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Remembered Today:

Marfaux British Cemetery-Marne


Peter Bennett
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Passing Marfaux Cemetery last Saturday We noticed that about 10-15 headstones were missing, with the standard CWGC metal plate with green label stating that a replacement headstone was on order.

All these headstones were in sections 1 & 5 which are the ones by the roadside. The condition of the rest of the headstones in the Cemetery was excellent so it did not look as if erosion was the problem. We sadly came to the conclusion that there had been some deliberate vandalism & desecration but I cannot find anything on the internet.

Can anyone explain or elaborate.

Thank you

Peter

Cemetery: MARFAUX BRITISH CEMETERY

Country: France

Locality: Marne

Visiting Information: Wheelchair access to this cemetery is possible with some difficulty. For further information regarding wheelchair access, please contact our Enquiries Section on telephone number 01628 507200.

Location Information: Marfaux is a commune 18.5 kilometres from Reims and 16 kilometres from Epernay. Marfaux British Cemetery is about one kilometre south-east of the village along the RD386, on the north-east side of the road to Nanteuil-la-Foret and on the south-east side of the crossroad from Bois-de-Courton. The Marfaux (New Zealand) Memorial takes the forms of a panel stone erected in the shelter in Marfaux British Cemetery, and commemorates, by name, 10 casualties of the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion who fell in July 1918 and who have no known grave.

Historical Information: Marfaux was captured by the Germans in May 1918, and retaken, after severe fighting, on the 23rd July, by the 51st (Highland) and 62nd (West Riding) Divisions and the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion. The cemetery was begun after the Armistice by the concentration of graves from the battlefields and from other Military Cemeteries in the Marne, including:- BASLIEUX MILITARY CEMETERY, a little North of the village of Baslieux-les-Fismes: 41 soldiers 25th Div., May 1918. BOIS-D'AULNAY BRITISH CEMETERY, CHAUMUZY, South-west of Marfaux across the Ardre: 22 soldiers, mainly 51st Div., July 1918. BROUILLET GERMAN CEMETERY: 4 soldiers, May-June 1918. BUSSY-LE-CHATEAU FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY, East of the village: 3 soldiers, August 1918 (and 800 French, 200 German, 10 American). CHALONS-SUR-VESLE FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY: 1 soldier, June 1918. CHAMERY MILITARY CEMETERY, South-west of the village: 1 soldier (and 19 French). CORMICY FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY (not the permanent MAISON-BLEUE FRENCH NATIONAL CEMETERY, at the Cormicy Aguilcourt cross-roads on the main Laon-Reims road). COURVILLE MILITARY CEMETERY, in South part of village: 22 soldiers, May-June 1918 (and 250 French and 130 German). CRUGNY HOSPITAL CEMETERY, a German cemetery: 1 soldier, June 1918. CUITRON BRITISH CEMETERY, MARFAUX, in the middle of a cornfield, made by the 62nd Div. Burial Officer: 60 soldiers (mainly 8th West Yorks), July 1918. FISMES GERMAN CEMETERY (in Hospital grounds): 1 soldier, June 1918. LAGERY HOSPITAL CEMETERY, a German cemetery: 1 soldier, June 1918. LES VENTEAUX GERMAN CEMETERY, MONTIGNY-SUR-VESLE: 6 soldiers, May-June 1918. MARFAUX CHURCHYARD EXTENSION, made by 59th Field Ambulance: 11 soldiers, June 1918. MONTIGNY-SUR-VESLE MILITARY CEMETERY, used by French until 27th May and then by Germans: 60 soldiers, May-July 1918 (and 1400 French and 1100 German). MOULIN DE L'ARDRE BRITISH CEMETERY, MARFAUX: 22 soldiers (all 51st Div.), July 1918. NANTEUIL-LA-FOSSE MILITARY CEMETERY (Marne), made by Field Ambulances: 38 soldiers (and 16 French), May-July 1918. PEVY GERMAN CEMETERY: 5 soldiers, May-July 1918. POURCY BRITISH CEMETERIES No.1 and No.2, MARFAUX, both made by the 62nd Division: 77 soldiers and 14 soldiers, July 1918. PROUILLY MILITARY CEMETERY, started by Germans and continued by French: 7 unidentified soldiers (and 500 French and 120 German). ROMAIN MILITARY CEMETERY, near the Chateau: 3 soldiers, June 1918 (and 350 French and some German). ST. GILLES MILITARY CEMETERY: 1 soldier, May 1918 (and 756 French and 246 German). SAPICOURT FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY, COURCELLES-SAPICOURT: 2 soldiers, June 1918. SERMIERS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION: 3 soldiers, July 1918 (and 30 French). VAUX-VARENNES MILITARY CEMETERY, BOUVANCOURT: 1 soldier, buried by enemy, June 1918 (and 400 French and 60 German). VENTELAY FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY: 2 soldiers. VILLE-DOMMANGE MILITARY CEMETERY: 4 soldiers, June-July 1918 (and 830 French and 170 German). There are over 1,000, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 300 are unidentified and special memorials are erected to eight soldiers from the United Kingdom known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 12 soldiers from the United Kingdom, buried in other cemeteries, whose graves could not be found. Ten of the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion who fell in July 1918, whose graves could not be found, are commemorated on a memorial erected in the shelter. The cemetery covers an area of 4,162 square metres and is enclosed on three sides by a low rubble wall.

No. of Identified Casualties: 788

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Hi Peter,

That is a plausible explanation for that sad state of affairs. Pierre Vandervelden and myself met you (quite by chance) in that half-forgotten Aisne cemetery last Saturday and for our part have not seen any broken or desecrated stone in the 42 cemeteries and memorials we visited over the week-end.

Hope you haven't knocked down all that wonderful champagne yet !

All the best.

Jean-Michel

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Jean-Michel

What a small world it is, meeting you both at a village cemetery with only the one Commonwealth War Grave.

The champagne is on ice at present, I am resisting the temptation so far.........................

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Peter,

I remember the local newspaper stating a (saturday night- oups...) car accident with 2 wounded on Marfaux Cemetery.

A dozen of graves was destroyed.

Have a look on Google and search " Marfaux cimetiere accident" and you will see the destroyed graves with car wheels parts.

Florent

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A news report says that a young French woman driving a Peugeot 206 with a 14-month-old baby in the back, lost control on a bend in wet weather, slewed across the road, mounted the verge and ploughed through three rows of headstones, damaging 10 of them. It seems the cemetery does not have a boundary wall. Driver and baby were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

post-11021-1253795486.jpg

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We sadly came to the conclusion that there had been some deliberate vandalism & desecration

Seeing the location of the damaged stones, a car accident is the first thing that would have occurred to me. But I am a glass-half-full sorta person, and don't tend to assume the worst.

Good to know that no one was seriously injured.

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Seeing the location of the damaged stones, a car accident is the first thing that would have occurred to me. But I am a glass-half-full sorta person, and don't tend to assume the worst.

Good to know that no one was seriously injured.

I'm pleased that I was wrong regarding any vandalism, but it is easier to pontificate on half-full glasses when you have read the story and seen the photos.

The driver must have been going at some speed as the embankment is almost vertical and what sort of velocity mows down 10 headstones ?

The photo shows the bend in question and the proximity to the height from the road.

post-7183-1253822079.jpg

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I'm pleased that I was wrong regarding any vandalism, but it is easier to pontificate on half-full glasses when you have read the story and seen the photos.

Having gone to the trouble of finding, translating and posting the news report for you, Peter, I'm dismayed by your attitude - and the ease with which you jumped to conclusions about the cause of the damage.

The circumstances of the accident will no doubt have been investigated by the local police, and I assume the driver's insurance company will pay for the replacement of the damaged headstones. If we could ask the lads buried beneath them, I suspect they would say it was the most exciting thing that had happened in 90 years and that they were just glad the young woman and her baby were not badly hurt.

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Having gone to the trouble of finding, translating and posting the news report for you, Peter, I'm dismayed by your attitude - and the ease with which you jumped to conclusions about the cause of the damage.

The circumstances of the accident will no doubt have been investigated by the local police, and I assume the driver's insurance company will pay for the replacement of the damaged headstones. If we could ask the lads buried beneath them, I suspect they would say it was the most exciting thing that had happened in 90 years and that they were just glad the young woman and her baby were not badly hurt.

My remarks were not aimed at you and I apologise for not replying to thank you. My comments were aimed at the half-full glass comment by the other member, which if you look again at the postings are encapsulated in my reply.

On the day I visited, the turf must have been replaced earlier as there were no signs of anything which had mounted the embankment, only the missing headstones. I think if anyone were to stand at the side of the road and look at the trajectory of this vehicle it must have been almost vertical. If you think that I jumped to conclusions then that is your opinion, having seen the original crash photos we can all be wise after the event.

Once again I apologise for not thanking you and making it clear who my comments were aimed at.

Peter

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It was perfectly clear at whom your comments were aimed, although I fail to see why you think I deserved such churlishness. I think you are very rude. Consider my metaphorical glass now empty.

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My remarks were not aimed at you and I apologise for not replying to thank you. My comments were aimed at the half-full glass comment by the other member, which if you look again at the postings are encapsulated in my reply.

On the day I visited, the turf must have been replaced earlier as there were no signs of anything which had mounted the embankment, only the missing headstones. I think if anyone were to stand at the side of the road and look at the trajectory of this vehicle it must have been almost vertical. If you think that I jumped to conclusions then that is your opinion, having seen the original crash photos we can all be wise after the event.

Once again I apologise for not thanking you and making it clear who my comments were aimed at.

Peter

I knew exactly who your remarks were aimed at - and that's what I was objecting to ...

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Well we could continue hurling insults and adjectives forever, and now it is two versus one.

I too am glad no one was seriously injured but the driver might ask herself why she was travelling at what must have been over 60-70mph around such a sharp bend in wet conditions with a baby on board.

Go to the cemetery and stand by the roadside and speculate how a car could mount the embankment. There was no evidence of furrows or otherwise on the turf. Seeing a number of headstones missing, is the idea that vandalism may have taken place totally out of the question ?

Siege Gunner, it is your perogative to take sides, I have no issue with you.

Greyhound, clearly you don't see anything wrong with your patronising comment which kicked off this magniloquence.

Carry on having a go at me, I shall not reply further.

Hi Peter,

I remember the local newspaper stating a (saturday night- oups...) car accident with 2 wounded on Marfaux Cemetery.

A dozen of graves was destroyed.

Have a look on Google and search " Marfaux cimetiere accident" and you will see the destroyed graves with car wheels parts.

Florent

Florent, thank you for posting this information, sorry it has turned so sour.

Peter

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  • 7 months later...

I visited Marfaux at the beginning of the month and was wondering why so many headstones had been removed from one part of the cemetery. In fact, as I got nearer the row where my relative is buried I began to think that I might have come all this way and not got to see his grave. As it happens the car must have just missed him! There wasn't any evidence left of the crash other than the missing headstones, the plants were all in place and the tracks grassed over and levelled, so I just assumed that they must have been removed for routine work. It's probably just as well for the woman that there isn't a wall there! I wonder when the stones will be ready for putting back?

Funnily enough as I was there a mini came tearing down the road from Marfaux, so maybe it's known as a place to put your foot down (although the bend is dodgy)!

Martin

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It looks like a very nice cemetery as all are that I have seen in Europe I am sure that they will fix the Head Stones now there has been a problem maybe a barrier of sorts. I know that driving in France can be tricky roads are narrow in places I drive very carefully over there.

Hope everybody has a good day

Rick

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Rick,

It is indeed one of the nicest cemeterys in France. Beautifully set and in perfect Champagne countryside. I spent a lovely summers eve there probably 10 years ago with a friend whose relative serving with the West Yorkshire Regt buried there.

Had a nice cold beer wandering around and raised by beer for the lads who would have loved a glass I like to think!

Regards

TT

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Hi TT.

and the cemetery marks about the furthest extent of the 2/5th West Yorks advance on the 20th July 1918.

Best wishes.

Chris.

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