Polderhoek Château (The Second Battle of Passchendaele)

Postcard of Polderhoek Chateau, pre-WW1, from the Lemuel Lyes Collection

Before the First World War, the beautiful Polderhoek Château was nestled inside a country estate, north of the Menin Road. After the first Battle of Ypres in 1914 the château became a German HQ building and dressing station.
During the Second Battle of Passchendaele, the 1st Battalion DCLI was part of 13 Infantry Brigade which carried out an attack on Polderhoek Chateau.

On the 6th November 1917, 1 DCLI crossed the start line on the edge of the Château parkland at 5:45 am, making good progress and capturing large numbers of German soldiers (including a battalion CO) and many machine guns.  Although the attack was initially successful, there was a high cost of life and the Château could not be held due to a combination of stiff resistance from an enemy firmly ensconced in concrete pill-boxes, heavy German DF artillery fire, and the fact that the pervasive mud continuously rendered the attackers’ weapons inoperative.

As the day wore on casualties rose alarmingly and at 3:30 pm the order was given to retire. The fighting strength of the Battalion when it crossed the start line had been 16 officers and 300 solders; after ten hours of fighting this had been reduced to just 5 officers and 177 soldiers.

By the end of the War there was little of the original chateau left, and the once peaceful parkland had become a barren landscape, pockmarked with shell holes and littered with pillboxes and barbed wire. The trees had been blasted and stripped of their branches, and the estate’s two streams had been shelled so hard their banks had broken, causing the ground to become marshy and deep in mud. After the war the owners of the château never returned.

The images below show the Chateau’s gradual destruction.  The château was sadly never rebuilt, and today the site bears little visible proof that such a building ever existed.

Postcard of Polderhoek Chateau, pre-WW1, from the Lemuel Lyes Collection
Postcard of Polderhoek Chateau, pre-WW1, (Lemuel Lyes Collection)
Polderhoek Chateau in 1915, from Great War Photos
Polderhoek Chateau in 1915 (Great War Photos)
Ruins of Polderhoek Chateau 1917 - C. IWM (Q 42251)
Ruins of Polderhoek Chateau 1917 – C. IWM (Q 42251) Imperial War Museums 
1 DCLI Second Battle of Passchendaele - Polderhoek Chateau 1917 Cornwalls Regimental Museum
Second Battle of Passchendaele – Polderhoek Chateau 1917 Archives at Cornwalls Regimental Museum

Special thanks to Great War Photosthe Lemuel Lyes Collection and Imperial War Museums for kind permission to use the above images.

Recommended reading:

History Geek Blog – Polderhoek Chateau “This is where I was wounded”

 

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