Whitby High School

Battlefields Tour 11-14th March 2004

Flanders Field, Belgium - Ypres Town Tour
Friday 12th March

Le Chateau

On Thursday 11th March 5pm, We arrived at Le Chateau, near Hazebrouk, St Omer in Northern France, which was ideally placed to tour the nearby former Western Front area.


Friday Morning: On leaving the Chateau we travelled north into Belgium to the town of Ypres.

Before World War One, Ypres was one of the most picturesque towns in Flanders. Its major buildings, the Cathedral and the Cloth Hall, dated from the period of the town's greatest prosperity as a cloth centre in the late middle ages. At its height, the town and surrounding countryside had a population of 200,000. By 1914 it was a sleepy market town of less than 20,000 inhabitants which drew its main income from hops.

The town saw some of the worst fighting of the war despite being behind allied lines. It was in shelling range and was practically levelled by 1918. Even the magnificent medieval Cloth Hall and cathedral which dominated the town and the skyline from miles around were completely destroyed. The original was built between 1260 and 1304. Part of this survives in the lower portion of the belfry. The post war reconstruction was begun in 1934 and was not completed until the 1960's. We were headed for this building as since 1998 it has housed the In Flanders Field Museum.

The Cloth Hall in 1914

The Cloth Hall in 1918

The Cloth Hall today

Ypres at the end of the war in 1919 (above) and the same site from the air (below)

In Flanders Field Museum, Ypres

This museum, dedicated to the memory of WWI in Flanders, Belgium, is located in the reconstructed Cloth Hall and was opened in 1999.

Why Did Britain Enter the War?

The Treaty of London signed between Britain and Belgium in 1839. This was brought in to effect when German forces invaded Belgium in 1914 as a result of the Schlieffen Plan. The terms of treaty resulted in Britain entering the war. Click Here for more information.

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Updated 8th April 2004 by Mike Royden
The Whitby High School, Cheshire County Council.