From the Dyle Line to the Sea...

Discussion in '1940' started by Rich Payne, Jun 30, 2021.

  1. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    ....with a few 'Then & Nows' on the way.

    With there having been no Dynamo 80th commemorations last year and little hope of any events this time either, a couple of us put a short trip together on 1939 WD motorcycles from the forward positions along the Dyle taken up on 11th May back to the coast at De (La) Panne, guided by surviving images showing British vehicles.

    It's quite a lot to do in one hit so I'll post per day's ride.

    Mielen-boven-Aalst...Very briefly the forward HQ of the Hopkinson Mission who appear to have photographed their Morris-Commercial 8cwt from one of the upper windows as refugees passed by.

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    The location is confirmed by the subsequent photo as the card rounded the bend beside the parish hall.

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    In Outgarden, a CWGC plate indicated the graves of a 4 Squadron Lysander crew killed on 13th May so we stopped briefly.

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    Past Leuven which I have looked at in detail before and down the Dyle valley to the line held by The Royal Welch Fusiliers.

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    ..and then south of Brussels to Waterloo where a Vickers MkVI was abandoned.

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    The café still is but only the upper windows are recognisable. By this time, the heavens had opened and the carefully prepared copy photos were turning to pulp so guesswork came into play.

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    We stayed overnight close to Asse so that we could begin on Sunday morning with a look at the scene of 15th /19th Hussars engagement on 18th May 1940.
     
  2. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Sunday morning saw us in Teralfene where 4th Gordons had abandoned some of their transport outside the church.

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    The Rijkswacht of 1939 put in an appearance too.

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    Asse Gemeenteplein where a Vickers MkVI and a Norton 16H were damaged and abandoned.

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    ..and on to the Stationstraat where a motorcyclist from 14 Anti Tank Regiment was killed and his damaged Norton abandoned in the road. By this point, we had attracted the attention of a passing Police motorcyclist who kindly escorted us and safely regulated the traffic so we could line the bike up.

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    Having started on the River Dyle, we now moved on from the River Dende to the Schelde / Escaut where two Bren Gun Carriers were destroyed in Avelgem.



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    On via Menen to the Menenpoort / Menin Gate at Ieper / Ypres where a 2 pdr anti tank gun was positioned in may 1940.

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  3. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    A spot of Great War now as we stayed overnight at Talbot House...Poperinge and Ieper are of course devoid of British tourists at the moment and accommodation and a café table are not a problem to find. At one point, I think it was just us and the cat there. The CWGC cemeteries are still impeccably maintained, but Hill 60 and Lijssenthoek were pretty well deserted when we stopped briefly.
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    The BEF of 1940 did apparently visit too.
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  4. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Monday was De Panne day. The furthest point of the trip but still with some other locations to visit and as we had done the BEF route in reverse, we still had to go all the way back. Rain threatened for a long time, but there was no repeat of the soaking we had the day before.
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    The Zeedijk has been decimated by modern building and the one old house which we had used for research on Streetview has been demolished since Google was there in 2017. This is the correct location though, sadly devoid of reference points.

    A 1940 Civ. imp Nortons De Panne Corps Tps 29 blue- spare RE   34 Red spare MC Btn..jpg
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    We couldn't get to Dunkirk, so used a little artistic licence for a BSA M20 beach scene. Still more authentic than Christopher Nolan though. :-P

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    On to Westouter to revist the scene of the guns and Scammells used to block the road against the horse-drawn French column who were crossing 61 Medium Regiment's route.

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    It's quite possible by this point that 'Then and Now' fatigue was setting in. Most other forms were !

    Final call of the day was Proven where 2nd Infantry Division abandoned much of their transport.

    FireShot Webpage Screenshot #008 - 'ontdek de beelden' - westhoekverbeeldt.jpg
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    Although the barns have gone and there is building work in progress on the coach house behind, the concrete post and finial are still there.

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    The last day of the trip was all the way back again. Around 470 miles in total over four days which on Belgian minor roads with sections of pavé and lots of jointed concrete was about as much as I'd want to do without planning in a rest day. Both the motorcycles are 1939 models. The BSA got a little water in the magneto after standing in the rain all night but apart from that they were trouble free.

    If the borders open at some point, then the next trip will have to take in France.
     
  5. battleofassche

    battleofassche Well-Known Member

    Well done Rich!!

    Thanks for the Assche, (Asse), and Teralphene, (Teralfene) photos.
     
    JimHerriot and CL1 like this.
  6. Smithy

    Smithy Junior Member

    Great stuff Rich. Thanks very much for sharing these images.

    For those of us here in the UK this helps keep us in touch with the locations on the continent that we haven't been able to visit for some time now.
     
    John West, JimHerriot and Rich Payne like this.
  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Well-Known Member

    What a wonderful record, many people were talking of doing a "Pilgrimage" following the route their forbears took. It all of course went down the pan.
    Of the ten families that I am in contact with most of them had relatives who were in the Dunkirk Veterans Association. They did several visits to De Panne and Dunkirk from 1995 to 2005 when they last met. One of them survives, he was 100 last September.
    This should raise enthusiasm for a future trip.
    (Is that you looking like your avatar).
    Many thanks for your posting.
     
  8. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers, Uncle T. We didn't try to follow any particular route, but focussed on the 'Then & Now' locations from photos I had on file to string it together. From the Hopkinson HQ in front of the Dyle, we went back to 3 Div positions at Leuven, followed 2 Div south of Brussels and then up to where the 3 Div Cav took such a hammering at Asse, down to the Schelde where 4 Div had such a scrap and then to the sea where all the lucky ones ended up....We'd planned so much for last year's 80th anniversary. My brasses were shining like never before...and then it was delayed to this year and that didn't happen either so at the point where restrictions here began to lift enough for us to find accommodation and be able to eat on the way, we said "Let's do it"...before the fourth wave caused by all the idiot football supporters criss-crossing Europe and hugging each other means that things are locked down again.
     
  9. MongoUK

    MongoUK Junior Member

    Lovely stuff Rich,

    Can I ask where the Hopkinson photos are from? Grandad was with them, looking to do my own Hopkinson route from Valenciennes to De Panne at some point.

    However, I'll probably give the 13 hours in the sea bit a miss...

    Have only ever seen a handful of Hoppy pictures, so great to see one I haven't before.
     
  10. Incredibledisc

    Incredibledisc Well-Known Member

    Fantastic thread Rich. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I love a good “then and now” photo set.
     
  11. dryan67

    dryan67 Senior Member

    What a wonderful job! Kudos.
     
  12. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Well-Known Member

    I am afraid (and no doubt in conjunction with many others) I had no idea who Hopkinson was or what and where his HQ was.
    So to keep things simple for those who join in with this thread Ihave added this link: https://www.royal-signals.org.uk/of_interest/phantom.php

    I am sure that there is much more to learn and share with others.
     
  13. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Yes great thread , thanks :salut:
    Craig
     

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