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Ypres St Jan - bunkers destroyed?


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#1 (Hugh)

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 09:41 AM

I was listening to some local farmers talking, and they said that a farmer in St Jan has recently "levelled his land" by removing a pair of ww1 bunkers, and this has come to light when somebody made a complaint about it.

Can anyone add anything to this?

Hugh

#2 J Banning

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 10:50 AM

Hi Hugh,
This sounds like Cambrai Redoubt to me. Suggest you speak to PB about it when you meet up later this week.
Cheers
Jeremy


#3 (Hugh)

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 11:22 AM

Thanks Jeremy.

Found it, though. Here in the paper:-

http://www.nieuwsbla...p;postcode=8900

They were in a field alongside the A19 just before the final junction - Verlorenhoekstraat near St Jan. Two bunkers broken into pieces with a pneumatic hammer.

Anyone got any before/after pictures?

Hugh
$>(

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#4 Aurel Sercu

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 03:55 PM

Sorry it's in Dutch, but maybe some of you... :-)
Well, the first link shows a modern aerial pic of the area where the bunker was.

http://www.forumeers...pic.php?t=18879

And this one because it contains a photo I took some years ago. Ypres spires in the background centre.
(Scroll down to 13 Mei 20:02)

http://forumeerstewe...p=273616#273616

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#5 Chris_Baker

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 04:37 PM

I can see that this is an illegal act. If prosecuted and found guilty, what is the likely punishment?

#6 Ken Lees

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:33 PM

I took these pictures in April, 2006:


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#7 Ken Lees

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:36 PM

And the inside:

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#8 Mick D

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:54 PM

Great photographs, such a pity they are no more.


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#9 (Hugh)

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:14 PM

The newspaper article says that the farmer had a permit for 'levelling' of his field, and as this work was being carried out, he took the opportunity to remove two bunkers. This exceeded the bounds of his permit, and he has been given a caution and the case handed to legal authorities.
The bunkers were not removed in one piece so that anything could be saved, but broken up with a pneumatic drill.

Continues: This is all the more striking because the In Flanders Fields Museum will shortly be renewed. In the new museum, much more attention will be paid to relics of the war in the landscape.

The farmers whom I was talking to said that the guy surely knew that it was illegal, but just did it in the hope that nobody would notice, and if someone did complain, he calculated that the fine would be only a small amount.

#10 (Hugh)

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:28 PM

Looking at those great photos, it's an absolute bleedin' disaster for the preserved war landscape of Ieper, as the bunker in the photo looked in excellent state of repair and would last another hundred years, when most of the rest have crumbled away.

The landowners really need to get more of a sense of how many people value these objects as the physical reminders of a titanic struggle and a massive accumulation of suffering and death. Really the punishment should be for the culprit to pay the entire bill for a complete restoration of the objects. The cost of that would make others think twice.

Hugh

#11 Cnock

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:48 PM



Front side of the bunker in 1998

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#12 Cnock

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:51 PM



Ken,

thanks for the inside view!

Cnock

#13 roel22

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:07 PM

Anything known about their history, before they fade into oblivion?

Roel

#14 (Hugh)

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:22 PM

Jeremy (above) is completely right that these are part of the 'Cambrai Redoubt" bunker system. See here:-

http://www.firstworl...iandivision.htm

The Dutch forum pointed to by Aurel is way ahead of us on this event, but it's all too late. Good map, photo and lists of trenches and bunkers in the defensive system there. Interested to know any of their history, as Roel asked.

#15 roel22

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:33 PM

Thanks Hugh (and Jeremy)

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#16 J Banning

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 08:25 PM

QUOTE ((Hugh) @ May 18 2009, 08:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The landowners really need to get more of a sense of how many people value these objects as the physical reminders of a titanic struggle and a massive accumulation of suffering and death. Really the punishment should be for the culprit to pay the entire bill for a complete restoration of the objects. The cost of that would make others think twice.

Quite agree Hugh.
Just to let the forum know that Lord Faulkner of Worcester, Chairman of The All-Party Parliamentary War Graves & Battlefields Heritage Group, will be sending a letter to the Belgian authorities asap with regard to some clarification on the protection of these concrete structures.


#17 Cnock

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 06:54 PM



Hello,

this weekend I visited a farmer who had an interesting German bunker on his land
he pointed out to me :
-thanks to many farmers bunkers are still existing, as most of them are on farmland, he had several occasions to remove the bunker but didn't want to;
-sometimes people ask the impossible, he was asked to make a footpath to the bunker for visitors, but the bunker is one mile away on his land, several fences and ditches have to be crossed,
-at one occasion he let Belgian schoolboys visit the bunker, they had vandalized the bunker by painting graffiti in and outside. He considered this as a lack of respect.

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#18 onlyme

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 04:10 PM


Being a person who knows nothing about farming, i dont see the problem about having a bunker in a field, apart from having to steer around it.
i mean how much wheat or whatever he grows would a bunker be the equivalent to. A sack? who knows? (thats not a question by the way)

I think if a few of the farmers dug a nice entrance tunnel to a bunker and made it a bit of a tourist attraction, i would be the first to throw a few quid into a donation box hung at the door.

But yep i know, someone would nick the donation box. And then the drinking fraternity would fill the bunker full of empty vino collapso bottles. And then dont forget the graffitti boys and those that need a toilet.

Sadly i think i have answered my own question about why the bunkers are dissappearing and the donation box would never work.

Ian




#19 (Hugh)

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 04:15 PM

In this case, the bunkers are gone in order to plant some extra.... potatoes. It's a huge potato field - I went to look at the site last week. Something to think about when you're next having some frites.
Hugh

#20 wulsten

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Posted 09 June 2009 - 05:31 PM

Very sad loss

#21 willy

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 05:14 AM

problem is, some farmers eventually get fed up with uninvited visitors flattening crops and using bunkers as toilets, it's just another problem
to deal with on a day to day basis, answer remove the attraction, and in most cases it takes a fair bit of effort and money to do. sometimes we are our own worst enemy and threaten the very object of our intrest by visiting it.

#22 chrislock

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 10:20 AM

I walked my dog past the Catapillar last night and being an ex falconry trained dog, she came up on a good point against a German bunker on the edge of the railway embankment. Of course my peregrine is long gone but the dog just does what she is trained to do and that is to locate and point feather so of course, out of interest I moved in quitely to see what she had found. I expected a pheasant or maybe a wood cock and peered into said bunker... It was orrible! My dog was pointing a huge pile of pooh and a ginormous pair of blokes pants!!! I guess she needs some re training if I ever decide on a new falcon laugh.gif

Bunkers and crap holes go together it seems so I can understand why some land owners wish for them to be removed but it will be a great shame if they disapear.

Chris.

#23 willy

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 12:30 PM

[quote name='chrislock' date='Jun 29 2009, 11:20 AM' post='1212871']


is she a german shorthaired pointer chris lol

ps of course i know she isn't but i couldn't resist, anyway bears out my point from the previous post yours


#24 (Hugh)

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:09 PM

Is there also a society for putting a carrier bag full of rubbish in every bunker?
I found an intact bunker deep in Battle Wood a few weeks ago, and thought, wow! Bet not many people have seen this. But someone from the Society for Putting a Carrier Bag Etc had been there previously.

Chris, I was walking my dog too. Do you think one day our dogs might meet?

Hugh.

#25 Rockdoc

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:52 PM

It's unfortunately not a new occurrence. When Flanders & Swann wrote "The Society of British Bedstead Men" about fifty years ago it was a comment on littering in what we often think of as halcyon days. The chorus goes:

Oh, the hammer ponds of Sussex and the dew ponds of the West
Are part of Britain's heritage, the part we love the best
Every eel and fish and mill pond has a beauty all can share
But not unless it's got a big, brass, broken bedstead there

Keith