The Trench of Death - History and Facts | History Hit

The Trench of Death

Diksmuide, Flanders, Belgium

The Trench of Death is a network of First World War trenches in Belgium.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Trench of Death

The Trench of Death (De Dodengang) in Diksmuide, Belgium dates to the First World War and, as its name suggests, was amongst the most treacherous of trench systems and had areas of no man’s land as small as 50 metres wide. Well preserved and signposted, the Trench of Death site offers an insight into life on the front lines in the Great War.

The Trench of Death history

The Trench of Death is the only preserved Belgian trench system from the First World War.

In 1915 the Belgian army tries to dislodge the Germans from the petrol tanks north of the city of Dixmude. After two failed attempts the Belgians decide to dig a trench towards the drums. The Germans however manage to capture part of it. By the end of 1915, Belgian military engineers managed to create a breach in the Yser dike to suppress the German threat. The two camps were then only separated by a mere ditch. The trench then became an impenetrable area called the Trench of Death due to the victims buried there after the German attack.

The trench played a key role in preserving the front line in this area and stopping further German incursions across the Yser Canal. Belgian soldiers fought here under the most perilous conditions until the final offensive of 28 September 1918.

The Trench of Death today

Today visitors discover the history of the notorious Trench of Day with the aid of fifteen interactive applications, life-size pictures, films and more than a hundred original objects.

The refurbished interpretation centre Trench of Death was inaugurated on August 28, 2014, during the First World War centenary commemoration. It uses the most modern museum techniques. Through fifteen applications, texts, pictures, film footage and unique objects from the Royal Military Museum collections we guide the visitor through the Trench’s fascinating history. A new visitors’ tour was established based on new historic research. The visitor learns about the Trench of Death in an interactive way and some tough myths about the precious site are undone.

Getting to The Trench of Death

The site is located about 1.5 kilometres from the Ijzertoren in the centre of the city, and set directly on the banks of the Yser Canal.

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