Local battlefield guides Iain McHenry and Chris Lock reported a few weeks ago about the discovery of some post-war battlefield pilgrimage signage found close to Ypres; seen in the image above. The signage was on a house located on the Poperinghe-Ypres road, used to bring post-war battlefield pilgrims into the city of Ypres where most battlefield visits began at that time, just as they do today. The signage was painted on the end of a row of 1920s houses and had been exposed until after the Second World War when it was covered up by laying tiles across the end wall on wooden batons The houses were recently purchased and are being renovated and when the tiles were removed, the signage was uncovered.
Very little is known about the British Legion in Ypres at this time. The Ypres Times, the journal of the Ypres League, in October 1931 reported that the branch had just held a flower show in Ypres and that the branch chairman was a ‘Captain Perrott’ who may be Captain Frederick Vernon Phair Perrott of the Durham Light Infantry who won the Military Cross. The branch had been active in the large British Legion pilgrimage of 1928 when it had been a depot for poppy wreathes and by 1930 it was helping organise regular British Legion pilgrimages, such the one below to the Menin Gate.
The signage now uncovered gives directions to the British Legion’s office in the corner of the main square at Ypres and indicates that it offered information for battlefield visitors and the ability to buy remembrance wreaths. It also had facilities for food and drink. The building where this office was located still stands and has a ‘shop front’ appearance at street level.
While any attempt to move this wall will no doubt result in its destruction, there are moves locally to actively preserve it and the property owner is both interested and sympathetic. As we move towards the Centenary of the Great War no doubt other such sites will be uncovered and with the high profile the Great War gets in the media these days, let us hope this will help in their recording and preservation; a few years ago such things would all too easily disappear, such as the International Corner sign (below) which as demolished in the 1990s.