I have long been aware that the place I walk the dog every day used to be another world. The same landscape but overwritten by different people, different buildings, events caught by cameras a hundred years ago. For ten years or more I have been collecting photographs and images of these lost worlds.
This website is intended as an extension of the account of a year in the Palingbeek presented in the book “Palingbeek 1915”. That is an account of the events of 1915 and the world of the soldiers fighting in the two square kilometres under examination. What it is not is a “Then and Now” book. That will be taken care of here. The world shown in these old photographs is in some ways still present, under grave threat of unintentional destruction, and at the same time it is almost unimaginable that what can now be seen could have been so different 100 years ago.
I intend to offer here everything I have collected and found out about the area, and anyone who can contribute further would be greatly welcomed. This photo collection has come together over many years and it has been a struggle with my better nature to decide to post everything I have at reasonable quality on this public site. But what honour do we give to the soldiers who fought and died here if we take their photos and put them in a drawer?
My thanks go to Philip Woets, the expert curator of all that ‘was’ Hollebeke. He has always unquestioningly offered to share anything in his collection and these pages would not be the same without him.
All my seeming expertise about the frantic days of fierce fighting over this small area from 26th to 28th May 1940 is in reality the work if Iain Miskimmin. His years of research on what is almost all a Palingbeek subject is here: Royal Scots Fusiliers 1940. I didn’t have to do a thing! His work will never be improved apon.
There is nobody alive who knows more about the history of the ill-fated canal than Lieven Stubbe, all my information which touches on this on this comes from him. Read the whole story in his book “ Van Tragedie tot Trekpleister“.
Nick Yeomans and his colleagues and various contributors to the Great War Forum are wholly responsible for the research on the tank ‘Slippery Sam’, which was abandoned near the White Chateau. I hope that there will soon be a website to link to.
If you have anything to add in the way of photographs, corrections or insights, please use the forum, or write to me – email: Hugh at palingbeektimemachine.eu or via the Palingbeek 1915 Facebook page.
You can also buy the deluxe coffee table book that is Palingbeek 1915. This describes the outbreak of war in this sector in 1914 drawing on French, German and British sources, and life in these surroundings through 1915 accompanied by numerous photographs. I’m finished with that now – Palingbeek 1916, a very different year, is the next project. I hope this website will generate enough interest that I don’t end up using the unsold copies to insulate the loft!
Lots of love,