Wormhoudt Massacre Site
Wormhoudt is 1Km south east of
Esqeulecq near the D17 Rue de Wormhout. 50 degrees 52 minutes 47.26N 2
degrees 26 minutes 36.80E.
www.esquelbecq.com, click here for more information
"Lest we forget"
1/8-Memorial site of la Plaine au Bois and the Massacre Barn.
In 2000 the meadow where this tradegy took place was saved from destruction by the Franco-British Association.
2/8-"The sacred Tree"
A pollared poplar dating from before May 1940. It was the nearest tree to the massacre barn, a cowshed destroyed in about 1960.
In 1972, British veterans who fought in the area rediscovered the site and placed crosses there. It became a place of pilgrimage and proud witness to the thousands of veterans who come to pay homage to the victims.
3/8-A cowshed into which about a hundred prisoners were packed like sardines in the late afternoon of Tuesday 28th May 1940. Twelve members of the SS second Battalion under the command of Wilhelm Monhke began the slaughter by throwing five grenades into the barn. A British Captain, Lynn Allen decided to try to escape, taking with him Bert Evans who was injured, his arm almost severed in the explosion.
Running along close to the hedge, keeping their heads down to avoid the gunfire of the SS, the two men arrived at a pond.
In the cowshed the bloodbath continued. As the SS had failed to kill everyone, two groups of five survivors were taken outside and callously shot in the back.
A storm broke out at that moment and killing intensified, bursts of gunfire mowing down men so far unhurt, the wounded and those who were already dead. Out of about 100 prisoners, about 15 survived. On Friday May 31st they were discovered and cared for. For several of the group, it was sadly too late; they died as the SS left the scene.
4/8-"The Mercier Farm"
This farm belonged to the owner of the meadow where the massacre took place.
On the morning of May 28th 1940, his two daughters came to milk the cows and soon found themselves in the thick of the fighting. One of them fled from the barn, terrified, to return to the farm. In the afternoon, their father, M.Mercier came to look for his second daughter by crawling along ditches shortly before the fighting ended and the prisoners captured at Wormhout were brought here to be executed.
5/8-"The pond at la Plaine au bois"
As they were escaping, Lynn Allen and Bert Evans arrived to this pond and dived into it. An SS arrived, pointed his pistol at the British Captain and in cold blood shot him through the head. He also aimed at Evans who was shot in the neck. He collapsed into the water as if dead.
After several minutes, Evans crawled out of the water and made his way to the Bollengier farm where he arrived in the evening. A doctor gave first aid. He was taken to hospital where his arm was amputated.
In 2005, Bert Evans was still alive and visits the site every year.
The body of the Captain was never found. The pond was cleared and the contents form the foundation on the Belvedere which is now his tomb.
Inaugrated on 28th May 2004, this commemorative mound was created using material from the original pond and earth excavated to make a second new pond.
From the top there is a panoramic view over the plain and of Mont Cassel - also the scene of fierce defensive fighting from May 27th - 30th.
"In memory of
the soldiers and civilians who died during the second world war in this area of Flanders as victims of the Nazis.
Let us remember
the allied soldiers who were killed or injured during the fighting, the British and French prisoners who were murdered here in 1940, the civilian victims of the towns of Wormhout, Esquelbecq and Ledringham, the members of the Resistance Movement who died in concerntration camps or were shot by firing squad and the population who suffered through 1562 long days of occupation, requisition and privation"
7/8-"The Fort Rose Farm"
Situated at Ledringham, a village which was bravely defended from May 27th - 29th by the 5th Glosters, it was the headquarters of A Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Warwickshires on the morning of May 28th then at the end of the day it fell into the hands of the SS.
The British soldiers were assembled in this farmyard before being marched across the fields to the barn at la Plaine au bois where most of them were murdered.
8/8-"The Bollengier Farm"
In May 1940, this was a French Army Depot, guarded by a soldier, Robert Vanpee, born in nearby Quaedypre.
May 28th 1940, after having rescued Sepp Dietrich, head of The Leibstandarte, the SS occupied the farm and one of the SS perched on a tank was shot.
The Nazis lined up the whole Bollengier against a wall. The soldier Vanpee surrendered and was taken into a field and shot. His body was discovered in the summer 1941 with 35 British soldiers in a common grave near the barn.
He now rests in the British cemetery at Esquelbecq, alongside his comrades of the Warwickshire and Cheshire Regiments and the Royal Artillery.
"In remembrance of those soldiers of The Royal Artillery, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment and The Chesire Regiment who were slain by troops of the SS Leibstandarte in and around a barn which stood on this site on May 28th 1940.
This barn is a faithful recreation of the original building and stands as a monument to the memory of those men who died on that day.
We remember them"
"Forgive, but Never Forget"