The Ypres Salient Battlefields, Belgium
A salient is an area of the battlefield that extends into enemy territory and surrounded on three sides. The Ypres Salient is centered around the ancient town of Ypres in Belgium (now known by its modern Flemish name — Ieper). It was formed after the German army was forced out of Ypres early on in the war to the higher ground that surrounds it on the North, East and South.
As you stand in the main square and survey the ornate buildings around you it is hard to believe that the whole area was razed to the ground during the war and then later completely rebuilt.
Visitors to the Ypres Salient have been increasing steadily over recent years. There are now a number of good museums and memorials to visit, accommodation for visitors is plentiful and there are a growing number of tour companies eager to explain the history of the area.
- Daily Last Post at the Menin Gate — Every evening at 20:00 the road running through the Menin Gate is closed to traffic and up to six buglers step out and play last post.
- Annual Anzac Day celebrations, Messines — On the 25th April, Mesen commemorates Anzac-day, in memory of the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who died in and around Messines.
- Annual Armistice Day celebrations — 11th November is a public holiday in Belgium. Ieper celebrates with a number of events including the Poppy Parade and the Special Last Post as an act of Remembrance at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing.
Battles of the Ypres Salient
Within the first few months of the outbreak of the Great War the Ypres Salient witnessed the first of several major battles to occur there before the war ended on 11 November 1918. The major battles comprised:
- First Battle of Ypres, (19 October - 22 November 1914)
- Second Battle of Ypres, (22 April - 25 May 1915)
- Battle of Messines, (7 - 14 June 1917)
- Third Battle of Ypres [Battle of Passchendaele], (31 July - 10 November 1917)
- Fourth Battle of Ypres - Battle of the Lys, (9 April - 29 April 1918)
- Battle of Ypres, (28 September - 2 October 1918)
Ypres - Ieper
The medieval town of Ypres (nowadays called by its Flemish name Ieper) was located at the centre of the 1914-1918 battlefields of the Ypres Salient. Ypres was razed to the ground during four years of fighting.
was a small town situated approximately 8 miles to the west of Ypres in the rear British Army area. The town was the location for the famous Toc H Everyman's Club, founded in 1915 by Padre Tubby Clayton.
The Ypres Salient battlefields today offer public and private museums. They contain resources ranging from rare battlefield artefacts and archive collections to original trench systems. Perfect for private tourists or school parties.Ypres Salient Museums
The scale of military casualties from the German, French and British Armies during the battles of the Ypres Salient amounted to several hundred thousand dead. Their graves are marked by over 120 military burial grounds on the old Ypres Salient 1914-1918 battlefields.Ypres Salient Cemeteries
In addition to the cemeteries, several memorials list the names of “The Missing”, whose bodies were never found and commemorate those who died and who have no known grave in the Ypres Salient.
There are numerous sites to visit in the Ypres Salient where remains of the fighting can be seen. These include trenches, mine craters and concrete bunkers.Battle Remains in the Ypres Salient
There is a range of visitors' accommodation in the area of the 1914-1918 Ypres Salient battlefields to suit all budgets. As a guide this website provides listings of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and Bed & Breakfast, self-catering, full board accommodation and campsites.
Where to Eat in and around Ypres
There are a wide range of options for eating at a range of restaurants, bistros, cafés and tea rooms for the individual traveller and tour groups.
GWPDA Photographs with grateful thanks to the Great War Primary Document Archive: Photos of the Great War.
(1) Photograph courtesy of Ypres Visitor Centre, copyright Stad Ieper.