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Polygon Wood

Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, Passchendaele

5th Division Memorial, Buttes New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium

5th Division memorial, Buttes new British cemetert, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Service: Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood, Passchendaele
Date: Tuesday, 26 September 2017
Time: 5.30 am – 6.30 am (Dawn Service)
Seating style: Ground level seating available
Venue: 5th Division Memorial, Buttes New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Weather: Average temperature is between 10 ºC and 19 ºC with September being a wet month
Attendance passes: Required – Available February 2017
Visa requirements: Australian Passport – No, check your visa requirements
Security: Airport-style screening


5th Division Memorial, Buttes New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium

The national commemorative service in Belgium will be conducted at the Buttes New British Cemetery which is located
2 km south of the Belgian village of Zonnebeke and 9 km east of the city of Ieper.

Buttes New British Cemetery is situated within Polygon Wood and prominently features the ‘Butte de Polygone’, one of the primary objectives of the battle fought by the Australians on 26 September 1917. Placed on top of the ‘Butte’ is the
5th Australian Division’s Memorial, the only divisional memorial in Belgium. Also contained within the cemetery is a memorial dedicated to the memory of the 378 New Zealanders who died during actions within Polygon Wood but who have no known grave. Of the 2,108 soldiers buried in the cemetery, which includes 560 Australians, over 1,600 are unidentified. The cemetery was built after the war and contains the remains of soldiers consolidated from irregular, front line cemeteries in the area.

Adjacent to Buttes New British Cemetery is the Polygon Wood Cemetery which is an irregular, front line cemetery which contains the remains of 107 soldiers, predominately from New Zealand and the United Kingdom, who were buried there at the time of battles. 

Further information on the cemeteries can be accessed at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website on the Buttes New British Cemetery page and the Polygon Wood Cemetery page

Detailed Services Program

12.30 am – Park and Ride facility opens
1.15 am – Commemorative site opens and the first shuttle departs from the Park and Ride facility
3.15 am - Last shuttle allowing access to the Reflective Trail departs Park and Ride
3.30 am – Entry to the Reflective Trail closes
4.45 am – Last shuttle departs from Park and Ride facility
5.30 am – Commemorative service commences
6.30 am – Commemorative service concludes
7.30 am – Shuttles commence departures to the Park and Ride facility
9.30 am – Last shuttle departures to the Park and Ride facility

Transport Arrangements

Road Closures

It is likely that all roads immediately surrounding Polygon Wood will be closed to non-residents access from the evening of 25 September until the afternoon of 26 September 2017. There will also be traffic control measures in place around Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke and between the Park and Ride facility and the commemorative site for the duration of the morning of 26 September 2017.

Transport to the Commemorative Site

A free park and ride system will operate from the ‘C’ car park at the Bellewaerde theme park, which is about a 10 to 15 minute drive to the east of Ieper. The Park and Ride facility will be open from 12:30am, with the first shuttles departing at 1:15am.Visitors are able to access the Park & Ride site via private vehicle, taxi, tour operator coach, or via a bus service running between Ieper and Bellewaerde Park departing from the leper town square in front of Sint-Maartenskathedraal (Cathédrale Saint-Martin) at 2:30am on the 26th of September, and returning at 9:00am from Bellewaerde Park.

The following link will take you to a map showing the location of the leper departure point.

All attendees for the service,  including those travelling by private vehicle or tour operator coach, must travel to the Park and Ride facility, park their vehicles there and be shuttled to the commemorative site by DVA coordinated coaches. 

The following link will take you to a map showing the location of the 'C' car park.

From the car park you will be shuttled to the commemorative site where you will have the choice of disembarking at the start of a 1 km Reflective Trail or directly at the entrance to the cemetery. If visitors choose to alight at the start of the Reflective Trail, they must arrive at the Park & Ride prior to 3:15am.

On the completion of the commemorative service shuttles will depart from the cemetery entrance and end of the Reflective Trail to return you to the Park and Ride facility.

Accessible Transport and Facilities

Accessible vehicles will be available to transport those who require it from the Park and Ride facility to the commemorative site and return. Accessible parking and toilets will be available at the Park and Ride facility.

Accessible seating and toilets will be available at the commemorative site.

Accessible entrance to the commemorative site will be through the main entrance. Anyone who is not capable of walking 1 km along a dirt and gravel trail should consider not attempting the Reflective Trail but rather arrive at the commemorative site’s main entrance.

While wheelchairs will be able to pass along the main part of the Reflective Trail to the commemorative site some sections of the trail will be very difficult to traverse and a number of the reflective elements will be inaccessible to wheelchairs. Accessibility of wheelchairs along the Reflective Trail will be impacted by prevailing weather conditions prior to and on the morning of the commemorative service, on arrival at the Park and Ride facility advice should be sought from DVA Commemorations staff on the condition and accessibility of the trail.

Service Specific Visitor items

Information Tent

An Information Tent will operate from 23 September until 26 September. Staff will be on hand to provide information about the service. The tent will operate before and during the Dawn Service on 26 September.

Laying a Wreath

Wreath laying by invited official representatives will occur during the services. Members of the public who wish to lay a wreath or floral tribute will have the opportunity to do so at the conclusion of the service. If you wish to lay a wreath or floral tribute, you will need to bring this with you and register your details at the information tent.

The proceedings will be announced by the Master of Ceremonies who will call individuals in order to lay their wreath or tribute. Extreme care is recommended to all visitors as there may be trip hazards or other obstacles (chairs, podium, wreath stands) in this area. Please do not climb on podiums or other infrastructure to take photographs.

Please note that you will need to organise your own wreath or floral tribute. It is your responsibility to carry it with you, care for it and transport it to the Memorial. There are no facilities or arrangements for storage or transport of personal wreaths at the Memorial.

Further reading

Information on the Battle of Polygon Wood can be accessed at:

Contact Information

In Australia

Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Telephone: 1300 364 002
Facebook: DVA Aus / Anzac Centenary
Twitter: @DVAAus

For Consular Assistance in Belgium

Telephone: +32 02 286 0500
Have you registered on Smart traveller? Visit Smart traveller for the latest travel advice.

Emergency helpline 

Consular Emergency Centre 24 Hour Phone Service:
Telephone: 1300 555 135 within Australia (local call cost) or
Telephone: +61 2 6261 3305 from outside Australia

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