Croisilles Wood, featured prominently in this video, is a destination in 1917 (2019 film) by Sir Samuel Alexander Mendes. The protagonist, Corporal Schofield, reaches Croisilles Wood as the suicidal raid to which he has been sent to cancel, is already underway. The 7th Division attacked Croisilles in March 1917 and took it on 2 April. It was lost on 21 March 1918 and recaptured by the 56th (London) Division on the following 28 August, after heavy fighting. Plots I and II of the cemetery, were made between April 1917 and March 1918 and the rest was formed after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and from some smaller burial grounds. The majority of the soldiers buried in the cemetery belonged to the Guards, 7th and 21st Divisions. Croisilles British Cemetery now contains 1,171 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the Great War. 647 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 14 casualties buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate casualties buried in HENDECOURT-LES-CAGNICOURT Communal Cemetery in 1917, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery also contains the graves of six Commonwealth airmen of the Second World War and 18 German war graves.
About this blog
I've visited over 300 Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemeteries, and dozens of Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (counterpart to the CWGC) cemeteries in the Western Front, and they all hold two things in common for me - they are uniquely beautiful, and they never cease to move me. It is both a profoundly disturbing and rewarding experience to be surrounded by so many souls whose lives were cut way too short, in all too often horrifying circumstances. If you never get the chance to visit these cemeteries in person, I hope your virtual-visit gives you an appreciation for the manner in which these men and women are cared for, in perpetuity by representatives of the CWGC and volunteers of the humanitarian organization Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V.. This blog also contains videos of various ceremonies in Europe and Canada, with a particular emphasis on the Great War Centenary (2014-2018). We Will Remember Them.
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he cemetery was first used by Commonwealth units at the end of April 1915 and continued in use until May 1916. Row C contains the collective grave of 23 men of the 2nd Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment who were killed in the German gas attack at Hill 60 on 5 May 1915. The cemetery was used again from July 1917, mostly by artillery units, for burials arising from the 1917 Flanders offensive. There are now 283 Great War burials within the cemetery. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
For much of the Great War, the village of Boesinghe (now Boezinge) directly faced the German line across the Yser canal. Bard Cottage was a house a little set back from the line, close to a bridge called Bard's Causeway, and the cemetery was made nearby in a sheltered position under a high bank. Burials were made between June 1915 and October 1918 and they reflect the presence of the 49th (West Riding), the 38th (Welsh) and other infantry divisions in the northern sectors of the Ypres Salient, as well as the advance of artillery to the area in the autumn of 1917. After the Armistice, 46 graves were brought in to Plot VI, Row C, from the immediate area, including 32 from MARENGO FARM CEMETERY (this was located a few hundred metres to the south of Bard Cottage, on the same side of the road. It was used from June 1915 to August 1916). There are now 1,639 Commonwealth casualties of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 39 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate three casualties known to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
The village of Le Quesnel, which had been for some time in British hands, was captured by the enemy on the 27th March, 1918, but was retaken on the following 9th August, by the 75th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Le Quesnel Communal Cemetery Extension was created by the Canadian Corps Burial Officers in August, 1918. Three graves were transferred here from Fresnoy-en-Chaussee Churchyard in 1934 to ensure perpetuity and proper maintenance. There are now over 60 Great War and a small number of Second World War casualties commemorated in this site. The Extension covers an area of 486 square metres and is enclosed by a low red brick wall on three sides and by the higher wall of the Communal Cemetery on the forth.
During the Great War, the area around the small fishing port of Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft, and accessible by railway from both the northern or the southern battlefields. At its peak, 100,000 troops were housed there with Commonwealth army training and reinforcement camps and an extensive complex of hospitals. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes and the hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. In September 1919, 10 months after the Armistice, three hospitals and the Q.M.A.A.C. convalescent depot remained. The cemetery is the final resting place of 20 women, including nurses, army auxiliaries and civilian volunteers of the YMCA and Scottish Church Huts organisations. They were killed in air raids or by disease. By the latter part of the war, more than 2,500 women were serving at the Étaples base. Hailing from many parts of the British Empire as well as France and America, they included ambulance drivers, nurses, members of the Voluntary Aid Detachment and those employed by the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps as bakers, clerks, telephonists and gardeners. In its early years, the cemetery was visible as the train from Boulogne to Paris passed close by. Sir Fabian Ware, the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission, ensured that trains would linger for a minute or so to allow passengers a glimpse. Hospitals were stationed again at Etaples during the Second World War. The cemetery was used for burials from January 1940 until the evacuation at the end of May 1940. After the war, a number of graves were brought into the cemetery from other French burial grounds. Of the 119 Second World War burials, 38 are unidentified.
Von den neun Friedhöfen, die ursprünglich in diesem Gebiet existierten, ist nur noch dieser erhalten. Viele Gefallene wurden 1957 vom Volksbund umgebettet. Hier ruhen 1.288 gefallene Deutsche und 288 gefallene Franzosen sowie 28 Österreicher, 29 Italiener und 17 Russen des Ersten Weltkrieges.
Sauchy-Lestrée was captured by the 56th (London) Division on 27 September 1918, and the cemetery was made and used by fighting units during the following five weeks. It contained 50 burials at the Armistice, and others were then added from the surrounding battlefields and from the following cemeteries:- EPINOY ROAD CEMETERY, EPINOY, was on the road from Sauchy-Lestrée to Epinoy, just West of the point where it crosses the road from Sauchy-Cauchy to Haynecourt. It was made by fighting units, and it contained the graves of 27 soldiers (mainly 2nd Yorkshire Regiment) and one airman from the United Kingdom and four soldiers from Canada, all of whom fell between the 26th September and the 14th October, 1918. LECLUSE CRUCIFIX CEMETERY was on the Southern outskirts of Lecluse village, and it contained the graves of 16 Canadian soldiers who fell in October, 1918. Chapel Corner Cemetery contains 178 Great War burials, 29 of which are unidentified. The cemetery was designed by G H Goldsmith.
In 1915 and 1916 the Allied front line ran between Foncquevillers and Gommecourt. The cemetery was begun by French troops, and taken over by Commonweatlh forces. It remained in use by units and field ambulances until March 1917, the burials in July 1916 (particularly in Plot I, Row L) being especially numerous. The cemetery was used again from March to August 1918, when the German offensive brought the front line back to nearly the old position. Seventy-four graves were brought in after the Armistice from the battlefields of 1916 and 1918 to the east of the village and the 325 French military graves were removed to La Targette French National Cemetery, near Arras. The village of Foncquevillers was "adopted" by the town of Derby. The cemetery contains 648 Commonwealth burials of the Great War. 53 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to two casualties known to be buried among them. There are five airmen of the Second World War buried in the cemetery, and four Germans. There is also 1 French Non World War burial. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
The British Expeditionary Force was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. Commonwealth forces did not return until September 1944, but in the intervening years, many airmen were shot down or crashed in raids on strategic objectives in Belgium, or while returning from missions over Germany. Schaffen Communal Cemetery contains the graves of 20 Commonwealth airmen of the Second World War, and 28 Belgian Nationals who served in the Great War, and/or the Second World War.
Flers was captured on 15 September 1916, in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, when it was entered by the New Zealand and 41st Divisions behind tanks, the innovative new weapons that were used here for the first time. The village was lost during the German advance of March 1918 and retaken at the end of the following August by the 10th West Yorks and the 6th Dorsets of the 17th Division. The cemetery was begun by Australian medical units, posted in the neighbouring caves, in November 1916-February 1917. These original graves are in Plot I, Rows A and B. It was very greatly enlarged after the Armistice when almost 4,000 Commonwealth and French graves were brought in from the battlefields of the Somme, and later from a wider area. There are now 3,475 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 2,263 of the burials are unidentified and there are special memorials to 23 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of three casualties buried in a cemetery at Flers, whose graves could not be found. The cemetery also contains 170 French and 3 German war graves. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
New Irish Farm Cemetery was first used from August to November 1917 and was named after a nearby farm, known to the troops as 'Irish Farm' (originally there was an Irish Farm Cemetery immediately South of the Farm. New Irish Farm Cemetery is about 300 metres North of the Farm at a crossing once known as Hammond's Corner). It was used again in April and May 1918 and at the Armistice it contained just 73 burials - the three irregular rows of Plot I - but was then greatly enlarged when more than 4,500 graves were brought in from the battlefields north-east of Ypres (now Ieper) and from smaller cemeteries. There are now 4,719 commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 3,271 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate four casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 30 casualties buried in four of the cemeteries removed to New Irish Farm whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
The cemetery, named from a dairy farm, was begun in November 1914 and used until October 1918 by units holding this sector of the front. The different plots were, to a great extent, treated as regimental burial grounds; the majority of the graves in Plots II, III and X, for instance, were those of the 26th, 25th and 24th Canadian Infantry Battalions, respectively, and all but one of the graves in Plot VIII are those of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers. On 25 April 1918, the cemetery fell into German hands, but it was retaken at the beginning of September. After the Armistice, graves were brought into the cemetery from the battlefields north and north-east of Kemmel. There are now 751 Commonwealth casualties of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 180 of the burials are unidentified and special memorials commemorate two servicemen whose graves were destroyed in later fighting. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Buffs Road was the name given to a small lane, which ran between Boundary Road and Admiral's Road, just to the north of the hamlet of Wieltje. The cemetery was made and used by fighting units (in particular by the 12th, 13th and 14th Royal Sussex and the Royal Artillery) between July 1917 and March 1918, and after the Armistice graves were brought into it (Row EE and part of Row from the battlefields and one British officer, who fell in 1915, was brought in from Brielen Churchyard. There are now 289 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 86 of the burials are unidentified and there are special memorials to ten casualties whose graves in the cemetery were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by A.J.S. Hutton.
Cheddar Villa was the name given by the Army to a farm on the west side of the road from Wieltje to St. Julien. On 25 and 26 April 1915, during the Battle of St. Julien, severe fighting took place in this area and the Commonwealth dead were buried on the spot. The cemetery thus created was called Cheddar Villa Cemetery, but at the request of the Officer Commanding the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders its name was changed in 1922; more than 100 of those buried in the cemetery belonged to that battalion. The cemetery contains 148 burials and commemorations of the Great War. 21 of the burials are unidentified and 19 destroyed by shell fire are represented by special memorials. Row A, Grave 8, and Row B, Grave 1, are collective graves, and the headstones connected with them are placed against the cemetery walls. The names of 23 officers and men of the 2nd Seaforths who fell here, but are not known to be buried in the cemetery, are recorded on a tablet. These casualties are officially commemorated by name on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Cuesmes Communal Cemetery contains 47 Commonwealth burials of the Great War, 38 of which are unidentified. The casualties date from August 1914 (some of the very first casualties of the Great War) and October-December 1918 (some of the last casualties), and in most cases they were brought into the cemetery after the Armistice.
Roclincourt was just within the British lines before the Battles of Arras, 1917; the 51st (Highland) and 34th Divisions advanced from the village on the 9th April, 1917, and the 1st Canadian Division attacked on their left, across the Lens road. Arras Road Cemetery was begun by the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade soon after the 9th April, 1917, and until the Armistice it contained only the graves (now at the back of the cemetery) of 71 officers and men of the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion (British Columbia Regiment) who fell in April, May and June, 1917; but in 1926-29, it was enlarged by the addition of 993 graves from a wide area, mainly North and East of Arras. There are now over 1,000 Great War casualties commemorated in this site. The cemetery covers an area of 4,084 square metres. It is enclosed on three sides by a stone rubble wall, and against the road by a retaining wall. Old dug-outs exist under the North-East corner and on the South-West boundary.
Wulverghem (now Wulvergem) was the scene of a German gas attack on the night of 29-30 April 1916 which was repulsed by the 3rd and 24th Division. The village was captured by the Germans on 14 April 1918 and reoccupied by the 30th Division on the following 2 September. Packhorse Farm was the name given to a farm on the east side of the most direct road from Lindenhoek to Wulverghem, and a little south of it was a wayside shrine, later rebuilt nearer to the farm. The cemetery was one of two made by the 46th (North Midland) Division who occupied this sector in the early summer of 1915. It was used only from April to June 1915. Packhorse Farm Shrine Cemetery contains 59 Great War burials. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.
During part of August 1914, Amiens was the British Advanced Base. It was captured by the Germans on 31 August, and retaken by the French on the following 13 September. The German offensive which began in March 1918 had Amiens for at least one of its objectives but the Battle of Amiens (8 - 11 August 1918) is the Allied name for the action by which the counter offensive, the Advance to Victory, was begun. The 7th General Hospital was at Amiens in August 1914; the 56th (South Midland) Casualty Clearing Station from April to July 1916; the New Zealand Stationary Hospital from July 1916 to May 1917; the 42nd Stationary Hospital from October 1917 to March 1919; and the 41st Stationary Hospital in March 1918, and again in December 1918 and January 1919. The Commonwealth plot in St. Pierre Cemetery was first used in September 1915 and closed in October 1919, but shortly afterwards 33 graves of 1918 were brought in from positions in or near the city. During the Second World War, Amiens was again a British base, and G.H.Q. reserve was accommodated in the area south-west of the town. There was heavy fighting in and around Amiens when the Germans broke through the Somme line and took the town on 18 May 1940. Much damage was done, but although all the houses to the west of the cathedral were completely destroyed by the bombardment, the cathedral itself and the church of St. Germain l'Ecossais survived. Amiens was retaken by the British Second Army on 31 August 1944. Nos. 25 and 121 General Hospitals were posted there in October 1944, remaining until April 1945. St. Pierre Cemetery contains 676 Commonwealth burials of the Great War and 82 from the Second World War. The Commonwealth plot was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The hamlet of L'Homme Mort saw fighting in March and August 1918. Plot I, Row A, of the cemetery was made in August 1918; the rest of this Plot and the whole of Plot II were formed after the Armistice when 152 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields. The cemetery now contains 166 burials of the Great War, 104 of them unidentified.
Buissy was reached by the Third Army on 2 September 1918, after the storming of the Drocourt-Queant line, and it was evacuated by the Germans on the following day. Queant Cemetery was made by the 2nd and 57th Casualty Clearing Stations in October and November 1918. It then consisted of 71 graves (now Plot I, Rows A and B), but was greatly enlarged after the Armistice when 2200 graves were brought in from the battlefields of 1917-1918 between Arras and Bapaume, and from smaller burial grounds in the area. There are now 2,377 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,441 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 56 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 26 casualties buried in German cemeteries in the neighbourhood, whose graves could not be found on concentration. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The Extension was made after the Armistice for the burial of remains brought in from the battlefields of the Aisne and from the following smaller cemeteries in the surrounding countryside. There are just over 1,000 Great War casualties commemorated in this site. The majority of them died in 1918; most of the rest died in September, 1914. Included the total figure are 6 soldiers of the United Kingdom whose identity had been established with reasonable, but not absolute certainty and who are commemorated by special memorial headstones bearing the superscription 'Believed to be', and 26 soldiers of the United Kingdom and 5 of Canada whose graves could be identified collectively but not individually and who are commemorated by special memorial headstones bearing the superscription 'Buried near this spot'. There are also 26 soldiers of the United Kingdom who are commemorated in the cemetery as follows: 22 who were buried at the time in MENNESSIS and PREMONTRE Communal cemeteries and in the former German cemeteries at Crecy-sur-Serre, Villequier-Aumont, Versigny, Couchy-le-Chateau, Fourdrain and Suzy and whose graves are lost are commemorated by special memorial headstones inscribed to that effect, with the additional inscription 'Their glory shall not be blotted out'; 3 are commemorated by special memorial headstones bearing the superscription 'Believed to be buried in this cemetery'; and one, whose grave is known to be in the cemetery although the exact place of burial could not be established, is commemorated by a special memorial headstone inscribed 'Buried in this cemetery'. The Cemetery Extension covers an area of 3,729 square metres.
The village of Beaumont-Hamel was attacked on 1 July 1916 by the 29th Division, with the 4th on its left and the 36th (Ulster) on its right, but without success. On 3 September a further attack was delivered between Hamel and Beaumont-Hamel and on 13 and 14 November, the 51st (Highland), 63rd (Royal Naval), 39th and 19th (Western) Divisions finally succeeded in capturing Beaumont-Hamel, Beaucourt-sur-Ancre and St. Pierre-Divion. Following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line in the spring of 1917, V Corps cleared this battlefield and created a number of cemeteries, of which Ancre British Cemetery (then called Ancre River No.1 British Cemetery, V Corps Cemetery No.26) was one. There were originally 517 burials almost all of the 63rd (Naval) and 36th Divisions, but after the Armistice the cemetery was greatly enlarged when many more graves from the same battlefields and from the following smaller burial grounds. There are now 2,540 Commonwealth casualties of the Great War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 1,335 of the graves are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate 43 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. There are also special memorials to 16 casualties know to have been buried in other cemeteries, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. The ROYAL NAVAL DIVISION MEMORIAL for the capture of Beaumont-Hamel is a stone obelisk erected beside the main road from Arras to Albert, at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre.
Lebucquiere village was occupied by Commonwealth forces on 19 March 1917, following the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. It was recaptured by the Germans on 23 March 1918, after fierce resistance by the 19th (Western) Division, and was finally reoccupied by the 5th Division on 3 September 1918. The communal cemetery extension was begun on 24 March 1917 and was used by the 1st Australian Division and other units for almost a year. After the reoccupation of the village in September 1918, it was used again for a fortnight. At the Armistice, the cemetery contained 150 burials, but it was then greatly enlarged when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields. The extension now contains 774 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the Great War. 266 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials 20 casualties known or believed to be buried among them and to one soldier buried in Bertincourt German Military Cemetery, whose remains could not be found on concentration. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.
At the end of March 1918, Hangard was at the junction of the French and Commonwealth forces defending Amiens. From 4 to 25 April, the village and Hangard Wood were the scene of incessant fighting, in which the line was held and the 18th Division were particularly heavily engaged. On 8 August, the village was cleared by the 1st and 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. The original extension to the communal cemetery was made by the Canadian Corps in August 1918. It consisted of 51 graves in the present Plot I. It was greatly increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in, mainly from the battlefields of Hangard and Hangard Wood and from smaller cemeteries. The extension now contains 563 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the Great War. 294 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to eight casualties known to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate nine casualties buried in Fontaine-les-Cappy Churchyard Extension and Gentelles French Military Cemetery, whose graves could not be found on concentration. Certain graves in Plots II, III, and IV, identified collectively but not individually, are marked by headstones inscribed with the words "Believed to be buried near this spot.".
The commune of Zillebeke contains many Commonwealth cemeteries as the front line trenches ran through it during the greater part of the Great War. Hedge Row Trench Cemetery was begun in March 1915 and used until August 1917, sometimes under the name of Ravine Wood Cemetery. The cemetery suffered very severely from shell fire, and after the Armistice the positions of the individual graves could not be found or reconstructed. The headstones are therefore arranged symmetrically round the Cross of Sacrifice. The cemetery contains 98 Great War burials. The cemetery was designed by J R Truelove.