Gazetteer of the Western Front: Peselhoek

Peselhoek was, and remains to this day, a hamlet north of Poperinge. It is several miles west of the front line of the Ypres salient. During the Great War it was developed into a major railway location that was key to the supply of goods and ammunition to the British Second Army holding Ypres.

Peselhoek

Peselhoek can be seen on this map. Other major railway locations were built nearby at Hopoutre and Oakhanger, both of which do not appear as they were invented names for locations that did not exist before the war.

Hopoutre

This map of July 1918 shows the railway lines at Peselhoek. There were sidings, branch lines, workshop buildings and camps. A main locomotive depot was based here too. Peselhoek was developed gradually but when 5th Australian Broad Gauge Operating Company arrived here on 12 June 1917 they still only reported it as a tented camp, a yard of five tracks, a rough platform and little else. Major development took place during the Third Battle of Ypres (July to November 1917). Two major lines came into this area from the Channel Ports: one via Hazebrouck, Godewaersvelde and Abeele and the other via Bergues and Rexpoede; branches came off both to the Peselhoek junction, from which a line ran forward to Brielen.

Hopoutre

We have marked two of the principal lines and overlaid them onto a modern map. There is no trace of the Great War railways or any of the Peselhoek facilities today. When the German attack brought it closer to Poperinge, Peselhoek began to come under fire from 13 April 1918. All locomotives and trains were hauled out, the tracks in the forward areas were mined and essentially the entire place prepared for destruction to deny it to the Germans. In the event the enemy attack was halted before reaching here but Peselhoek was evacuated on 16 April and although it later returned to use its primary role was never regained.

Hopoutre

A satellite image reveals no trace of the former war time railway activity.

See more places in the Gazetteer of the Western Front