1917, Total War in Flanders

1917

In the footsteps of the Seabrooks (AUS)

The Seabrook brothersThe Australian brothers Theo Leslie, George Ross and William Keith Seabrook decided to join the army in 1916. After their training, they were posted to the 17th Infantry Battalion A.I.F. (2nd Australian Division). On 20 September 1917, their unit took part in the Battle of the Menin Road.

Even before he reached the front line, William Keith was badly wounded by shellfire at Hellfire Corner. He was evacuated to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station, where he died of his wounds the next day. He is buried in the nearby Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

Theo Leslie and George Ross were able to reach the front line, but both were killed during the subsequent attack later that day. Most of the surviving witnesses suggest that they were last seen alive near Anzac House (at the intersection of the Lotegatstraat and the Grote Molenstraat in Zonnebeke), which means that they had advanced quite far. Their bodies were never found and both brothers are commemorated on the Menin Gate.

Initially, there was some confusion about their fate, but on 4 December 1917 it was confirmed that all three brothers had died. Notwithstanding this confirmation and her receipt of three Death Plaques, their mother continued to believe until her own death in 1929 that George Ross was still alive, but had lost his memory.

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ITINERARY

  • Villa Zonnedaele - Zonnebeke10.00 – 12.00:
    • Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
      This museum perpetuates the everlasting memory of the bloody Battle of Passendale. As part of the project '1917, Total War in Flanders', the 'Villa Zonnedaele' Mansion is the setting for a thematic exhibition entitled 'Passchendaele, a landscape in war', which explains the crucial role played by the devastated landscape during the Battle of Passendale.
      Berten Pilstraat 5 - 8980 Zonnebeke
       
  • 12.00 – 13.30: lunch
     
  • 13.30 – 14.30:
    • Polygon Wood
      Buttes New British CemeteryIn the heart of Polygon Wood stand Buttes New British Cemetery and the New Zealand Memorial, commemorating 383 missing soldiers of the New Zealand Division. On top of the butte itself, there is a memorial to the memory of the 5th Australian Division. The wood also contains several wartime bunkers. On the other side of the road stands the smaller Polygon Wood Cemetery. On 'Buttes New British Cemetery', a Dawn Service is held every year on ANZAC Day (25 April).
      Lange Dreve 5 – 8980 Zonnebeke
       
  • 15.00 – 15.30:
    • The Menin Gate
      Menin Gate, IeperThis monument is the most famous Commonwealth war memorial in Flanders. Its stone panels carry the names of 54,896 soldiers from the 'Salient', who were listed as 'missing in action' and therefore have no known grave. The names are those of British soldiers who died between August 1914 and 15 August 1917, and the soldiers from British overseas territories (with the exception of New Zealand) who died throughout the war, including Theo Leslie and George Ross Seabrook.
      Menenstraat - 8900 Ieper
       
  • 16.00 – 17.00:
    • Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery Visitors Centre, PoperingeLijssenthoek Military Cemetery
      From 1915 to 1920 the hamlet of Lijssenthoek was the site of the biggest British evacuation hospital in the Ieper Salient. Today the cemetery is a silent witness to the cost of more than four years of war. 10,784 victims of the fighting are buried here, including William Keith Seabrook. As part of the project '1917, Total War in Flanders', an info-module tells the story of the preparations for the Third Battle of Ieper and explains how this hospital complex came to be so large.
      Boescheepseweg 35 – 8970 Poperinge

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