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Remembered Today:

Brielen School Yard 24 April 1915: Where is Fred & Fred?


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Once again I certainly was not looking for this but here is a very clear description in the Canadian records of the 2nd Field Ambulance of the burial of two British soldiers on 24 April 1915. Both of these men are listed on the Menin Gate Memorial, so perhaps the British never knew that the Canadians had their location recorded. They are buried 100 yards southeast of the School, in the school yard, at Brielen. It should be possible to pinpoint the location of the school from the historical records.


Update: If they are talking about the same school that is in Brielen today, it is clear on Google Earth and very old, located northwest of the Church on the north side of the main road at GPS = 50°52'7.36"N 2°50'48.24"E. I would put that at about 28.B.29.a.5.3. The school yard does go to the southeast but on the north side of the road, at the bottom left corner of the big letter B in the Brielen name (see trench map below). It should be possible to look for an exhumation/concentration with those coordinates, which come out exact on the trench map converter.


Here are their CWGC Records:


A quick search of the CWGC site gives me 4 hits on cemeteries related to Brielen so I will go have a look at those:



Edited by laughton
added update on school location; modified tags; marked map and moved it to Post #3
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I already had the documents downloaded for Haigle Dump Cemetery so that was easy to check. The concentrations from the Brielen Military Cemetery are very clear on COG-BR documents 1815740 and 1815741 but there are none with the map coordinates for the school. You would think that if they were already in Brielen doing concentrations that they would do two-for-one?


Solferino Farm Cemetery was a "bust" as it was all circa 1917-1918 burials. I have added the records to the database for those that can use the information:



Buffs Road Cemetery does have the single exhumation from the Brielen Churchyard Cemetery at COG-BR document 1811651 but nothing from the school.


One left, fingers crossed, it is the big one Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery. The records are now here:



There is a 1918 burial at Duhallow for those coordinates on COG-BR document 2151618 at 28.B.29.a.7.1 so they were there! Again later in the next square COG-BR 2151705 at 28.B.28.b.5.8 -  so close but no recovery.


WHO IS GOING TO ASK - Are they still in the schoolyard?


Someone from the area may have a better idea of where else they might be located. It could have been decades later when they were found and moved to whatever cemetery happened to be open for concentrations.

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It looks like Haigle Dump is the place they would have to be, for as I continue through the war diary I find Michael Clancy #8158 and he is reported buried in the Dressing Station Brielen, which from the map is very close at 28.B.29.c.75.80 which is more in line with the 150 yard separation but it is to the southwest and not the southeastMy mistake, it is to the southeast, I had marked B.28 in error.


War Diary Entry:http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e062/e001535561.jpg

COG-BR: http://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc1815740.JPG


You have to look closely at that one, as they changed Clancey #5084 to Clancy #8158? Hope they got that right!


As we progress through the war diary there is an Appendix with a direct reference to the school at 28.B.29.A.2.6 so that would be the school rather than the burial ground at the school, so we have the correct place. They moved on the 24th due to the shelling, so that is why all the others are buried in the cemetery where they were found. That raises the possibility that the schoolyard was destroyed in the shelling.


It does not appear that they ever went back to the dressing station at the school. They left in a hurry and I bet the Canadian's never told the British that they had buried two of their men in the schoolyard.


Someone should go have a look!

Edited by laughton
typo, then error
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I have been poking around in a number of the Belgian Cemeteries where Fred & Fred may have gone but no sign of them.


If they were lost because the cemetery and the school (dressing station) was shelled and destroyed, then they should have a "KIPLING SPECIAL MEMORIAL 'E' TYPE" and not be on the MENIN GATE MEMORIAL. If they did not do that because they have not been found, that enhances the possibility that the remains are still in the school yard.


I have moved the trench map down to this point and marked the various references given above.



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  • 1 year later...

I was taking a look at this today as part of the classification of the case list. Checking the CWGC notes on the Hagle Dump Cemetery I see reference to the Brielen Military Cemetery, close to the south side of the village. There is a good chance that is the cemetery that is reference as being in Sector 28.B.29.c.



Elverdinge was behind the Allied front line throughout the war, and Hospital Farm and Ferme-Olivier Cemeteries, both in the commune, were used in the earlier years for Commonwealth burials. The cemetery, which was begun in April 1918, during the Battles of Lys, was named after a nearby stores dump. It was used by fighting units and field ambulances until the following October and was enlarged after the Armistice when more than 200 graves were brought into Plots III and IV from the battlefields of the Ypres Salient and the following cemetery:- BRIELEN MILITARY CEMETERY, which was close to the South side of Brielen village, contained the graves of 31 French soldiers, 16 from the United Kingdom and four Canadian, and was used from April 1915 to September 1917.


Then the thought struck me  !:shock:!, there are Canadians buried in Hagle Dump from that area, so I should be able to check their Casualty Cards and see if that is where they were buried. BINGO! Sergeant Gordon Valentine Boone #42082, 1st Brigade Canadian Field Artillery, was KIA and buried in the yard of the School House. Although exhumed from 28.B.29.c he was reported as buried in the sector where the school was located 28.B.29.a. So now I have proof that the men of the Brielen School Yard were exhumed and buried in Hagle Dump.








Buried next to him was Gunner McIsaac #41181, who although not named as buried in the same school yard, is referenced as being buried at 28.B.29.d.6.4, most certainly in the near vicinity of the school as well. He was recovered at the same location, which was the school burial yard - or as we now know "Brielin Military Cemetery". Also buried with them was Priiivate William Johnson #10663 (real name was Patrick John Tobin). In his case, the file says that this was "not a registered Military Burial Ground".


This is the COG-BR 1815740 that records the four (4) Canadians referenced by the CWGC:




This is the next page, just to correct an error if someone is checking these forms, as it gives the total of 16 British soldiers mention in the CWGC report. The last one on this page is not C.F.A. as stated, rather R.F.A. (Gunner Charles Walter Short).




There are no other exhumations listed in this cemetery from that area.


I will look for some other Canadians, buried elsewhere (i.e. Duhallow) that were buried at those coordinates. Somewhere there has to be a few UBS that meet the criteria. IF not, then we are back to them still being in the school yard.


The British Officer I mentioned in an earlier post that came from the Brielen Churchyard and concentrated into Buffs Road Cemetery, was 2nd Lieut. Balcombe-Crown, which you will see is on this COG-BR. Note that he was not recovered until 1925, so six (6) years after the others mentioned above. It does not appear that his grave had a cross, rather he may have been found when someone noticed the reference to his burial in the letter from the 9th Coy Royal Engineers. You would think that if they went back to look for this Officer then they checked out the complete area?  That is recorded here:


(Guest might know if the letter was in the Officer's file?)




While checking into May 1915 to see if there were other men listed, I discovered that the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance took the time on May 7th to write a more detailed report on the actions in late April 1915, which covers a lot of detail related to the school. That report is inserted between the pages for May 7th and May 8th in the Canadian war diary collection. I have copied those pages and placed them here in a PDF file:



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  • 1 year later...

There may be more information in the war diary that has not been evaluated, including a listing of dead on page 15 which are not for the dates in May but rather back in April. I am going to come back and check these out further. It appears warranted to actually put the Canadian war diary pages here as others may catch some detail I have missed. This iption has been enhanced since the University of Victoria (B.C.) took over the Great War Project.


I left the front pages in here as it gives some background to what was happening in the days of the great gas attack and German assault. Note the page number in the upper right corner, this being page 4. You have to go to page 7 to find the reference about the school yard and the two (2) dead buried there.
It is on this page 7 at 12 noon on 24 April 1915 you will see the reference to the two (2) dead being buried in the yard by (or of? - might be significant difference) the school house. The original war diary entry in April 1915 (see post #1) says it was in the school yard, 100 yards southeast of the school. It also says the burial took place at 9am but it is not clear if that was the "starting time" for the war diary entry, as the next entry is at 6 pm.
It appears that at the same time they buried the two dead in the school yard they had to move the dressing station. That suggests they did not have a lot of time on their hands - did they just bury them and run? No cross or any other indication of the burials? I guess they did not think of us back here 104 years later trying to solve the mystery!

On the last page posted below you willl see: (linked to Ancestry version of Casualty Card for the moment)


  • Pitts #33152 - died opf wounds and reported buried at Wieltje Farm or Garden Villa 28.C.28.a.4.0
  • Bacon #33011 - killed in action at No. 2 CFA, buried Town Cemetery Extension
  • McKay#32971 - died of wounds, buried in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery



Edited by laughton
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  • 6 months later...

While working on the transcription of the "White Cross Touring Atlas of the Western Battlefields" I noticed that one of the cemeteries carried the "Brielen" name. Good idea - check what the book lists for that area:

Malakoff Farm, Brielen




E 6





A look at that page shows that one is on the road to the northwest leaving town. In the area is also:

  • 932 - looks to be on the north side of Brielen, maybe where the school was located
    • the index page that has that number has not been completed to date - check back later
  • 250 - on the south side of Brielen, perhaps where the Aid Post was located
    • shows up on the search as 
      Brielen Military Cemetery




      F 6







Edited by laughton
added other sites found
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@Aurel Sercu


I am not sure that you ever saw this topic, so I thought I would bring it to your attention. When you posted about Alexis Helmer and Malakoff Farm on the CEFSG yesterday it reminded me about your local knowledge of the areas and farms around Ypres.


By chance, would you have any knowledge about the area around Brielen where Fred & Fred were reported buried? The logical place for them appeared to be the Hagle Dump Cemetery, as that is where they concentrated men from the Brielen Military Cemetery, which I believe was the site of the Aid Post south of the school. I don't see them there, so it raises the question as to whether they are still in the school yard. Any idea what is in that area now?


All the best,


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As I said elsewhere, I stopped my research 3 years ago. And the reason was also that things were getting beyond me. Since then things have dropped a little in my memory. But when I went to your topic, I immediately sighed : Oh no ! There he is again !!! No, not you, but : Sergeant Boone ! This was so confusing to me at the time, and frustrating. (Yes, he was in my Helmer research too, indirectly.) I even remember that I gave the man the somewhat disrespectful nickname "mole", for a man who was exhumed from co-ordinates different from where he had been buried initially.

Looking at the Burial Return, it came back immediately : I did not know how to read what I see (saw) as  B.29.cd (!!!).75.50  (= for Clancey, McIsaac and Boone)

On a different document in your # 5 I see : Brielen (Sh 28.B.29. ? .6.4) Where I write an interrogation mark, is that an a or d ? I really don't know.


And these things, together with so many error-like things in the Helmer case, did me decide to give up, 3 years ago.


You want one more example ? Did you know that on the Body Density maps there is another Brie(r)lin [sic] Military Cemetery ? Road Ypres to Boezinge, near Bard Cottage Cem. and the present Lakebos plant. But I think that location/name must be ... an error.


And I also admit that I had problems with : where was prewar  Brielen School ? Was it a little north of the church, where the school is now ? Or was it just south of the built-up area, the road Brielen to Vlamertinge, near the beginning of the road, and roadside ...


Sorry I can't help you

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Going through my old stuff of over 3 or 4 or 5 years ago ..., and finding this ...

Just to illustrate that even things indirectly related to Alexis Helmer almost drove me crazy, and certainly desperate. (Look at the question marks for Boone and other "moles" ... Even know I still shudder ..)



Gesneuvelden CAF ten W van kanaal.jpg

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