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Messines Ridge British Cemetery


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The documents for the Messines Ridge British Cemetery were collected back in December 2016 but I never had it as a Cemetery Posting with the details on the concentrated cemeteries, which I now need.


MediaFire Shared Link to Folders


The first topic for this cemetery in the Unknown Project was for the two Aviators - Battersby & Fitzherbert, back in December 2016. What may turn out to be a related case is Unknowns: Battle of Messines 7 June 1917.


Here is what the CWGC has to say about the cemetery, to which I will add the TMC for the cemeteries that were concentrated, with from the DAL or what I can find in the COG-BR documents. I will also add any other cemeteries listed in the documents or other major areas from which concentrations were made. If there is a COG-BR reference that may just be the first page of a series.



Messines (now Mesen) was considered a strong strategic position, not only from its height above the plain below, but from the extensive system of cellars under the convent known as the 'Institution Royale.' The village was taken from the 1st Cavalry Division by the German 26th Division on 31 October-1 November 1914. An attack by French troops on 6 -7 November was unsuccessful and it was not until the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917 that it was retaken by the New Zealand Division. On 10-11 April 1918, the village fell into German hands once more after a stubborn defence by the South African Brigade, but was retaken for the last time on 28-29 September 1918.


MESSINES RIDGE BRITISH CEMETERY, which stands on ground that belonged to the 'Institution Royale' (the Cross of Sacrifice is on the site of the Institution's windmill), was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefield around Messines and from the following small burial grounds:-


  • BELL FARM CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE 28.O.31.c.3.9, near the South side of the Messines-Kemmel road, where 32 soldiers of the 25th Division were buried in June, 1917.
  • BLAUWEPOORTBEEK CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE 28.O.34.central, 1.6 kms North-East of Messines, where 16 Australian and seven United Kingdom soldiers were buried in August-October, 1917.
  • BOUSBECQUES EAST GERMAN CEMETERY ?, on the South side of the village, where four soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by a German Field Hospital in November, 1914.
    • UPDATE 12 January 2020  - see this post so it appears it is 28.W.2.a.6.5
    • there are more than four (4) soldiers buried there by the Germans - details are in the linked post
    • UPDATED 14 January 2020 - thanks to Luc for sorting out the cemetery locations and revealing that the original description was incorrect (see this post)
      • that would mean that this Bousbecques cemetery is actually to the south of the village but on the WEST side located at 28.Q.34.d.3.4 (COG-BR 2015128)
      • that is a list of fourteen (14) men not just four (4), which I had assumed were the four (4) named on the block of wood  28W.2.a.6.5 (COG-BR 2015130)
      • that means that it now appears the correct TMC for this cemetery is  28.Q.34.d.3.4
  • BRISTOL CASTLE MILITARY CEMETERY, MESSINES 28.T.6.d.7.5, on the Wulverghem road near Wulverghem, where 32 United Kingdom soldiers of the 36th (Ulster) and 14th (Light) Divisions were buried in September and October, 1918.
  • LUMM FARM CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE 28.O.26.d.15.70, a little East of the Messines road, where 13 United Kingdom and two Australian soldiers were buried in June-September, 1917.
  • MIDDLE FARM CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE 28.O.32.a.95.15, near the Messines road 500 metres North of Messines, where 16 Australian, 14 United Kingdom and four New Zealand soldiers were buried in July-December, 1917.
  • ONRAET FARM CEMETERY, WYTSCHAETE 28.O.13.d.80.95, between Wytschaete and St. Eloi, in which 29 soldiers of the 36th Division were buried in June-August, 1917.
  • QUEENSLAND CEMETERY, WARNETON 28.U.4.d.5.9, on the lower road from Messines to Warneton, where 30 Australian soldiers (of whom 23 belonged to the 41st Battalion) and three from the United Kingdom were buried in June and July, 1917.
    • there is a large group here but at 28.U.4.d.6.9 which may be the same place and the CWGC typed it wrong, see COG-BR 2015121
  • RIVER DOUVE CEMETERY, MESSINES 28.U.9.a.30.55 (also called Snitchel Farm) on the river bank South of Messines, containing the graves of 24 Australian and four United Kingdom soldiers who fell in June-November, 1917.


The dates of death of those buried here range from October 1914 to October 1918, but the majority died in the fighting of 1917.


There are now 1,534 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 957 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them, or who were buried in other cemeteries where their graves were destroyed by shell fire.


Within the cemetery stands the MESSINES RIDGE (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL which commemorates over 800 soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in or near Messines in 1917 and 1918 and who have no known grave. This is one of seven memorials in France and Belgium to those New Zealand soldiers who died on the Western Front and whose graves are not known. The memorials are all in cemeteries chosen as appropriate to the fighting in which the men died.


There is a group on COG-BR 2015132 at 28.W.2.a.5.6 with German grave markers from 1914, so that I assume for now was a cemetery. The location does not match the one shown in the DAL so it must be another? They all appear to have been identified. added to list above Bousbecque 12 January 2020 

Edited by laughton
updating information as found; confusion over Bousbecque!
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Possible Unknowns: (I have not checked yet to see if the GRRF already has them named)


There is an interesting one on COG-BR 2015116 where it says the Aussie was identified by his brother!


There are a number of Aussie's in the list for @Becstar

Edited by laughton
updating details in stages
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"COG-BR 2015112 an Aussies with 10035 and a name starting with BO...."

Was identified, Sapper 10035 Edward Burke MESSINES RIDGE BRITISH CEMETERY IV. D. 15.


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COG-BR 2015113 shows an unknown New Zealand soldier of 2nd Machine Gun Corps.

COG-BR 2015114 shows 2 named members of 2nd Machine Gun Corps, both died on 15 June 1917.....

22947 Frank Mullen Cranston https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/482316/cranston,-frank-mullen/ in IV. F. 48.
10/1843 Frederick Heath https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/482442/heath,-fredrick/ in IV. F. 49.

All three were recovered from U.10.d.8.5.
The only other missing candidates from No 2 Company with a date of death of 15 June 1917 are,
BRILL FREDERICK ANDREW F A M M 15/06/1917 Lance Corporal New Zealand Machine Gun Corps No. 2 Coy. 10/1753
LITTLE VICTOR V 15/06/1917 Private New Zealand Machine Gun Corps No. 2 Coy. 23002
NOONAN JOHN JOSEPH J J 31 15/06/1917 Private New Zealand Machine Gun Corps No. 2 Coy. 12244

Little's remains were recovered, https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/records/555269/2. But this doesn't appear to give any details of any burial.
There is no corresponding record of the discovery and identification of the remains of Brill or Noonan in their personnel files. Both were quickly recorded "killed in action"
There seems little chance of tying in the unidentified grave with either of the three above.

Edited by michaelpi
That the files of Brill and Noonan do not record their remains were found.
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DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_func=stream&d Interesting facts on LITTLE. I would not have checked ORs at this stage. Good information!!doc2015113.JPG


Have you looked for others at 28.U.10 .d.8.5 and then if you can find the others you can get a SM if they are in this cemetery. If in different cemeteries you have to promote a "Share a Grave" for the family members (see under Short Listed Candidates).

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This has been moved to:




Edited by laughton
Moved to a separate topic to continue discussion.
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The 9th Lanced with Francis MacDonald is one of these five (5) men. The others may be in the cemetery - have not checked.




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The details of the German burials is quite intriguing.


There was no clear identification as to the location of this cemetery when this topic was started. There did not appear to be any place where there were just four soldiers buried by the Germans. This is what was in the CWGC documents for the Messines Ridge British Cemetery:

  • BOUSBECQUES EAST GERMAN CEMETERY ?, on the South side of the village, where four soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by a German Field Hospital in November, 1914.


Some places the cemetery name has the "c" in the name and other places it does not. The trench map coordinates would be in this area from the COG-BR documents: (may be exactly the same and someone reversed the 5 and 6)

On the map, it may be the circle on the end of the small road [Ypres]28.


Later, it became apparent that this other group of men were also from that cemetery:

That means we have thirty-two (32) men that would all be listed on the GRRF documents for these graves, five (5) of which were unknown from the start (including Case #3 the KRRC Captain), two (2) that were changed from known to unknown, and twenty-five (25) named.


Plot Row Graves GRRF COG-BR Men Buried
5 C 1-9 1821867 2015128 9 named
6 A 46-50 1821873 2015128 5 named
6 A 23-31   2015130

9 listed

- 5 listed unknown

- 2 listed known changed to unknown

- 2 named

6 A 8-16 1821872 2015132 9 named


During the investigation of these men, I was led to the ICRC documents which had the German burial lists ("Totenliste") typed up in January 1915. They start on this ICRC page for document 1052. Once at the first page you can scroll down the pages or you can change the end number in the URL from 1052 to 1053 and so on down the list. At the top of each page you will find tools to print, download or magnify the image.




On these lists were a number of entries that showed where the men were buried, including those that said "Beerdigt zu Bousbecue" (another spelling). This has me puzzled a bit at present, as I have recently seen some of these names elsewhere during this investigation but I cannot remember where! For example, DRUMMER and CARRAD (found him see below) are on the bottom of this page:




They do not exist if you do a CWGC search of the names, so we need to figure out who they really were and then match it to the remains that were concentrated from that cemetery. Moving on we find some of the others:

To find some of the others, you have to look for a name on the COG-BR and then look them up to see if there is another list, and if lucky, another batch of names. For example. I looked up DYER from the Grenadier Guards:

If we go back to the start of this list, that starts at 945, we have a repeat of a lot of the names but in an expanded list. Here we have some regiments and service numbers that help us track down those not previously found. On this page alone we have:


Another series starting at 629 found by looking for LEIGHTON, but these are strange as it says "Beerdigt zu Werwick" which is a different German cemetery? He is with a group that is on COG-BR 2015130 where BENNETT and SULLIVAN were stroked out and changed to UBS!


  • https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/List/3630390/698/630/
    • COASEY = CREASEY Grave 6.A.26
      • he is listed as being in the "Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery Grave 4.D.11
      • he is listed as being concentrated from WERVICQ Communal Cemetery German Extension 28.Q.25.a.5.1
      • Wervicq is the main community about 3,000 yards northwest of Bousbecque
    • BENNET
      • have not found him yet and not a lot of detail on ICRC other than date of 10 November 1914
      • perhaps he is in Larch Wood as well, I will have to go and check all those names - there are some similar!
    • LEIGHTON Grave 6.A.25
      • so how did he end up being listed as concentrated from Bousbecque if he was buried in Wervicq? 
      • granted, the two communities are close but they clearly have separate trench map coordinates so he could not be in 28.Q.25.a.5.1 at the same time he is in 28.W.2.a.6.5
      • Bennet and Leighton were both listed as being in "Feld Laz 4 XV.A.K. Werwick"
  • https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/List/3630390/698/633/
    • DIXON - repeat but with more information Grave 5.C.6


There are probably more .... taking a break for now.


Edited by laughton
updating as more records found ...
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6 hours ago, laughton said:

It would appear that the details from the ICRC are telling me that some of these men were not buried where stated but in another German cemetery  so they can not be in two places at the same time!

  • name is linked to CWGC Record
  • (###) is linked to ICRC Record


Plot Row Graves GRRF COG-BR Men Buried Names of Men on Lists (corrected)
5 C 1-9 1821867 2015128 9 named

J. Nolan (1057) (945)

A. Pickett (1057) (945)

H. Dryer (948) (949)

A. B. Edney (945)

G. Meredith (1055) (945)

R. Dixon (945) (633)

J. T. Mathes (1055)

Shute (1056) (945)

J. Whitson (1056) (945)

6 A 46-50 1821873 2015128 5 named

H. Blower (1058) (948)

Henrich Sharpe (1056) (945)

J. O'Connor (1062) (949)

William Kennard (1057) (945)

F. Garrad (945)

6 A 23-31  1821872 2015130

9 listed

- 5 listed unknown

- 2 listed known changed to unknown

- 2 named

UBS - was E. H. W. Gullivan (Sullivan?) (630)

UBS - was Bennett (630)

J. Leighton 5562 (can't be here as at Wervicq) (630)

T. Creasey 8713 (630)



UBS - KRR Captain (our man found)



6 A 8-16 1821872 2015132 9 named

J. Attwell 7938 (can't be here as at Wervicq) (950)

D. Joyce 7872 (negatif envoye)

R. S. O'Brien 10882 (can't be here as at Wervicq) (950) (535) (537)

T. Ryan 8898 (can't be here as at Wervicq) (950) (535)

A. Allan 393 - have not found yet

W. Luxmore 15854

     - (27 October 1914 not 17 November)

     - (can't be here as at Wervicq) (949)

C. Martin 7974 (can't be here as at Wervicq) (1062) (1100)

T. Durkin 6717

     - (can't be here as at Wervicq)

     - (949) (909) (717) (763?)

J. Hadden 8892 (BTB) - not found yet


- got all the ones I can find so far, still some missing

Edited by laughton
updating table in stages
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4 hours ago, laughton said:

Some places the cemetery name has the "c" in the name and other places it does not. The trench map coordinates would be in this area from the COG-BR documents: (may be exactly the same and someone reversed the 5 and 6)

On the map, it may be the circle on the end of the small road [Ypres]28.


Later, it became apparent that this other group of men were also from that cemetery:




why do you assume that these are the same cemetery?

28.W.2 is Wervicq-sud (there is a cemetery on the trench map) and 28.Q.34 is Bousbecque.

These are quite some distance away from each other.



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No, I don't think they are the same. Quite the opposite. Thus the men cannot be in two different cemeteries.

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@LDT006 Luc:


Apologies for the quick reply above, as I was at the farm and responding from my BlackBerry.


In the table in the post above, you will see a number of men that have a notation by their name: (can't be here as at Wervicq)


You know a lot more about the German records and how they match/link to the ICRC records than me, so I am very interested in your input. It seems to me that the GRU/IWGC has a number of men, seven (7) at least, that are named in the Messines British Cemetery after they were "supposedly" concentrated from the Bousbecque cemetery. The ICRC records suggest that they were initially buried in the Wervicq cemetery, so something is very wrong somewhere.


These all relate to my investigation of the KRRC Captain as I don't want to leave him in the same situation.


I had always thought that the GRU/IWGC checked the men against the ICRC records when they were making their lists. If that was true, they would have come to the same conclusion. These cases make me think they did not check the POW (aka German Lists).


Am I missing something here?


I will need to go back to Larch Wood (Railway Cutting) Cemetery and see what they have listed such as on COG-BR 2226293 for the Wervicq cemetery concentrations.



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47 minutes ago, laughton said:

It seems to me that the GRU/IWGC has a number of men, seven (7) at least, that are named in the Messines British Cemetery after they were "supposedly" concentrated from the Bousbecque cemetery. The ICRC records suggest that they were initially buried in the Wervicq cemetery, so something is very wrong somewhere.


This is what I don't understand and quickly checked 3 of these: Leighton, Attwell and O'Brien..

All 3 were exhumed from Wervicq-Sud in their CWGC records and also reported buried there at ICRC.

Do you have records that these were buried at Bousbecque?



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Just had a closer look at these and the CWGC description for Messines Ridge is wrong:


BOUSBECQUES EAST GERMAN CEMETERY ?, on the South side of the village, where four soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by a German Field Hospital in November, 1914.


doc2015130 28W.2.a.6.5 is for the cemetery at Wervicq Sud and it has a mark for 4 soldiers who were buried by the germans. This is probably where the 4 in their description comes from. But they didn't realize  that all were buried by the germans including those on doc2015132 28.W.2.a.5.6.

Also Wervicq Sud is to the west of Bousbecque iso east.

Those from the cemetery to the south of Bousbecque are on doc2015128 28.Q.34.d.3.4


CWGC will change that description if someone provides them with the details above.




Note: There was, and still is, a large german cemetery at Bousbeque at 28.W.4.b.7.4. to the south of the Communal Cemetery.

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I have been going through all the entries for the last hour and my head is spinning! Somehow I got it in my head that the cemetery was the one at 28.W.2.a.6.5 but I see what you are saying about it being the one at 28.Q.34.d.3.4.


So when I was working on the case to the KRRC Captain, I took the four (4) soldiers at Bousbecques as the four with the sign that they were buried by the Germans 28W.2.a.6.5 COG-BR 2015130. The KRR Captain is on that same list.


The alternative was that they were the ones at 28.Q.34.d.3.4 (COG-BR 2015128), which I dismissed as it was way more than four (4) burials. That means that I erred if I placed Captain John Spottiswoode of the KRRC at the German Field Hospital at Bousbecque, as he was buried at Wervicq. It was the only one on the south side of the village that could be called EAST (of Wervicq), for as you noted the other one is on the WEST side of Bousbecque.


The CWGC has told us before that the text on their web pages is from the ORIGINAL REGISTERS that date back to the 1920s, thus they don't change them. That resulted in many of us spending years looking for CA40 at the Nine Elms Military Cemetery. That is still not resolved.


Back to the drawing board! I will put a note with the previous entries.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Found this discussion (and forum) while researching those listed on a memorial local to me, and hoping you can help answer a few questions


Sapper Frederick Evans (COG-BR 2015174) from the document seems to be have found in a separate, marked, grave (no others found on the same map reference) and reburied in the Messines Ridge cemetery.


What geographic location does the map reference match to? Are the maps used (that the references were taken from) available anywhere?

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Just noticed that you had posted - not sure why I never got pinged? In future if you want to direct a question to someone, put @username in the text of your post, such as @JamesB and now you should be pinged.


Sapper Frederick Evans on COG-BR 2015174 was found at 28.U.1.b.4.7 (note they had not put the main map number "28" at the front).


If you have never used trench maps before, I can suggest you read an article (or at least the first part) I wrote just for that purpose: GET SQUARED! Use a Trench Map


If you want to skip that and just find the map, use the McMaster Lloyd Reeds Collection here:



On the main map index you will see there is a SECTOR 28 that has Ypres written in the middle. Click on that and you will come to this page:



They are sorted by size and date, so scroll down until you see the first one with just the number 28 in the second column that is 1:40,000, which is this one:



Drag your mouse over the map and you will see a menu appear in the upper left corner of the map - click the button on the right to TOGGLE FULL PAGE. Your mouse wheel now can be used to change the size of the map. Do that and look for the SUB-SECTOR U. So in terms of the location ID you are now at 28.U.


Now you want to go to the SQUARE 1 inside the U Sub-Sector, so the upper left corner close to where it says Messines. You are now in 28.U.1. If you read the article, you know that the SQUARE 1 is divided into 4 SUB-SQUARES a,b,c,d.

a b
c d


From the trench map coordinates you know you want 28.U.1.b. The SUB-SQUARE b is 500 yards by 500 yards, each marked on a detailed trench map at 10 intervals of 50 yards each. You want 28.U.1.b.4.7 which is 4 (4x50=200 yds) across the bottom and 7 (7x50=350 yds up). You can't really see the detail on that map but it gives you and idea that it is just north of the road from Wulverghem to Messines.


You are in the SW sector, so you can go find one of the other maps in a smaller scale, such as:



That has very faint 50 yard markers. You can get much more detail from other trench maps if you have access, such as the UK DVD set:




That is just the beginning of the adventure!  You can use other programs to find out the GPS coordinates (which are 50.764056 2.882987) and see where that spot is on a satellite image




That is all for now!



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  • 2 months later...
On 30/11/2019 at 23:14, laughton said:


Hi there, Richard


Do you know if this individual still unknown ? 

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The records indicate that he was not identified at the time nor is he on the case list as of April 2019, which sadly the CWGC no longer updates.

Plot 4 Row E Grave 6 still shows an "Unknown New Zealand Serjeant".






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Thanks Richard


My grandfather lost one his best mates in the attack on Messines ... Sergeant Henry Rowe (12/2559) - 3rd (Auckland) Company, 1st Auckland Infantry Battalion ... hence why it caught my eye.


Sgt Rowe has no known grave.



Unfortunately my grandfather gives no details of the action beyond mentioning Rowes death.  


7/6/17 Thursday    Attacked at 3.10am and had a pretty easy spin. Lost one of my mates, Sgt H Rowe, shot in the head. Dug in on Black Line and having a dam rough time. Aussies went through & took Owl Trench but got shelled out by our own artillery and lost heavy from machine guns. Huns shelled us heavy at night but no counter attack. Got buried again in trench and all the stuff in my haversack blown up, also my rifle broken. 


If only the CWGC would attempt DNA grabs of the unknowns ... would be great to identify them  ! 



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I don't recall all the minute details of the January 2020 hunt for the New Zealand Officer (this topic) but if you go back to your post on that topic (this link) and then look at the marked up trench maps prior to that post, you can see where the remains of the Sergeant (CWGC uses Serjeant?) were found at 28.U.2.a.9.9. To me, that looks like the bubble on the Blue Line where it marks the Moulin de l'Hospice.


I am assuming that your grandfather was in 1st Auckland with Serjeant Rowe? The Official History says: (page 144)


At dusk on the 6th, 1/Auckland fell in and commenced the march from Canteen Corner to their battle-station in Hanbury Support. The march across open country was very slow, and owing to numerous delays and halts it was after midnight when the Battalion reached Hill 63. From there on progress was still more difficult. Strict orders had been issued that all troops moving forward must keep to the saps. The main sap leading from the crest of the hill forward to the assembly point was crowded, and stoppages were frequent. All night long the German gas shells were bursting on the slope. Every now and again helmets had to be worn, and progress ceased for the time being. Casualties occurred.


And then following (page 147), so we know that 2nd Auckland was in that area and 1st Auckland passed to the right:


2/Auckland concentrated round the Moulin de l'Hospice, and there took shelter in shell-holes and hastily dug trenches, waiting orders, while the 1/Battalion, passing to the right of Messines, drew up on the Wytschaete-Messines road in readiness for the attack on Ungodly Trench. At 4.55 a.m. the barrage moved forward. Nothing could face it, scarcely anything live under it, and so the 6th and 16th Companies had no difficulty in occupying the trench.


Back in post #18 of the Officer topic, Jeff had a trench map showing 1st Auckland on the south (right) side of Messines. If they started in Hanbury Support Trench (north: 28.U.1.c or south 28.U.1.d) and moved toward Ungodly Trench 28.U.3.c-d, I don't see them passing through the area where the remains were recovered. Problem is, there were no Serjeants of 2nd Auckland missing at that time, just Rowe and Byers of 1st Auckland (CWGC Link). The other logical alternative would be Serjeant Stevenson of 1st Wellington (CWGC Link). Serjeant Hickson of 2nd Wellington was killed back in the assembly trenches at 28.U.1.c.3.8 (COG-BR 1837947).


The official history says that 1st Wellington also started at Hanbury Support (page 163). It goes on to say that they "skirted the village" and did not go through it, so I presume that was on the north (left) side of Messines, also shown on Jeff's map.



Edited by laughton
... continuing
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