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Webmatters : The French Ossuaire at Mont Kemmel
Rough Map of Area

Ossuaire national du Mont Kemmel

Location

Mont Kemmel lies just inside the Belgian frontier. It is easily visible alongside the Mont des Cats and is well sign posted as Kemmelberg (Its Dutch name).

Between Ieper and Armentières, Kemmel village lies on the N 331.

Once in Kemmel village, follow the signs to Kemmelberg and go up and over the hill, passing the French Monument before descending towards the ossuary at the bottom of the hill.

From Mont Noir head towards Loker and then take the Kemmelbergweg from the town centre.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.778874 2.808123 Map

The French memorial at Kemmel

The French Monument above the ossuary

 

Historical Information

Mont Kemmel was held by the Allies until April 1918. On the 9th April the Germans launched the Battle of the Lys and within a week had pushed the British back to Kemmel.

French reinforcements were rushed forward but they had little time in which to prepare any defences.

At 0230 hours on the 25th April 1918 over 250 batteries of German guns opened up on Allied artillery positions with a mixture of gas and high explosive. For the next two hours they concentrated solely on destroying the gun emplacements.

At 0600 hours they launched their attack against the French who were by now shell-shocked. The Germans swarmed over the hill by-passing any points of resistance leaving those to units armed with flame-throwers and heavy machine guns.

By 0710 hours the Reserve-Jäger-Bataillon Nr.10 (Hannover) began clearing up the survivors on the summit of Kemmel Hill. By 1030 hours it was all over.

 

The French Ossuary at Kemmel

 

The Ossuaire national contains the bones of 5,294 soldiers, all but 57 of them unknown. Most of these soldiers fell in that whirlwind attack on 25th April 1918.

A plaque gives the names and regiments of the 57 identified soldiers.

On the left of the pyramid are marked the names of the commanders of the units and on the right the units themselves.

The first stone was placed by King Albert I on 4th July 1932.

 

Other cemeteries in the area