Webmatters Title
Webmatters : Plaque to the Sapeurs-Pontonniers at Nieuwpoort
Rough Map of Area

Sapeurs-Pontonniers

Location

Nieuwpoort is a town in the Province of West Flanders on the south-west side of the River IJzer (Yser), three kilometres from the sea. Note that you are travelling towards Nieuwpoort (Stad) and not Nieuwpoort-Bad which is on the coast.

The main road into the town is the N 39 (Astridlaan) and this brings you out to the banks of the IJzer river. Stay on the Astridlaan, do not follow the signs for Centrum.

You will come out at a large roundabout.

The road system can appear overly complicated by the double tram line that runs along it. Be very careful that you do not turn down it instead of the road.

The King Albert Memorial

The King Albert Memorial

The memorial is close to the King Albert Monument and the Westfront Centre (worthy of a visit for an explanation of the inundation of the polders via the nearby sluice gates).

At the roundabout turn right towards Middlekerke. This requires crossing the tramway before you do so. The memorial will soon be visible off to your left. Follow the signs for Middlekerke then Westfront. Parking can be had alongside the CWGC Nieuport Memorial to the Missing. To visit the Ganzepoot sluice system it would be easiest to park near to the Westfront and then walk around the gate system.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 51.133430 2.757354 Map

 

History

In October 1914 the German arrived in front of Nieuwpoort at the western limit of the Race to the Sea. Although French reserves were sent to assist the Belgian Army, there was grave doubt about the Allies’ ability to hold the line long enough.

On 25th October 1914 King Albert gave his permission to commence flooding the polders between the IJzer River and the railway line between Nieuwpoort and Diksmuide (The railway embankment which formed a barrage against the floods is now a popular cycle track — Frontzate).

Having inundated the area the army needed to maintain the level of water and on 2nd September 1915 formed a company of Sapeurs-Pontonniers to carry out this task.

 

The Plaque

Site of the Lock keepers house

This plaque commemorates the site of the shelter of the lock keepers of the Sapeurs-Pontonniers. It was unveiled on 1st September 1957.

During the war twenty-seven members of the company were killed (there is a memorial plaque to Lieutenant Calberg a hundred metres away) and 296 wounded, in particular after 1917, many of them by gas shelling.

The Company had its base in Veurne, with one platoon at Nieuwpoort, another at Wulpen and the third resting at Veurne.

 

Other memorials nearby