Great War Tank Hunt in Ieper

Next weekend archaeologists will be hunting for tanks in what is called the ‘Great War tank cemetery of Hooge’ in Ieper.

The event is good news for anybody eager to witness at first hand the excavation of a tank.  In the years after the Great War the tank cemetery in Ieper was one of the local sights. Postcards and photos from this age show that the cemetery was a prime destination for the first Great War tourists and people making the trip to honour fallen relatives.

What will remain of the tanks left in the West Flemish mud 100 years on?  Nobody knows, but we should all get a clearer picture on Saturday and Sunday when archaeologists set to work.  Air photography from 1917 shows the outlines of five tanks in the landscape.  No tanks are expected to be found intact, but parts certainly will, e.g. tank tread or rows of rivets.  Two of five locations are being examined next weekend.

Everything that will be found this weekend will be given a place in an exhibition that opens next year in the Hooge Crater Museum. The exhibition will be about the reconstruction of this corner of West Flanders and about the tourism that started after the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

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