In early 1917 the ruins of this building known as the Steam Mill were occupied by the Germans, with the British lines on the opposite side of the canal. The German trenches were some 50 yards from the canal bank. The banks of the Yser Canal here were then linked by a broken railway bridge (now the road bridge over the canal) across which from time to time, both sides sent raiding parties. Edmund Blunden who was in the line here in January 1917 with the 11th Sussex, reported that units of the Belgium Army were holding the banks of the canal on their left and were frequently under mortar fire from the enemy posts occupying the Steam Mill and the trenches nearby.

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