The name Zonnebeke probably rings very few bells in British ears, but almost everyone has heard of its neighbouring village: Passendale or Passchendaele (old spelling). The chateau of Zonnebeke now houses the impressive Passchendaele 1917 Memorial Museum. Not far away, cresting the ridge which separates the two villages, stands Tyne Cot Cemetery – the largest Commonwealth military cemetery in the world. It was here in 1917 that the British army fought for 4 long months in a desperate bid to break the German line. They advanced just 8 kilometres at a cost of almost 400,000 killed, wounded and missing. Little wonder that the village was known to the troops as ‘Passion Dale’ – the Valley of Suffering. Like most villages in the region, Passendale was rebuilt after the armistice and is now well- known for its cheese. A Cheese Museum highlights the development of this new industry and each year the village holds its own Cheese Festival. The neighbouring village of Beselare is more concerned with witchcraft than with cheese, and every two years organises a ‘spine-chilling’ Witches Pageant.
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