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British: Ypres Ramparts

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

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On the Ypres Town Ramparts there are two Moir Pill Boxes, designed by Sir Edward Moir a prominent engineer attached to the Ministry of Munitions.

These were designed to be easy and quick to assemble in the battlefield without the need for mixing concrete and reinforced steel. They consisted of interlocking concrete blocks with a revolving protective steel plate, and a machine gun mounting suspended from a steel cupola. A concrete roof was added to provide protection from shell fire. The dimensions and the fittings were designed for a Vickers machine gun, although it was found that a Lewis gun or a Hotchkiss machine gun could be used as long as the operator was firing from the shoulder and leaning on the mounting. Gas fumes from the propellant were not an issue as the gun muzzle was outside of the protective ring.

The 208th and 57th Field Companies, R.E. built this pillbox in August 1918 to defend against attack from the south with the work carried out at night as the ramparts were within sight of the Germans who held the ground between Ypres and Dickebusch (today Dikkebuss).

Linesman map showing the Ypres ramparts

Dating from 1817 and immediately behind the pill box is the powder magazine for the town infantry barracks. It was used by the British during the four years of the war in the Salient and was refurbished in 1998. The pill box was originally thought to have been an observation post and information signs indicating this had been erected however, this was amended following research.

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