After our visit to the Menin Gate again and Flanders Field Museum we decided to make a quick stop at St. Martin’s Church because it was just too beautiful to let pass.
St. Martin’s Church
Although still known as St. Martin’s Cathedral it technically isn’t any longer but is actually St Martin’s Church. It was the seat of the former diocese of Ypres from 1561 to 1802 and at 335 ft (102 metres) it is one of the tallest buildings in all of Belgium. Started in 1230 it wasn’t until 1370 that construction was finished. I’m so glad the people of those times were willing to put the effort into building such grand buildings even though many of them would have never seen them completed in their lifetimes. Makes me wonder if anyone would ever still do that today.
Admittedly I knew nothing about Hill 60 before the trip, really didn’t even know what we’d be seeing (a hill I guessed) but L had it on the list so why not? Turns out it is a hill as the name suggests and was the site of The Battle of Hill 60 which took place during WWI. Hill 60 was taken by the German 30th division on November 11, 1914 during the First Battle of Ypres.
The hill itself was formed when earth, excavated to run a railway, was dumped in mounds to form some hills. There were three formed- the Caterpillar, the Dump, and Hill 60. From this hill the area of Ypres and Zillebeke could be observed. In addition to fighting over the hill in WWI, the area was fought over again in 1940 as the British 5th Infantry Division stopped the advance of three German divisions. It was so serene to wander the paths up and down and around the remnants of bunkers with fluffy sheep tending to the grounds- hard to imagine it as a place full of gunfire and fighting all those years ago.
The next stop on the Battle Plan was Sanctuary Wood but before we got there we passed by a military cemetery that we had seen on the way to Hill 60 and had to stop. I’m really glad we did because it was beautiful. Seeing Tyne Cot later that day will always be memorable, more for its sheer size than anything, but little Perth Cemetery is a must stop if you are in the area. The resting place of 2, 791 soldiers, 1,369 of which are unidentified, this is such a peaceful place in the middle of some farmer’s fields. For a little more information please visit my earlier post about WWI Commonwealth War Cemeteries.
With just a couple more sites to visit on our trip, I’ll share those in the next post and then it’ll be time to close this chapter of my travel journal and say goodbye to Normandy and Ypres…for now.
To follow along on our adventures on our trip exploring WWI and WWII sites of Normandy and Belgium, please feel free to check out these posts:
Previous Post: A Morning Exploring Ypres
Next Post: Sanctuary Wood, Hooge Crater, and Tyne Cot