Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Polygon Wood - Somme Trip March 2013

Catching an early ferry gave us time to stop off at a few sites in the Ypres area on our way down to the Somme. One site visited was Polygon Wood.

By the time of the Third Battle of Ypres 1917, Polygon Wood was a German Strongpoint comprising of pillboxes and trenches.

Above: Two images of the area just after Polygon Wood was captured showing the devastation.  In the top image the Butte (old shooting Butte used by the Belgium Army) can be seen in the background. The second image shows troops of the 7th Brigade holding a series of isolated craters and trenches.

 At one corner of the wood a shooting Butte used by the Belgium Army until 1870 had been fortified by the Germans with machine guns, tunnels and dugouts. It was also a key observation point, with the trees gone, shattered by shellfire.

As part of Third Ypres, the Australian 5th Division attacked and captured the wood on 26th Sept 1917. This was the one of the Division's best achievements during the War and that lead to the decision to erect the Divisional Memorial at the wood. The Memorial was designed by Maj. Gen. J J Talbot Hobbs, who commanded the Division during the battle and was an architect prior to the War, and was erected on the Butte.

Above: The Butte in the 1920's and today. The Memorial to the Australian 5th Div was erected on top of the Butte.

Today remains of some of the concrete blockhouses and shelters, both German and British, can be seen in the Wood.  There are also two cemeteries - Polygon Wood Cemetary and Buttes New British Cemetery.

Above: Some of the concrete remains in the Wood. Top two are remains of the German fortifications while the third and forth image are British shelters constructed after the capture of the Wood. Bottom image shows another relic of the battle, an unexploded shell on the edge of the Wood.

Above: Polygon Wood Cemetery, used from Nov 1917 to Sept 1918. Records 44 U.K., 59 New Zealand and one German burials. Top and middle image shows the cemetery today and the 1920's. In the bottom image both the cemetary and the Australian Memorial on the Butte can be seen.

Above: Buttes New Cemetery. Created after the Armistice. Records 1,317 U.K., 561 Australian, 167 New Zealand and 48 Canadian burials.

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