I'm Stijn Butaye (°1988). I live at a hamlet called St. Juliaan (Julien) situated in the town of Langemark-Poelkapelle, in the heart of Flanders Fields (West Flanders, Belgium). For six years (secondary school), I undertook electrical courses at the technical school in Ypres and additional a year of specialization at the technical school at Poperinge. From my childhood onwards I already was fascinated by light.I finished this education in June 2007. My hobbies are: collecting world war 1 relics, cooperating with the website 'Westhoek Verbeeldt', also other websites, and space travel(see website: Gravitation Sound).
From my childhood onwards I grew up on a farm that was situated in the Ypres front area of World War 1, an area that had to endure a lot of battles. Our farm at that time was known as Pondfarm. As a result of this my first hobby came into being: collecting 'war relics'. From 2003 onwards I started my own collection made up by the war finds coming from our farmlands. Each and every item we found during the agricultural work, I put aside, dated them, photographed and inventarised them.
The photo above shows me standing at the entrance shaft of the Vampire Dugout at Zonnebeke. This was an 11m. (12 yards) deep subterranean tunnel which was used as a headquarter in World War 1 by the British. One who purchased the book ‘Beneath Flanders Fields, as I did, was permitted acces to the tunnel. I very well remember the candles at the joists, the shuffles on the wall and particularly the steady and quickly seeping water. More about the Vampire Dugout can be found here: www.polygonwood.com
At school I once had to make a little study about the Great War. It was not at all difficult for me to make a specific choice on this subject: Pondfarm of course. Out of this school paper my first website grew. On that website all my war finds can be seen and it holds general information about the farm too.
In 2006 I had some important visitors at my doorstep: the people from the (internet)Forum on World War1(Forumeerstewereldoorlog). The farm yard was filled with about 20 cars from people from The Netherlands who came to have a look at our war finds and the bunker. In 2005 I started a topic on Pondfarm on this forum and I put all the photos of my finds on there. The visit was the result of this.
In August, photographer Marco Magielse from Breda (NL) popped in at the museum on our farm. His idea was to create with this book some overview of the scares of the Great War. Marco's book is called "Relic (searching for the Great War)". Together with Marco I so visited a number of beautiful sites, as well Bart & Heidi Verfaille of the B&B 'de Krulleute'. The book was published in 2012 and is available with Marco and myself. More information on: Klik Hier.
A good friend of mine from St. Jan (St. Jean), Yvan Synnaeve, also known as Shrapnell Charlie created figurines of soldiers out of lead shrapnell bullets. Hij melted the lead, poured it in moulds, pasted things together and painted the figurines bringing them alive that way.
In June 2012 we found, by accident, in the course of two weeks, two pieces of a World War 1 tank in the fields of the farm. It concerns a piece of a caterpillar and a piece of plate from the back of a tank. I asked Johan Vanbeselaere of the ‘Ypres Salient Tanks’ some advice in this for I wanted to be sure if it indeed concerned pieces of such tank.
Our museum is located in an little old house on the farm. It is one of the houses that was built just after the war. At first the farmer lived in there till about 1927, the year he moved to the newly built farm. The small houses then were used by the workmen.
Through the time my interest has expanded and, besides Pondfarm, it reaches out to the complete history of St. Julien and Poelcapelle during the Great War period.
You can contact me at this address:
(English translation Frank Mahieu; if errors are found, please let us know, thanks)