British Trench, Zonnebeke

The landscape of Flanders around the city of Ypres was covered with the remains of trenches when the war ended in 1918 but as the civilian population returned and reclaimed their land, gradually they disappeared. Original trenches can only be seen in a few locations around Ypres now but for new generations coming to the battlefields it is often hard to equate muddy ditches or shallow holes with what was once here. At the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in the village of Zonnebeke a whole system of British and German trenches have been constructed to give a modern audience an insight into what the trenches looked like. Using experimental archaeology the museum has recreated different types of trenches and built using various styles and methods.

This mid-war British trench seems unusual at first in that it is straight and not zig-zagged; trenches were built like this largely to minimise the effect of shell-fire and also make them easier to defend. But there were straight trenches and they appear in contemporary images of the conflict. Along the floor a raised duckboard, or walkway, sits on top of an inverted A-frame to try and lift the occupants of the trench out of the water and the sides are lined with timber and ‘elephant iron‘ – corrugated iron sheeting, used to shore-up trenches and also often for roofing.

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4 Comments on “British Trench, Zonnebeke

  1. zonnebeke in ypres is fantastic place to visit

  2. The whole area surrounding Ypres oozes with WW1 history. The museum in Zonnebeke is a great unknown must see. Also a great research facility with experts on hand to advise. They gave me a great deal of background information on my grandfather’s 293 Siege Battery unit of the RGA.

    • Hi, my grandfather served with 293 Siege Battery, RGA too. Have you seen the website dedicated to them? I would be very interested to know what sort of background information the museum was able to give you, as I am researching the unit myself.

      • Hello Ruth, Thank you for your reply. A pleasant surprise indeed. Yes I have seen the 293SB site. A work of real dedication. Have you contacted Sean at the site. An amazing gentleman. He could add your grandad’s details/ What was his name? Our grandads must have known each other.The info they gave me told of some of their movements. I will scan it… when I can put my hands on it again! Will send it to you. I would love to organise a trip to Flanders Fields for people like us… the descendants of the original 293. Wouldnt that nbe a great tribute to those brave men? You can contact me on melvin_chambers@hotmail.com Kindest regards, Melvin

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