The American tour

2 jours
Flanders Fields
HIPPOWAR Waregem 3 © HIPPO.WAR Waregem
This tour gives you the opportunity to make the most of your 48 hour visit to Flanders Fields and focuses on sights of historical importance for the American visitor. Start your journey in Waregem with a visit to the Flanders Field American cemetery, its visitor centre and the Hippowar museum. Start your second day in Ypres with a visit to the In Flanders Fields Museum, located in the imposing Cloth Hall, and to the world known WWI monument the Menin Gate. Spend your afternoon in Kemmel with a visit to the American monument and visitor centre in Kemmel.


Flanders Field American Cemetery

Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial Waregem 03

Wortegemseweg 117, Waregem

We start our tour on the only American war cemetery in Belgium and walk in the footsteps of President Obama, who visited the cemetery during the centenary. The peaceful Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial has 368 tombstones in white marble from Carrara and is located in a beautifully maintained park spread over four acres. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew over this cemetery in his Spirit of St. Louis to salute his fallen compatriots and to scatter poppies over their graves.

American cemetery visitor centre

Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial Waregem 11

Wortegemseweg 117, Waregem

The visitor centre is situated next to the entrance of the American cemetery. It concentrates on four main themes: the origins and the mission of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the fighting in which the four American divisions in Belgium took part, the sacrifice made by the American soldiers in Belgium (an exhibition tells the stories of some dozens of the American soldiers who are buried in the cemetery), and the commemoration of those American soldiers. The ways in which they have been commemorated over the years will be highlighted: the pilgrimages of the Gold Star Mothers and Widows, the annual Memorial Day ceremony, etc.


HIPPOWAR Waregem 3 © HIPPO.WAR Waregem

Felix Verhaeghestraat 5, Waregem

Museum HIPPO.WAR presents two permanent exhibitions, one on the role of the Americans in World War One and another on the role of the horse during the conflict. These themes have great local Waregem significance, given the presence of the only American First World War cemetery in Belgium and the fact that Waregem is widely known as a horse town and in particular for the famous horse races known as the Waregem Koerse. 


Heuvelland Visitor Centre

Bezoekerscentrum Het Heuvelland 16 © gemeente Heuvelland

Sint-Laurentiusplein 1, Heuvelland

A good place to start the second day is the Visitor Centre in Heuvelland. It houses a number of permanent WWI exhibitions with a particular focus on the centenary of ‘the Battle of Messines’ or ‘the Battle of the Mines’ as it is also known, looking at the impacts on the landscape and the archaeology of the area. They also pay attention to the involvement of the Twenty-seventh and Thirtieth Divisions in heavy fighting in Kemmel. 

American monument Kemmel

American monument Kemmel © Jan D'Hondt - Westtoer c

Kemmelstraat 2, Kemmel

A heavy rectangular block on a wide rectangular platform honours the Twenty-seventh and Thirtieth American divisions. The monument was built in 1929 by the American Battle Monuments Commission, to a design by George Howe of Philadelphia. 

In Flanders Fields Museum

In Flanders Fields museum 05 © In Flanders Fields museum

Grote Markt 34, Ieper

The hub of the WWI commemoration in Flanders Fields is the In Flanders Fields Museum. The museum - located in the impressive Cloth Halls in Ypres highlights the story of the invasion, the trench war and the remembrance since the armistice, while focusing on personal stories. We take a deep breath and climb the bell-tower to have a look at what were once the battlefields.

Menin Gate

Menin Gate - Ypres © Pieter De Kersgieter

Menenstraat, Ieper

We head back to Ypres for a visit of the Menin Gate - by far the most famous Commonwealth war memorial in Flanders Fields. On its white walls are engraved the names of 54,896 soldiers, whose bodies were never found (another 34,000 are commemorated at Tyne Cot Memorial in Passchendaele, because the Menin Gate was not big enough to hold all the names). Since 1928, at 8pm each and every day the Last Post is blown here. We arrive at the Gate and we already see the buglers coming. Any moment now... 

The Last Post

30,000th Last Post Ceremony 08 © Margaux Capoen Stad Ieper

Menenstraat, Ieper

The four buglers - in the uniform of the voluntary fire-fighters of Ypres - stand in line. The first notes sound like a call. Its symbolic value sends shivers through anyone listening. If we can’t call the soldiers back to life, let’s send them “a final farewell at the end of their earthly labours and at the onset of their eternal rest”, as it reads on There are many video clips of the ceremony on YouTube but as one comment on the videos says: “You must have seen this once in your life. If you are not moved by it, you’re made of concrete.” We can’t but agree…