A unique World War One historic site in Flanders has reopened which allows travellers to explore a British trench system, including a restored 1915 trench with entrances to a deep dugout from 1917. This is the only British trench in the Ypres Salient still in its original location.
Thanks to grants and crowdfunding campaigns in the UK and Belgium, the Yorkshire Trench & Dugout has undergone a thorough restoration and has now reopened, offering free access to visitors. A free visitor centre is at the north entry point to the site which shows an introductory film and showcases many archaeological objects.
Location: north of the city of Ypres, on Bargie Street opposite the IVVO green park.
For more information, visit: https://www.visitflanders.com/en/press/re-opening-yorkshire-trench
A Unique Window into the Past
In late October 1914 on the eastern side of Ypres town, a bulge formed in the Front Line and the city found itself in the middle of this ‘Ypres Salient.’ It became one of the most notorious war zones on the Western Front and The Yorkshire Trench was located on its northern stretch. After the first ‘successful’ gas attack on 22 April 1915, a shallow trench was created, initially by the French, but it was managed by the British from 5 June 1915 onwards. In the spring of 1917, a new trench – Yorkshire Trench – was dug onsite and named after the home region of the British 49th Division that had manned this sector in the second half of 1915. The trench also provided access to underground headquarters for the 13th and the 16th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers but was abandoned after the first phase of the major British offensive.
Yorkshire Trench and Dugout was accidentally discovered by a farmer in 1992 and partially excavated by The Diggers, a group of amateur archaeologists led by Patrick Van Wanzeele. Just before the expansion of the industrial estate in 1998, further excavations took place. Over 200 bodies were recovered in this area. Many unique artefacts found their way into the collection of the In Flanders Fields Museum (IFFM). In August 2002, the Diggers restored about 70 metres of the trench and both dugout entrances. Today the site sits amid Ypres’ industrial area and is owned by the City of Ypres.
Flanders is the Dutch-speaking northern portion of Belgium, bordering the northernmost part of France. During WWI, Australian battalions served on the frontlines throughout Flanders and this region was the site of the bloodiest battle in our nation’s history – the Battle of Passchendaele. Today, Flanders is a rich, vibrant place to visit inviting guests to explore battlefield history, the region’s medieval beginnings, culture, nature, culinary experiences and more. www.visitflanders.com
Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is a partner of VISITFLANDERS, collaborating with this significant Australian battlefield region to highlight what travellers can see and do today when visiting Flanders. www.battlefields.com.au