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Webmatters : The Belgian Front Line: Yser Memorial at Nieuwpoort
Rough Map of Area

Yser Memorial

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 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 51.134270 2.757855 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 system of sluice gates (Ganzepoot) that you see around the memorial were instrumental in creating and maintaining the inundation.

 

The Memorial

Nieuwpoort War Memorial

Sculpted by Pieter-Jan Braecke (a native of the town) the memorial represents a woman, high on top of the column, turning away from the enemy. In her hand she protects the Belgian crown.

The old French name for the river was Yser and the battle takes its name from that. Yzer is the Flemish name for what is more correctly (in Dutch) called the IJzer.

Around the base are four figures of soldiers : one wounded, one blind, one with his medals and one with a lion. In between the soldiers are the coat of arms of Belgium inscribed either with Union-Force, Belgique or Eendracht-Macht, België.

You may also notice that many of the blocks carry the letter V. The word Vaderlandertje was a nickname for the sandbags.

The memorial was commissioned by Prince Mérode the president of the National Committee for Remembrance and was inaugurated on the 26th October 1930.

 

Other memorials nearby