WWI museums and sites
The Lys Valley has a few fascinating museums and sites related to World War I. You'll find a handy summary below.
National Tobacco Museum
During the Great War commemorative period, a large portion of the National Tobacco Museum will highlight tobacco and smoking during WWI. The updated museum layout draws attention to the underestimated role of tobacco during WWI. A large part of the museum tells the story of soldiers and tobacco. This part of the museum is illustrated with lots of unique materials.
The museum also focuses on Belgium's rich tobacco culture and displays the impressive collection of the non-profit organisation Friends of the Tobacco Museum.
Address: Koestraat 63, 8940 Wervik
Old Leghem is a private museum related to aviation during the First World War. About 25 airworthy scale models from 1908 to 1918 (scale 1/3 or 1/4), short films and historic materials allow you to relive that exciting yet deadly period of aviation history. The two opposing alliances used more aeroplanes than you would think. In the region around Ledegem there were several temporary airfields, often not more than a square with a grassy air strip and tents that served as hangars. You can conclude your museum visit with a beverage in the brasserie next door.
Address: Menenstraat 17, 8880 Ledegem
Pillbox in Ledegem
The Ledegem Pillbox is a war relic from 1916. You can visit the bunker where German soldiers used to stay. The command bunker had two rooms for sleeping, a supply room and an arsenal. There was room to house about 20 soldiers. The bunker was used during air attacks or when British troops advanced.
Address: Industrieweg, 8880 Ledegem
The eye-catcher of this memorial is the large bronze statue of a caribou standing atop a cairn of Newfoundland granite. Caribou are a type of reindeer that live in Canada, Alaska and the northern United States. The animal was the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Newfoundland was a British colony during the Great War; it has been part of Canada since 1949. During WWI Newfoundlanders fought in Turkey, France and Belgium. During the final offensive they helped liberate the Lys Valley. On the night of 18 to 19 October 1918 three British divisions tried to cross the Lys River north of Kortrijk. The Scots and the Newfoundlanders were the first to reach the other side.
Address: Gentsesteenweg, 8500 Kortrijk
William Leggett Monument
The Leggett Monument is located in the shadow of the St.-Dyonisius church in Geluwe. It is a dual work of art. The monument commemorates the death of the Australian Corporal of Horse William Leggett (1st Life Guards), who died in Geluwe on 14 October 1914. The monument was erected in 2001. The second part of the monument was unveiled in Goulburn (Australia), the corporal's birthplace, on 11 November 2005.
Address: Sint-Denijsplaats, 8940 Geluwe (Wervik)
Battle of Ede Mill Monument
In Belgium, World War I started with the German invasion on 4 Augustus 1914. German scouts encountered tenacious resistance in Nazareth on 7 October 1914 from a group of gendarme led by Captain Camiel Fremault, a group from the Liège militia and two French companies. During the skirmish, the Germans had to sound the retreat and their advance was stopped (briefly). There were 11 Belgian casualties, including Captain Fremault. The Germans lost 68 men and about 100 were wounded. The Battle of Ede Mill is commemorated every year at the monument near Café Edemolen on October 7.
Address: Steenweg Deinze / Gaversesteenweg, Nazareth