Faye's Faves March 2019
This month's theme is tunneling and mining in Flanders and the secret underground war. Canada had three tunneling companies who worked in the Ypres Salient during the war and were instrumental in defending the British lines from German mine attacks and building deep dugouts to shelter troops from artillery bombardments.
Read - Beneath Flanders Fields
This book by Peter Barton, Peter Doyle and Johan Vandewalle is an excellent resource on the underground war in Flanders. The authors walk you through the geology of Flanders, the history and evolution of military mining and how the British, Welsh, Australian and Canadian tunnelers overcame the water and sand of Flanders to effectively countermine and undermine the German "pioniers", their tunnels and surface fortifications. Not only did these tunneling companies fight a secret underground war they were employed in the construction of elaborate dugout systems to provide a safe haven below the trenches for the infantry. With diagrams, images and first hand accounts from tunnelers, (including Lt John Westacott, 2nd Canadian TC), Beneath Flanders Fields is unparalleled account of the Engineers and tunneling companies who spent most of the war in the depths of the earth with little oxygen, danger of being buried by a collapse and blown up by camouflets.
"All the tension all the time - the strain underground and the darkness. It was terrible. It was no war, it was murder"
(Lt. John Westacott, 2nd Canadian TC, Beneath Flanders Fields)
Watch - Beneath Hill 60
In November 1916, the 1st Australian Tunneling Company relieved the 3rd Canadian TC at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar, two low, man-made hills that overlooked the south eastern side of the city of Ypres, (Ieper), Adapted from the book of the same name by Will Davies, this movie visualizes the experience of the tunnelers in Flanders and how they overcame the Flanders geology as it recounts the experiences of Captain Oliver Woodward and the 1st Australian TC in French and Belgian Flanders, concluding with the explosion of the Canadian mines on June 7, 1917, at Hill 60 and the Caterpillar. beginning the Battle of Messines. (Trust me I didn't spoil anything here by revealing the end, there's lots of nerve-wracking excitement throughout the film).
Eat & Visit ~ De Dreve
If you've been on the In Flanders Fields tour, you've probably already been here and met Johan Vandewalle, co-authur of Beneath Flanders Fields and WW1 expert. Johan grew up on the farm across the road from his café at Polygon Wood near Zonnebeke, Belgium, and has lived the history of WW1 his entire life; it is his passion. Besides a great café with an enormous selection of Belgian Beer, including the exclusive Brothers beer, Johan offers visitors a glimpse of his life's work in his personal museum on the upper level which includes a magnificent diagram of the tunnels and mine chamber at Hill 60 plus a recreation of part of a British dugout that was discovered below a farmhouse near Tyne Cot Cemetery & Memorial. Over the winter Johan and his family redesigned and expanded the menu so De Dreve is even better than ever, but there's even more to Johan's story.
Brothers In Arms
In 2006 Johan was called to a work site when the graves of five Australian soldiers were discovered during excavation. The fifth burial was unique to the other four; the soldier was later identified as private John (Jack) Hunter who had been buried by his younger brother Jim. John's grave had been lost for nearly 90 years, which had haunted Jim until his death in 1975. Today John lays at rest with the other four Australians in nearby Buttes British Cemetery. The story of the Hunter brothers got Johan thinking of other families who may have similar stories and further research proved that there were so many! Johan felt a need to symbolically reunite the souls of the Hunter and other brothers who had sacrificed so much for his freedom and that of his country thus the concept of the Brothers In Arms Memorial was born. Construction of the memorial is well underway across the road from the café, and fundraising is ongoing to see the memorial to its completion and continued maintenance. You can contribute by donation on the website, or in person at De Dreve. All proceeds from Brothers in Arms merchandise and Brothers beer go to the memorial fund.
Johan is one of the brightest highlights on the In Flanders Fields tour, anyone who has the opportunity to meet Johan is moved by his passion and dedication to commemorating all of those who answered the call to save "poor little Belgium". Thank you Johan, dank u wel ❤️
Lange dreve 16
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