hall open at both ends was decided upon. It spans the road eastwards along which so many men had marched never to return. It became known as the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing and is inscribed with the names of almost 55,000 men with no known graves.
Aerial photography from 1919 shows the massive scale of devastation.
“In Flanders’ Fields Museum” in the Cloth Hall tells the story of World War 1 on the town and the area.
Opposite the Cloth Hall stands “Il Gusto d’Italia“ an ice cream shop that serves ice cream on hot Brussels waffles.
I found a nice little pub in Meenenstraat, the Biercafe St. Arnoldous. They’ve got several beers on tap and it’s the sort of pub in which one starts at one end and works along, or at least from weakest to strongest. Sadly neither time nor my capacity would have been sufficient so I limited myself to three, Ypra Ale, Wipers Times 14 and Wipers Times 16. I’ll just have to go back.
The Flemish Stew at Den Anker had been recommended so I thought it rude not to try it. If you visit, I seriously recommended doing so. It’s damn good. I felt the need for a little something to follow it. What turned up was a hefty wedge of warm apple pie with cream, ice cream, custard and chocolate flakes.
A number of MG cars were visiting and parked on the Grote Markt.
North of Ieper the River Ieperlee was canalised in the 14th century to transport cloth from Ieper to the ports. Now, it’s used by pleasure craft and the freight moves by road.
The 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards fought to defend the village of Zandvoorde from the German advance at the end of October 1914. Those who died are commemorated on a dedicated memorial which stands on the site of the former grave of one of the officers killed and which is on the ridge they were defending.
Outside the village church is a memorial to the men of 1st Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers who died in the same action.
Travelling towards the Netherlands my door mirror suffered a hit. Instead of swinging back as it should the piece between the mirror housing and the arm broke. This happened on Whit Monday/Pentecost which is a public holiday in Belgium so I had to wait until the following day to get it fixed.
Fortunately I found a parking spot in the yard of Hoboken-Polder railway station on the outskirts of Antwerp. Directly opposite is a nice little pub owned by a Liverpudlian lady who’s been in Belgium some 35 years.
Searching Google Maps brought up a dealer not too far away, Garage De Linde. A very helpful chap looked at the problem and said they didn’t have a spare (understandable) but they could fix it. All done in an hour or so, excellent service.