Martin Clift

 Founder & Director of Bellewaarde 1915

For many years I had been interested in history, most of which was reasonably recent, such as the Second World War, but I had never really thought about my families history, of course, I knew that  my paternal grandfather died in 1940, 15 years before I was born, and my maternal grandfather when I was two years old, but, I never thought of asking questions and trying to fit things together, I just assumed we were a small family.

In 1997 the company I was employed by, introduced lap top computers for 'field' staff and at first I was very intrigued by these machines and what they could do. I was told that this particular machine sported a 1.3 GB hard drive (less storage than two CD Roms), a massive space to store everything I wanted to store, but at this stage I didn't know what to store, let alone how to do it. So I called in at the IT Department and was handed my lap top, "I've set it up for you" said Bob, "Thanks!" I said "How do I use it?" "Ah! That's down to you" Bob replied. To say I was scared would be a gross understatement, but, I never let on that it would be a problem. (This was probably the start of hair loss)

I started to get the hang of things in terms of letters and spreadsheets, but, I needed to be able to play around with the thing a lot more. A few months later I was walking around a large electrical store seeing what new products were available for computers and I started looking at softwear, there it was the thing that would help me play around with the computer, a family history programme.

Researching my family history was real fun, especially as my wife joined in as well, it gave us the opportunity to visit the Family History Centre in Islington and also the National Archives in Kew and we certainly uncovered many ancestors. One story from my mother and other members of the family intrigued me. My great uncle Austin Frank Broughton I was told died in Ypres on 16th June 1915, it would appear that he and his pals were ordered to march in front of a tank, just in case of mines, sadly he stepped on one and was killed instantly. (I now know this to be false as tanks were not in service at that time) I was also told he was under age when he joined up, again un-true. I uncovered the facts with the help of many people who share their information on forums, such as the Great War Forum, a fantastic resource for people looking for help regarding WW1.

When I found most of the information I set out to create this website not realising the work involved and on and off I needed and received encouragement, which I must say, kept me going.

One of the aims of the website is to support the Bellewaarde 1915 Memorial Fund. This fund sets out to provide a battlefield memorial to the fallen of Bellewaarde. The memorial will be unveiled on the centenary of the battle, 16th June 2015 and it will be placed at the Hooge Crater Museum, which stands on the southern edge of the battlefield, next to the Menin Road.

My wish is that you, the reader of this site, enjoy and learn from the information, but, most of all I would like you to remember the brave men of Bellewaarde, British or German who fought, fell or survived, lest we forget.