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RETURN TO THE SALIENT

Some time in the 1920s, Edward Glanville Smith joined the steady stream of ex-soldiers who were revisiting the battlefields where they had fought a few years before.

 

A series of photographs owned by his family suggest he stayed in the devastated city of Ypres (now known as Ieper), and travelled into the Salient to some of the memorials and cemeteries which are still widely visited today.

 

Most of the locations have been identified, with help from experts on the Great War Forum.  They are:

 

1.    Looking towards the Cloth Hall through the Menin Gate – then a battered ruin, now a memorial to the missing and the setting for the nightly Last Post ceremony.

2.    In Grote Markt, the central marketplace of Ypres, with scaffolding already in place for the rebuilding of the Cloth Hall and St Martin’s Cathedral.

3.    The remains of Lille Gate, the southern exit from Ypres which was less exposed to shelling than Menin Gate on the eastern side.

4.    The end of Ieperlee (the Ypres-IJzer Canal) on the northern side of Ypres.

5.    Essex Farm Cemetery to the north of Ypres, then as now a magnet for visitors to the Salient.  The original crosses have long been replaced, and the cemetery and canal bank are now hidden from the busy main road by a screen of trees.

6.    Looking north across the fiercely contested summit of Hill 60.  The monument commemorating 9th (County of London) Bn London Regiment, known as Queen Victoria’s Rifles, would have been of interest to Smith who served in 17th Bn London Regiment.  It was reconstructed after being badly damaged in the Second World War.

7.    On the western edge of Hill 60, this shows the original memorial to 1st Australian Tunnelling Company, taken from the track running down to the railway line and looking back up towards the road.  The inscription says the original memorial was built in April 1919 and replaced in 1923 by the present-day version (in a slightly different location), so Smith’s visit must have been between those dates.  The original memorial is shown on this website (though the caption says this was built in 1923): http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/ploegsteert/zwarte-leen/craters-at-hill-60.php  The memorial on the same spot in the modern photo commemorates Pierre Marchant and Lucien Olivier, two Belgian members of the Resistance who were killed by the Germans after trying to escape from a train in September 1944.

8.    Probably taken on the way back to Ypres from Hill 60, this shows the road called Maaldestedestraat heading northwards from the modern village of Hoge Voete (just north of Zillebeke).  Despite the poor quality photo, Perth Cemetery (China Wall) can just be made out beside the road – presumably the reason for Smith’s visit.  A light railway track can also be seen running along the road.

9.    Despite every effort, the location of this photo has not been identified.  It may show the ramparts at Ypres, with an item of farm machinery in the foreground.  See the discussion here: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/243759-post-war-visit-to-ypres-salient-the-final-challenge/  Please let us know if you have any idea where this might be!

10.  This photograph seems to belong to the same series, so it presumably shows the room where Smith stayed on his tour of the Salient.  If so it illustrates the spartan conditions endured by early visitors, with roughly built bed, chair, and blanket partition wall.  A British steel helmet under the bed may be a battlefield relic.

 

Many thanks to Catherine Piper for permission to reproduce these photos, and to Joel, Jan, Pete, Neil, Mel and others on the Great War Forum for their brilliant detective work in identifying these locations.  Thanks also to Rob Kirk for taking some of the modern comparison shots.

 

Copyright on the original photographs belongs to Catherine Piper – not to be reproduced without permission.

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