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Webmatters : 14th (Light) Division Memorial at Hill 60

14th (Light) Division

Location

The Hill 60 memorial park at Zillebeke is easily reached from Ieper or the French border.

From Ieper come out of the Rijselpoort and continue straight across at the roundabout onto the N365 following the signs for Rijsel (Flemish for Lille).

Within a short distance you will come to a railway crossing with a Belgian Military Barracks and the road to Mont Kemmel on your right. This crossroads was known as Shrapnel Corner during the war and was under constant bombardment.

Immediately before the railway line is a road off to the left, alongside the railway, and signposted to a number of CWGC Cemeteries.

Take this road and continue towards Zillebeke passing Railway Dugouts Cemetery on your right. You cross over the railway and continue on for two kilometres until you see a sign for Hill 60 directing you off to the left and back over the railway.

From France via either Bailleul/Kemmel or Armentières/Ploegsteert follow the directions for Ieper. Near Voormezele you will reach the Barracks and see the Railway crossing. Coming from Ploegsteert you have to cross the railway and turn immediately right.

Hill 60, the 14th (Light) Division Monument

14th (Light) Division Memorial at the car park

Just over the bridge there is parking space immediately in front of the Light Division Memorial.

Immediately to the left of the parking area is a small enclosure containing the memorial to the 1st Australian Tunnellers. The entrance to the Hill 60 Memorial Park is further along to the left.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.823997 2.928141 Map

 

Background

In 1915 the Division was located around Hooge just to the east of Ieper. The area by Spring 1915 had already seen the development of underground mining warfare and a number of large craters had been created.

On 30th July 1915 Hooge became the backdrop for the deployment of a new weapon by the Germans. The French had already been acquainted with the German Flammenwerfen which consisted of a cylinder of fuel strapped to a soldier. A walking petrol pump if you would. A soldier ignited the fuel which could then be fired in jets up to 25 metres.

Not the safest of weapons to be carrying I am sure, but one which wreaked havoc amongst the enemy.

The Germans had been pummelling the British front line at Hooge for some time and the trenches were reduced to tatters. Then at 0315 hours the 8th Rifle Brigade (Which is a battalion by the way — don’t be deceived by its title of Brigade) who were holding the northern edge of the step and the crater were subjected to an onslaught by the Germans deploying Flame-throwers.

The Germans were now sweeping the Riflemen out of their trenches and pushing eastwards in the act of taking men from the 7 KRRC (King’s Royal Rifle Corps — again a battalion) from both rear and the front as a second attack was launched westwards by the Germans. The British were in danger of being trapped like the filling of a sandwich.

Counter attacks by the British amounted to very little and 7 KRRC were forced to retire into the northern edge of Sanctuary Wood. The line was held but for the moment Hooge Château and Crater were in the hands of the Germans.

 

The Memorial

The memorial was moved from its former location at Railway Wood a few kilometres to the north — in the area where you will find the CWGC Royal Engineers Grave — because of subsidence.

Its panel lists those battalions who made up its strength including units from :

KRRC, Rifle Brigade, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, Somerset Light Infantry, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

The battle honours of the Division are listed,including Ypres, the Somme and Arras.

The KRRC memorial cross can be seen just next to the Hooge Museum at the entrance to the Bellewaerde Amusement Park.

 

The other memorials at Hill 60