Saturday, 30 October 2010

Valkenswaard CWGC - Netherlands

Seen in Valkenswaard CWGC. Can there have been a more direct epitaph!! A soldier of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers KIA 27th September 1944. Has anyone seen anything similar and as simple?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lines of Torres Vedras

Jean-Michel Veranneman de Watervliet
GBG Member

Here are some pictures I took last Weekend on a hike along part of the Lines of Torres Vedras. It was the second of these walks along the Lines. They are being regularly organised by the British Embassy in Lisbon. About 100 hikers walk for about two hours, with guides, visiting to the forts and then retiring to a local tasca (restaurant) for a hearty meal.

Part of the Lines and some of the forts have been quite well restored and preserved. There are visitor's centers, very well made pamphlets and explanatory boards in Portuguese and English and it is within an hour and a half drive from Lisbon.

A perfect Saturday outing!


Duncan Barnes
GBG Member and Badged Guide, No 43

The dislocation of the centre of Poperinge continues and has been delayed by the needs for archaeological work on the remains of medieval buildings during drainage work. Amongst these buildings is said to be a cloth hall, similar to that in Ieper (but presumably smaller) and medieval burials.

When work is finished the square will be resurfaced but with a new road alignment that will reduce parking but increase the outdoor space for the cafes and shops on the right of the present road.

The current works will eventually extend to include some of the roads leading into or away from the square.

The completion date is unclear.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Somme Footballers Memorial

GBG Member Phil Stant has been instrumental in having a new memorial raised to the 17th and 20th Middlesex, the Footballers Battalions. Phil who works with the Football League raised the monies for this impressive monument by 'bucket'collections at Football League matches.

The official unveiling will be on the 21st October 2010 at Longueval village close by the civil cemetery.

Well done Phil!!

Lions Led By Donkeys?

This young man from a school in Scotland was seen at Hooge Crater Museum. He and his fellow students were wearing these around the Ypres Salient. I have my own views on this, do you? Let me know

Monday, 11 October 2010

The Peckel Bockhouse - Improved Access

Mike Peters
Guiding Member of the
Guild of Battlefield Guides,
Badge Number 19

The 'Cresswell blockhouse' is located north of Cassel on the D916 road toward Dunkirk. Set back from the Peckel cross roads it was for all but the most determined groups a drive by stand. It is a good follow on stand after a study of the defence of Cassel by 'Somer Force' in May 1940. I was at the site two weeks ago and noticed that there is now an approach road and a hardened track around the block house. This work is recent and not quite complete, there was evidence of a collapsed drain on the approach road - not passable for large coaches. However, you can now turn left at the cross roads (coming from Cassel) and park a coach safely to disembark passengers.

There is, as you can see on the photographs now a circuit around the block house. This stand now has far more potential and the actions of Lieutenant Cresswell MC and 1 Platoon, A Company of the Glosters can be recounted in some detail. The block house is large enough to also be a useful backdrop for a discussion on the merits of static defences during the 1940 campaign. Certainly worthy of consideration for your next Dunkirk tour.

On a Health and Safety note - There are holes in the walls and individuals can enter the block house easily.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Ost Wall Poland

Received from GBG Member Norman Sibbald:

I recently toured Poland and visited a section of the Ost Wall between the Warta and Oder rivers along the pre-war German/Polish border. Originally built in the late 1930's as a defence against Poland they were put to use against the Red Army Advance west in 1945. The various fortifications are linked underground to a labyrinth of tunnels. Its make for a fascinating visit. However, the Polish authorities are closing up the entrances to many of the bunkers to prevent injuries and possible fatalities whilst turning some into tourist sites.

The bunkers are accessible from the Frankfurt (Oder)to Poznan highway and the road from Kostrzyn to Poznan also bisects the defence line. I went to see two sites open to the public at Miedzyrzecz and Boryszyn. I was given a conducted tour in Polish of which I did not understand a word!! but it was worth it just to see the underground sites. However, I have to say it was much more exciting and interesting going 'off track' and exploring those sites not yet 'locked up' I was with a man who knew what he was doing and was aware of the dangers that could trap the unwary.

The position in the foreground has been described to me as a vent? for a mortar. Beyond it about 100m away can be seen a flamethrower bunker

'Dragon's Teeth'in the middle of a forest. Note the anti-tank ditch in front of themA section of the ventilation ductwork

This bunker was blown up by the Russians in 1945. The 'chimney' in the centre of upper block was a defensive flamethrower vent

If anyone is interested in a trip I would be happy to facilitate it having travelled to Poznan on many occasions

On a different note the remains of the 'Great Escapees' are buried in the military cemetery in Poznan, Poland which is 200 kms north east of the camp location. For some reason there are only 48 graves (no headstones for N Fuglesand or D O Street) and I have been unable to find out why. It is well known that the 50 were all cremated and their ashes interred.

One of the most chilling lines from the whole episode is the scenario where the senior British officer is summoned to the Camp Commandant's office after the murders. 'How many were shot?' ' Forty-one' ' How many were wounded?''I think no one was wounded' 'Do you mean to tell me forty-one can be shot in those circumstances and that they were all killed and no one was wounded?'