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Webmatters : 34th Division Memorial at Langemark
Rough Map of Area

34th Division

Location

Langemark is located north of Ieper off the N313, a road that runs between Ieper and Poelkapelle. From the N313 turn off towards Langamark along the Zonnebekestraat (opposite the St. Julian Canadian Memorial). Follow the Zonnebekestraat into the village to the traffic lights, go straight over at the lights into Klerkenstraat.

The monument is situated in Beekstraat, the road immediately after the German Military Cemetery at Langemark.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.924180 2.913273 Map

34th Division memorial at Langemark

 

Background

The checkerboard was the symbol of the Division and can be found on all of its monuments.

The machine-gun bunker was part of the same line of defence (Wilhelm-Stellung) as those that can be seen in Langemark Soldatenfriedhof.

The loopholes are aimed towards Cannes Farm on the hillside opposite and along the Broenbeek itself.

On the 16th August 1917 the 29th Division (Part of XIV Corps) began their assault from just south of the Bikschotestraat running out of Langemark. A thunderstorm on the night of the 14th had done little to enhance the state of the ground. The Broenbeek stream, on the far side of the road from the memorial, became a small river due to the constant rain, and the ground was so churned by the shells that these bunkers were all that didn’t sink into the mire and mud.

The objective of taking Langemark was achieved and on their left the French First Army took all of its objectives reaching the Kortebeek stream.

CQMS William Grimbaldston and CSM John Skinner (Both 1st Bn KOSB) were awarded the Victoria Cross for their part in the fighting. Grimbaldston survived the war but Skinner was killed in 1918 and is buried in Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery.

And the rain continued. On the 4th October 1917 the 29th Division advanced again and now faced the Broenbeek valley. The Guards Division moved up on their left. Five days later the Broenbeek was crossed with far less difficulty than had been envisaged with many of the planks and light bridges that had been constructed for the occasion not being needed. They continued to the top of the ridge at Veldhoek.

Having reached the edge of Houthulst Forest the Guards Division became the only Division to achieve all of its objectives during the war.

In October the 34th Division came to the XIV Corps and they took part in the preliminary operations for the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele on the 20th October.

The bunker was not only used as a command post it was also employed as an Advanced Dressing Station under the command of Captain Robert Lawrence RAMC the brother of T E Lawrence (Better known to most people as Lawrence of Arabia).

All of this area was retaken by the Germans during their Spring Offensive in 1918. It was re-captured on the 28th September 1918 by the Belgians.

 

The Monument

34th Division memorial at Langemark

It should be noted that the memorial is not to the entire Division but only the Engineers and Artillery. The 34th Division Flanders Memorial is at Mont Noir in France.

The main inscription on the obelisk reads :

To the glory of God
And in memory of
The Officers, Warrant and
Non Commissioned Officers
And men of the Artillery
And Engineers of the 34th
British Division who fought
Near this spot
October — November 1917

On the sides are detailed the units involved.