1917, Total War in Flanders

1917

In the footsteps of Bernhard Johann te Löken (DE)

Bernard Johann te LökenBernhard Johann te Löken was born in 1885 in Rheine, Germany, where he later lived and worked as a weaver. In 1912, he married Aleida Bekker and they had two children. When war broke out, he enlisted with the army and was posted as a 'Landssturmmann' (territorial reservist) to the 7th Reserve Infantry Regiment

During the Third Battle of Ypres, his regiment was sent to the front in Flanders. On 20 September 1917, the Allies (including the 9th Battalion, Scottish Rifles and the 17th Battalion Australian Infantry) launched an attack known as the Battle of the Menin Road. Later the same day, Bernhard's unit took part in a counterattack to recover the lost ground. By the time darkness fell, the Germans had been forced to pull back to a new position ('Grotemolen-Süd', now on the Lotegatstraat between Polygon Wood and Zonnebeke). During the night the German troops were continually bombarded by enemy shellfire and Bernhard was wounded in the head and chest, wounds from which he died the next day. He is now commemorated in the German military cemetery in Langemark.

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Day programme

  • 10.00 – 10.45: 
    • Langemark German Military Cemetery 
      Soldatenfriedhof LangemarkThe German military cemetery in Langemark is one of four large German concentration cemeteries in Belgium. This particular cemetery is sometimes called the 'Studentenfriedhof' (Students' Cemetery) - a reference to the many young German volunteers who died nearby during the First Battle of Ieper in 1914. More than 44,300 German soldiers are now buried here, including Bernhard Johann te Löken. More than half of them are contained in the mass grave near the entrance to the cemetery. About 17,000 of the victims in this grave could be identified and their names are recorded on the blocks that surround the burial area. 
      Klerkenstraat 84 – 8920 Langemark (Langemark-Poelkapelle)
       
  • 11.00 – 12.00: 
    • Tyne Cot Cemetery
      Tyne Cot Cemetery - ZonnebekeThis Commonwealth cemetery is the most important witness to the bloody Battle of Passendale. Almost 12,000 soldiers are buried here, including 4 Germans. The Tyne Cot Memorial at the back of the cemetery records the names of a further 35,000 soldiers who died after 15 August 1917 and have no known grave. The nearby visitors centre offers a unique view across the old battlefields and tells in words and images the poignant story of Tyne Cot Cemetery and the dead of the Passendale offensive. As part of the project '1917, Total War in Flanders', an interactive panorama panel tells the equally tragic story of the landscape in 1917. 
      Tynecotstraat 22 - 8980 Passendale (Zonnebeke)
       
  • 12.15 – 12.45:
    • German command bunker 
      Duitse commandopostThis bunker dating from 1916 illustrates the skill with which the Germans built their defensive positions in Flanders during the First World War. The site can be visited free of charge.
      Gaverstraat - 8980 Zandvoorde (Zonnebeke)
       
  • 13.00: Lunch
     
  • 14.30 – 16.30: 
    • In Flanders Fields Museum
      Interior In Flanders Fields MuseumThis museum is the gateway to the First World War in Flanders and tells the story of that terrible war in the front region. The temporary exhibition '1917, Total War in Flanders' gives the visitor, amongst other things, a general introduction to the Mine Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of Ieper. An important role in the exhibition is given to the works of the Australian war photographers Frank Hurley and Hubert Williams, as well as to the reworked contemporary images of Ian Alderman. 
      Lakenhallen (Cloth Hall) – Grote Markt 34 – 8900 Ieper
       
  • 16.45 – 17.30:
    • Bayernwald
      BayernwaldIn Heuvelland, in part of what was once Croonaert Wood, a section of the old German trench system can still be seen. The Germans capture this location in 1914 and named it 'Bayernwald' (Bavaria Wood). The site still contains two of the original listening shafts, which were made because of fears that the British were digging mines deep under the ground. From these shafts, the Germans could listen for sounds of the British miners at work. Bayernwald was reconstructed on the basis of detailed archaeological research and shows roughly 10% of the defences that were sited here during the war. 
      Voormezelestraat 2 - 8953 Wijtschate (Heuvelland)
      Please note: tickets only available via Heuvelland Tourism.

 

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