Travelled: 29 kilometres from Ypres to Passchendaele, Belguim and back.
Visited: Tyne Cot Cemetery and Passchendaele.
Stayed: Ypres again, same details.
It’s a short drive to Tyne Cot, about 10 kilometres from Ypres. Not surprisingly Tyne Cot is well sign posted, as our guide book states, it’s the most visited cemetery in Belguim. There are several other cars and some private tour vans in the carpark when we arrive, not surprising in the centenary years. Anyway our first task is to locate Private Cooper’s headstone. After taking quite some time to locate George Guymer’s headstone at Beilleu, we eventually got a grasp on the code system used by CWGC. So within a few minutes of locating the register we had located the headstone.
Gates to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest commonwealth cemetery in the world.
Along with the Cemetery there is a Memorial Wall with names of 35,000 British and New Zealand servicemen with no known graves from the Battle of Ypres. These names are seperate from the 54,000 names listed at the Menin Gate.
The last resting place of 11,954 servicemen of which some 8,000 whose names are unknown.
Why we came to Tyne Cot. 2541 Private Wellington Cooper, 33 Battalion Australian Infantry was 26 years old when he enlistment at Kempsey on the 21st July 1916. He gave his occupations as a farmer from Jerseyville on the Macleay River NSW. He sailed from Sydney on the troop ship SS Napier on the 17th Nov 1916, undertook further training in France before arriving on the front 28th Apr 1917. He was gassed in the field on 7th June 1917, hospitalised & discharged back to duty on 26th June 1917 . He was killed in action near Passchendaele, Belgium on the 12th Oct 1917.
Our task for Denice complete, we spend the remainder of the afternoon doing a walking tour of the Passchendaele area, from Mat McLachlan book, Walking with the Anzacs.
The tour starts at Tyne Cot Cemetery at the grave of Captain Jeffries. Jeffries was awarded his VC posthumous for leading a small group of men to attack a German pillbox, capturing 25 prisoners. He was killed later in the day leading a successful attack on a another pillbox.
An old railway cutting, the only protection for thousands of men, many Australian as they sheltered from German gunfire on the 12th October 1917.
Interestingly a Canadian Memorial stands in the middle of the large cornfield. The CWGC maintain a right of way passage to it.
The village church in Passchendaele, it was held briefly by a group of Australian on the 12th October, unsupported they had to withdraw late that night. The Australian suffered 4200 casualties on the day.
The Canadian Memorial in Passchendaele, the village was eventually claimed by the Canadian’s on the 6th November at the cost of 15,000 casualties winning 9 VCs on the day.
Michael and Pam