At the 'Ganzepoot' (‘Goose Foot’) in Nieuwpoort (Flanders, Belgium) 6 waterways meet: aerial photos simply explain the name of this lock system. At the beginning of the 20th century, the 'water management' was regulated from here in the large sub sea level area behind the Belgian Coast.
An ingenious system of canals, dams, locks and spillways kept the water levels in the low-lying plains under control. When the German army threatens to break through at the end of October 1914, the plan is conceived to flood the entire Yzer plain. ‘Specialists’ Karel Cogge and Hendrik Geeraert - who knew which locks to operate at what time - were deployed to implement this plan.
The advance was indeed halted by the expanse of water that suddenly formed around and in front of the German troops. The flooding put the frontline in its definitive shape for the rest of the First World War.
Nearby is the Yser Monument, with the statue of King Albert I on horseback: the Belgian king who gained a lot of prestige by leading his troops from - relatively - close range during the First World War. The impressive circular monument is 25 meters high and has a diameter of 30 meters.
Under the monument, you will find the 'Westfront Visitor Centre', always worth a visit. Via the museum you have access to the highest part of the monument, with a great panoramic view.
A little further up, you will find the most unknown "Missing Memorial" on the Western front.
Although it has the same meaning as the Ypres Menin Gate, or the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, it is hardly visited. The memorial mentions the names of 566 British soldiers who went missing in the defense of Antwerp at the end of 1914, or who later went missing in fighting in the area.
On the bronze panels around the monument, you can read Laurence Binyon's world-famous poem, "For the Fallen".
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them."