2018 The Final Offensives and the end of the Great War

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 — In the spring of 1918, the German forces began the Spring Offensive, a series of major attacks along the Western Front. In Flanders, in April, the Lys Offensive (Fourth Battle of Ypres) saw the Germans retake much of the ground that had been won by the Allies at such cost the previous autumn. Messines Ridge and the villages of Wytschaete and Messines were lost, then the village of Passchendaele before finally the Germans took Kemmel Hill, Ypres came close to falling but the city remained defiant, and by the end of April the German onslaught had been halted.

On St George’s Day, 23 April 1918, the British launched naval raids on Zeebrugge and Ostend, the strategic base for German operations, to block the entrances to the harbours and inflict as much damage as possible upon both ports. One hour of intense fighting resulted in more medals for bravery than any other battle in Britain’s entire military history.

The Americans who fought in Flanders, arrived in Europe in June and July 1918. A new visitor centre in Waregem, has a permanent exhibition about the role of the Americans in WWI.

In August, the Allies began the Hundred Days Offensive which would ultimately end with the signing of the Armistice. General Foch, the Supreme Allied Commander, decided to launch three separate attacks on the German lines. King Albert of Belgium, with a force of British, French and Belgian troops, successfully attacked through Flanders Fields. Starting on 28 September, the Battle of Ypres 1918, ‘The Battle of the Peaks’, recaptured the ground lost during the Lys Offensive. It took just three days to advance ten miles and for the familiar landmarks of four years of fighting to be back in Allied hands.

By mid-October, the success of Allied operations along the line from Nieuwpoort to Verdun meant that the Salient had seen its last fighting. Allied soldiers broke out of their long-held foothold in Flanders and pushed the German Army back to the eastern Belgian border. At 11am on 11 November the fighting stopped on the Western Front.

Visualise 600,000 handmade sculptures across no man’s land!

ComingWorldRememberMe - Art Installation

30 March to 11 November 2018

No man’s land, Palingbeek near Ypres

On March 30 2018, 600,000 handmade sculptures* created for the Coming World Remember Me art installation, will be set up in Palingbeek park (Zillebeke) between two large works of art by Flemish artist, Koen Vanmechelen. Its effect will be to create a land art installation which will be spread out over no man’s land and “The Bluff”, site of one of the most intensive battles ever in Flanders, From April 2018 until November, the land art installation will be complemented by war poetry as well as a walk via an observation bridge, offering a wonderful view of what will be an impressive visual art installation. The dog tags with each victim’s name and the person who created it will become part of a permanent memorial on this site.

*The sculptures have been made by visitors to Flanders Fields and at workshops with schoolchildren in Canada and London, since August 2014.  Each sculpture represents one of the 600,000 victims who lost their lives due to WWI in Belgium.www.cwrm.be

WW1, The Battle For The North Sea

23 April to 30 August 2018

Provincial Court, Bruges

Given the region’s exceptional strategic importance as a base of operations for naval and aerial battles in the North Sea, the German occupying forces installed a vast network of ports, artillery batteries, bunkers and airfields in this area. Operating from the ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge, they sank no fewer than 2,550 allied ships. Eventually, this intense submarine warfare partly triggered the American decision to join WWI. As the former headquarters of the Marinekorps Flandern, the Provincial Court in Bruges provides the ideal backdrop for the exhibition ‘WWI, the Battle for the North Sea’, Using historical artefacts and never-before-seen illustrations, this exhibition aims to shed light on the little-known story of the war at sea and the essential role of Bruges as the nerve centre of the entire operation.

Exhibition: The Final Offensive in Flanders

21 April to 11 November 2018

Villa Zonnedaele, In the Chateau grounds of Zonnebeke

This exhibition will take place in three parts, in three different locations (Memorial Museum Passchendaele (MMP) Zonnebeke, HIPPO.WAR Waregem, and the Heuvelland Visitor Centre), which are connected via a tourist route. It will tell the story of the last year of the First World War and of the Liberation in which Belgian and US troops played an important role. The main focus in the MMP Zonnebeke is the liberation of Zonnebeke and Passchendaele by Belgian troops. The role of King Albert I during this offensive will also be explained.

The new visitor centre at Waregem will host the exhibition HIPPO.WAR paying special attention to the liberation of Waregem and to the offensive between the Lys and the Scheldt during the last days of the First World War.

Healing Exhibition

30 June to 2 September 2018

Poperinge

Poperinge concludes the WWI commemorations with a message of hope and consolation. During the summer of 2018, healing features as a central theme.  The exhibition  entitled “Not in Khaki” tells the story of the wide range of women involved in WW1 , from nurses to prostitutes, all of whom provided the world with comfort in some way, Contemporary artist Chantal Pollier enhances the exhibition with a selection of artful statements. In collaboration with  the art festival Watou, a “comfort route” has also been developed, taking the visitor via consoling pavilions, decorated with healing art and poetry. www.poperinge14-18.be

HIPPO.WAR Waregem

Waregem visitor centre

On 11 November 2017 the Waregem visitor centre dedicated to World War I opened. There are two permanent exhibitions: firstly the role of the Americans in World War I and secondly the role of horses in that same war. Two themes that are perfectly connected to Waregem, being a city passionate about horses and with the Flanders Field American Cemetery located in Waregem. By means of photographs, film clips and audio files, authentic pieces, an interactive quiz and even a reconstructed horse hospital, all provides an opportunity to discover some not too familiar stories from The Great War. www.hippowar.be