The Western Front Today - Hooge Crater

A major theme park today sits on the site of Hooge Chateau, the then Divisional Headquarters of Major General Monro.  The Chateau (which formerly hosted both Sir John French and Sir Douglas Haig) was destroyed in a German attack which began on 31 October 1914.  On that date the chateau took a direct hit from a German shell, wounding Major-General Monro and killing several of his staff officers.

Next to the theme park and accompanying hotel, Hotel Kasteel (the latter roughly situated on the site of the original chateau), is a pond formed by a crater from a mine blown by the British on 19 July 1915.

The pond crater is to the left of the hotel and theme park, and blockhouses (dating from 1916) can still be found nearby, partly submerged under water.

Hooge is also famed for being the site of the first German flame thrower attack against the British.  Using 'Flammenwerfer' equipment - a cylinder strapped to the back of one man, attached to which was a lit nozzle, producing a jet of flame reaching up to 25 yards in length, thick black smoke billowing - the Germans launched a surprise attack at 0315 on 30 July 1915.

The effect of the dangerous nature of the surprise attack proved terrifying to the British, although the line, initially pushed back, was stabilised later that night by 8th Rifle Brigade and 7th Bn KRRC.

In two days of severe fighting the British lost 31 officers and 751 other ranks.

Next to the crater is a recently opened museum, Hooge Crater Museum, situated on the former No Man's Land at Hooge.

Under private ownership this modern, clean museum contains an outstanding collection of WW1 memorabilia, including armour, equipment, uniforms and artefacts - and even wooden posts originally located at Hellfire Corner.

Opposite both Hooge Crater and the Museum is Hooge Crater cemetery.

Film Footage of Hooge Crater (1)

Film Footage of Hooge Crater (2)

Before Endeavours Fade, Rose E.B. Coombs, After the Battle 1994
Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide - Somme, Leo Cooper 2000

French tanks were used for the first time in battle on 17 April 1917, when the 'Char Schneider' (as they were known) was used during the Second Battle of the Aisne.

- Did you know?