Contributed by FFFAIF member Stuart Curry:
Tyne Cot Railway
As you drive out of Tyne Cot Cemetery, turn left and 100 yards down the road you’ll notice on a footpath a small column with an Australian rising sun on it. Walk further down this path and you’ll come across the only visible part left of the railway that ran N/E from Hellfire Corner to Passchendaele. It is sign posted and definitely worth a quick look.
The Australians fought here in the 3rd Battle of Ypres around September/October 1917. After the Battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde Ridge this was the road to Passchendaele.
Every time I went to Tyne Cot cemetery it rained and was very overcast. A reminder of the mud and the weather conditions that can prevail here all year round.
The Tyne Cot Cemetery is a fitting end to what happened here. Many Commonwealth soldiers from different units are buried here around the German pillboxes they fought so hard for.
It gives a magnitude of cost and the futility of war. These were some of the lucky ones because they were found, buried and recorded unlike many others who had just disappeared off the face of the earth. Most of the names of the missing are recorded at the Menin Gate.
There is a visitor’s centre with an outlook over the battlefields and a small display of interesting artefacts from the war. And if you turn around at Tyne Cot Cemetery and look back at the town of Ypes you can still see the Cathedrals spires which are definitely in artillery range. Not much of a hill to stand on, more like a rise on a paddock, but enough just to see for observation.
[Stuart visited the West Front in April-May 2008.]
The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French governments for affording Australian and British soldiers – presently buried in mass graves at Pheasant Wood – dignified individual reburials in a new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds Minister Snowdon and his British counterpart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence and Minister for Veterans, Kevan Jones MP, for their joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.
FFFAIF supports the inscription of “FROMELLES” on National and State Memorials