Wallonia’s most westerly settlement, the village of Ploegsteert (part of Comines Warneton), seemed perpetually on the front line as territory was won, lost and won again along the border between Belgium and France. Ploegsteert was a tongue-twister for the Tommies: ‘Plugstreet’ it became.
The major engagement hereabouts was the battle of Messines Ridge in June 1917. Anzac tunnellers dug miles of ‘catacombs’, enabling thousands of tonnes of high explosive to be detonated beneath the enemy’s positions. At the Plugstreet 14-18 Experience, the story of the battle is imaginatively told with film, photographs, touch screens and relief maps. The glass pyramid evokes Hill 63, an Allied observation point nearby. More of an interpretation centre than a museum, it chronicles the experiences and recollections of soldiers and civilians alike.
The journey through time
This amazing museum boasts a 400 metres square scenic space, using cutting-edge technology, touch screens, animations... to present the British and German positions in Comines-Warneton as well as the civilians and soldiers’ lives in a region torn by the war and 4 years of occupation. An interactive, human approach that proves rather moving to visitors.
Archival documents, unseen before, are on show and explained in 4 languages: Dutch, French, English and German. The Australian government helped put together 3 themes linked to this country's soldiers: the battle of Messine, the catacombs and the 1917-18 winter.
The interpretative centre regularly hosts local and travelling exhibitions.
After visiting the museum, visitors can take a walk in the area, and see the remaining traces of the war in the landscape or travel to the nearby memorials in Ploegsteert (such as British Memorial), Warneton and Comines.
- Open Mondays to Fridays, from 10 am to 5 pm.
- On the first Friday of the month, open from 10 am to 7 pm (last post)
- At weekends, open from 10 am to 6 pm
- Oct. 01st to March 31st and April 01st to Sept. 30th: open from 10 am to 5 pm
- Last entry: an hour before closing time.