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Where did 1/17th London bury their dead?


DRIFTER
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During my research of the 1/17th London Poplar and Stepney Rifles I've searched the CWGC records of cemeteries close to the 1/17th's main locations in the Ypres Salient and found very few recorded burials compared with other London Regiment battalions. From their War Diaries it is clear that the 1/17th lost similar numbers of men to other battalions while in the Salient so where are they? I've recently discovered via CWGC that at least three 1/17th men, KIA on 5th July 1917 when the battalion was in the Hill 60 / Ravine area SE of Ypres, were recovered in 1920 from a site on the present NW outskirts of Ypres and re-buried at New Irish Farm. Given that the War Diary shows that the same number of men to have been KIA for the dates indicated does anyone have any ideas why they would be so far from their battalion's location and whether the 1/17th had specific sites for burials away from the front line?

John

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello John,

Not sure if it's any help,but my Great Grandfather Alfred Collier,was also in the 1/17th London,and was buried in August 1917-so close to your Grandfather's death,in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery,Poperinge,West Vlaanderen.

Kind Regards,

Lorraine.

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I'm no expert but it has to be accepted that any large unit of men will not always be concentrated together in one small patch of area all of the time. Men will be en route home on leave or returning or to and from hospital. Then ration and ammunition parties, water carriers, burial detachments, plus men being sent on courses. Some may be attached to other regiments or RFC for training in sniping, bombing and trench fighting.

That said, I'm sure the 1/17th are not alone in having burials scattered (in what to us without the confusion of battle may seem to be random fashion) but there was no "design" to send corpses tens of miles away from where they died. In most cases it might be the nearest cemetery to a First Aid Post or hospital, or a newly created one for battlefield concentration after particularly heavy fighting. Sometimes there was time for several fallen to be buried together in a trench or shell hole, either by "accident" or design, and those bodies not recovered until much later when the nearest CWGC cemetery may have been closed, in which case they would be re interred at the nearest CWGC site.

So I can't answer your question so long after the events, but I hope you have an understanding that there was no malign intent to spread "your" men about, just to cause irritation almost a 100 years on. If it is of any consolation, you are not alone, many people have asked the same question "Why on earth was he buried here?" We simply don't know, just accept that he was where he had been sent and that fate sent a bullet, bomb or shell to seek him out.

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