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Flanders Fields :

Ypres and 'the Salient'

For four long years Ypres was a fortress. The British defenders knew it as ‘Wipers’. It was the gateway to ‘The Salient’, a perilously thin defensive perimeter, overlooked on three sides by a ruthless and determined enemy. From the high ridges to the east and to the south, the Germans gazed down upon a shallow sea of muddy entrenchments and improvised breastworks. Beyond them, like some vast shell-torn graveyard, stood the ghostly ruins of what was once the most magnificent city in Flanders.

Today Ypres is magnificent once more. Rebuilt to its original specifications, it stands as a  centre of  both  commerce and  Remembrance - a fitting place to honour the service and sacrifice of a generation the like of which we will not see again.

Somewhere in France will introduce you to ‘Eeps’ - to the city and to its surrounding battlefields. We’ll explain the history of The Salient by visiting some of the key locations in the area - from the rearward town of Poperinghe (where Talbot House - or ‘Toc H’ - remains an inspirational place of pilgrimage) to the newly restored German defensive position  at Bayernwald, south of the city. In between, we’ll take you to Essex Farm (to learn about John McCrae and the Poppy tradition); to nearby Yorkshire Trench (on the old British front line); to Passchendaele and Tyne Cot, with its preserved bunkers (the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world); to the moving Canadian memorial at Vancouver Corner, where gas was first deployed in 1915. We’ll also explore the famous Menin Road, visiting the preserved trench network at Sanctuary Wood (Hill 62), Hooge Crater and Hill 60.

As for Ypres itself. You’ll visit the superb ‘In Flanders Fields’ Museum (named after McCrae‘s most famous poem) and the humbling Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, where members of the local fire brigade sound the Last Post each evening, prompt at eight o’ clock.



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