The Department of Veterans’ Affairs Australia, with the assistance of the Government of Flanders, the municipality of Zonnebeke and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 will hold a Dawn Service to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September 2017.
The national commemorative service in Belgium will be conducted at the Buttes New British Cemetery which is located 2 km south of the Belgian village of Zonnebeke and 9 km east of the city of Ieper.
Buttes New British Cemetery is situated within Polygon Wood and prominently features the ‘Butte de Polygone’, one of the primary objectives of the battle fought by the Australians on 26 September 1917. Placed on top of the ‘Butte’ is the 5th Australian Division’s Memorial, the only divisional memorial in Belgium. Also contained within the cemetery is a memorial dedicated to the memory of the 378 New Zealanders who died during actions within Polygon Wood but who have no known grave. Of the 2,108 soldiers buried in the cemetery, which includes 560 Australians, over 1,600 are unidentified. The cemetery was built after the war and contains the remains of soldiers consolidated from irregular, front line cemeteries in the area.
Adjacent to Buttes New British Cemetery is the Polygon Wood Cemetery which is an irregular, front line cemetery which contains the remains of 107 soldiers, predominately from New Zealand and the United Kingdom, who were buried there at the time of battles
Registration (free) is required. All details about the registration and practical information can be found on the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs Australia
Beside the official service, the community of Zonnebeke and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, in cooperation with the Flemish Government, offers a range of themed activities.
After the service at Buttes New British cemetery, the Australian government will provide shuttles back to carpark C Bellewaerde, where people can collect their cars and drive to the Passchendaele Memorial Park, Berten Pilstraat 5C, 8980 Zonnebeke.
A breakfast will be offered between 8 AM and 10 AM to a maximum of 500 guests. The breakfast will be held in the marquee at Passchendaele Memorial Park, next to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. Tickets (7€) for the breakfast can be purchased through our website www.passchendaele.be/tickets
Guests will have the chance to visit the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 , At this day, the museum will be opened already from 8 AM. The museum closes at 6PM (last entrance at 4.30PM).
On the occasion of “100 years Battle of Passchendaele”, a unique original underground WW1 construction, The Zonnebeke Church Dugout, is temporarily opened. The dugout is situated next to the church of Zonnebeke, located at the Passchendaele Memorial Park. The underground complex is one of the best preserved dugouts in the region because the Allies built the dugout beneath the foundations of the former church. The structure consists of a main gallery of nearly 29 meters long, side corridors, five rooms and two access stairs and is about 5 meters underground. Guest can reserve tickets for the museum and the dugout in advance on www.passchendaele.be/tickets.
Between 9 AM and 1 PM, shuttle trains will drive guests from Passchendaele Memorial Park to CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery and back. The shuttles will drive every 20 minutes, so guests can hop on at any time. A small admission of 1€ is asked. Registration for this service is not required.With nearly 12,000 buried soldiers, CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Dizzying rows of white gravestones line the grass, overlooking sweeping views of the bucolic countryside. The site’s surrounding wall is a memorial to the missing, bearing the name of nearly 35,000 men, that were never found and presumed dead.
In the afternoon, guided walks will be held from Passchendaele Memorial Park to Tyne Cot Cemetery. Along the ‘ Australian Road to Passchendaele’, you will be told the history of the Australian troops at Passchendaele. In addition, figurants will be evocating personal stories of Australians who fought on this trail 100 years ago.
The tour will be offered for 50 pax per group and will depart at five different timings: After the walk (4 kms), guests will have the opportunity to visit Tyne Cot cemetery and will be shuttled back to the Passchendaele Memorial Park. The program will last for 2 hours. Guests can pre-purchase tickets (5€) through www.passchendaele.be/tickets.