On Saturday 30 June 2012, a piece of caterpillar from a tank from the First World War was found at Pondfarm, in St-Juliaan, during work on a field near our farm. And this pretty exceptional find quickly gained a prominent place in the collection of Stijn Butaye. The same day we asked Johan Vanbeselaere of the 'Ypres Salient Tanks' from Poelkapelle for advice and wanted to be sure whether this was really a piece of a tank from the 'Great War', and if so, if there is more information about this particular specimen. Given that the location of the find is documented, we thought it was a serious opportunity.
The same evening we found an eligible tank on aerial photographs and trench maps. The next day we had a lot of certainty via GPS coordinates that it is probably a piece of a tank that hit the Steenbeek on 31 July 1917 at the first major attack during the 3 ° Battle of Ypres, namely the G5 Glenlivet. This was a so-called female tank of the British G-tank battalion patrolling the Hanebeek but got stuck near Border House and was left behind after receiving a direct hit. As a result, this tank can also be seen in subsequent aerial photographs. In such matters, however, there is never 100% certainty immediately. That the remains of the tracks of such a British tank is obvious. Further research must give even more conclusive but everything points in the direction of this unfortunate land ship, as the first tanks were called. On the picture above you can see Stijn & Johan from the Ypres Salient Tanks. Two weeks later after the many big showers, we found a second remnant of the tank and had seen it by accident and recognized the same rivets as on the caterpillar. The piece, a lid, had been rinsed by the heavy rain in a well on the land. This find is a side plate from the back of the tank, where the caterpillar ran over. This plate will probably have been from the same tank, the G5 Glenlivet. Johan Vanbeselaere of the 'Ypres Salient Tanks' came to take a look again with Dirk Vinck who drew the chassis of the replica tank that they are reconstructing at Poelkapelle. They were able to establish on the basis of a technical plan that it is an original part of a tank. On the above photo you see v.l.n.r. Brecht Simoens, Stijn, Dirk and Johan at the tank discoveries.
Out of curiosity we fitted the original pieces of the Glenlivet on the dummy tank that was still at George Buyse in Poelkapelle. Our expectations were not disappointed, everything fit perfectly! The pieces that we found are displayed in the way you see in the photo, at the Pond Farm. V.l.n.r. Johan Vanbeselaere, George Buyze, Dirk Vinck, Stijn P.
In 2018 rare pieces have been found and these are 2 unditching beams that lay on top of the tanks. They fastened these beams to the track plates when the tanks were stuck in the mud and then they could drag that beam over that tank to pull out their own. These 2 bars below have a 100j on the field at the Pondfarm without anyone had an idea of this could be from tank! You can see the photos of all the finds HERE.