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laughton

Hermonville Military Cemetery

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laughton

This cemetery was research in relation to a nearby cemetery in the Reims Sector, as it appeared to be the closest to likely have related burials for May-July 1918:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/279064-jonchery-sur-vesle-british-cemetery/

There will be additional work to look for other cemeteries in the area that may also contain burials from this period.

 

As a Canadian, this is a part of the Great War for which I must start at Ground Zero and learn. It appears to be all related to The Battle of the Aisne 1918. Like Operation Michael, it appears the German offensive petered out on 6 June 1918.

 

These two cemeteries are not yet as easy to examine as others, as they have what I believe are the French burial (trench map) coordinates for the graves. Although it is not marked on the McMaster Master Map Index, there is a Soissons 22 Map (1/100,000) in their collection. That map does go as far south as Chateau-Thierry and within 3 Km of Reims on the east, so it should cover the area. I have also found some smaller scale maps listed under the Chasseaud Collection, one of which includes Berry au Bac [Aisne River Region, between Condé and Rethel], which is marked as Map 76 N.E. and with the standard grid references. That places Berry au Bac at 76.J.21.c (it fills all of "c"). On the Soissons 22 Map Berry au Bac is at 22.2.K 24x54. if I have those coordinates figured out roughly at least! On these maps, versus regular trench maps, it appears they report the vertical mark (numbers) before the horizontal mark (letters),then for the internal grid marks it is % across the bottom followed by % up. (NOTE: use this search page to look for other maps - just adjust the keywords or add and delete).

 

I have placed the cemetery documents from the CWGC here:

There are no specific smaller cemeteries reported by the CWGC to have been concentrated into this cemetery. The SPEC-EXH folder contains exhumation documents from both the British and the French. The documents do refer to a number of exhumations from BERRY AU BAC but I don't know yet whether that was a cemetery, the community or just the primary reference for the trench map coordinates. On a number of the COG-BR sheets they refer to "Berry au Bac 290 x 221", a code that I have yet to figure out. On others they get more specific with codes such as 289-4 x 222-3.

 

The CWGC says:

Quote

Hermonville Military Cemetery originally contained, on the West side, 407 French and 99 German graves, but these were later removed.

 

The British graves are those of soldiers from the United Kingdom, mainly of the 21st Division (LLT Link), who fell in May and June 1918, and were reburied here after the Armistice.

 

There are now nearly 250, 1914-18 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over half are unidentified and special memorials are erected in Plot III, Row AA, to five Sappers of the Royal Engineers who fell on the 27th May 1918, and were buried in the German part of the cemetery, but whose graves could not be found. Six United Kingdom soldiers believed to be buried among the unnamed graves are also commemorated on special memorial headstones, located to the left of the Register Box. The Cemetery covers an area of 1,183 square metres and is enclosed (except on the roadside) by a low rubble wall.

 

The COG-BR does have a concentration cemetery reference for:

  • COG-BR 2011796: Hermonville Communal Cemetery Soissons 22 2.K.98.07 (that is correct as it is in the lower left of square 2.K, 98 across and 7 up).
    • those men have 1933 SPEC-EXH reports that led to their identification
  • COG-BR 2011829: the men in 3.A.1 to 3.A.10 had the SPEC-EXH reports prepared by the French in July 1919 from Berry au Bac 290 x 222

 

One of the primary pieces of the puzzle that was being investigated through the integration of this cemetery was the missing 2nd Lieutenant of the Northumberland Fusiliers. There are two named on the Soissons Memorial, both of the 12th/13th Northumberland Fusiliers (62nd Brigade, 21st Division). for the period 1 May 1918 to 31 July 1918. One (1) was located at the Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery (this post) so this was a search for the other. The one in this cemetery is on GRRF 2011788 and COG-BR 2011835 (Berry au Bac 214 x 283).

 

The 14th Northumberland Fusiliers were also in the area as a Pioneer Battalion in the 21st Divisional Troops. They also are missing a Second Lieutenant named on the Soissons Memorial. I have not yet looked at the details in the war diaries or the trench maps to see if they can be separated.

Edited by laughton
updating details in stages

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laughton

Those of interest in this cemetery that have to be checked to see if named, etc.:

  • COG-BR 2011816: Durham Light Infantry Officer in 1.B.4 with a Military Cross
  • COG-BR 2011818: Unknown Corporal of the Durham Light Infantry in 1.E.4
    • Corporal Ralph Gowland is on the Soissons Memorial for that period and 15th Bn as others, apparently the only one lost named or unknown
    • that seems too simple, too obvious
    • there are twelve (12) others but not from the 15th Battalion, will have to check their locations
  • COG-BR 2011833: Lincolnshire Regiment 2/Lieutenant in 3.D.1 (1st and 2nd Bn. are in 62nd Brigade, 21st Division; 8th Bn transferred out 1916)
    • only Private Beinoras of the 1st Bn is named in this cemetery
    • two (2) missing for that long period, both possible even though one is attached to 62nd TMB (so all in the same Brigade)
    • both lost 27 May 1918
    • maybe the other one is here too (nope) or in Jonchery
      • in Jonchery - Carr identified in 1.F.20 GRRF 2013817; Pippet in 1.F.21; Brock in 1.I.11 - so no unknown 2nd Lts there
  • COG-BR 2011835: this is the other 2nd Lieutenant of the Northumberland Fusiliers that brought me to this cemetery
    • as noted in the first post, we picked up another 2nd Lt missing from the 14th NF so now we have 3 missing and so 1 still unaccounted for at this time
    • all the other NF units (7 more 2nd Lts) would also need to be eliminated, although only the 3 are from this division
Edited by laughton
corrected link

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laughton

See this post under Marfaux for all the trench map coordinates for this cemetery, in both the old and new format - as the puzzle of the coordinates starts to unravel:

 

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laughton

We are progressing ..... the French maps have appeared and if I have done it correctly we are on our way!

I put the instructions in Trevor's topic: 

You can use the search engine on the site to find the map you want. In this case I just searched for Berry-au-Bac and then scrolled through the list. I see all kinds of photographs as well, so this is going to be rewarding!

The Lieutenant of the Northumberland Fusiliers in Grave 3.E.4 (COG-BR 2011835) was found at: Berry-au-Bac 214 x 283

  • Check back at the SEARCH results and there are some other maps under the title of "Berry-au-Bac" that cover different areas
    • this one on page 3 (Cote : 31 Fi 121) of the search results is labelled Berry-au-Bac and shows GUYENCOURT (X=217.1 Y=291.5) in the middle of the page but not Berry-au-Bac
    • there are two more on page 2 of the search results:
      • Cote : 31 Fi 46: https://archives.marne.fr/ark:/86869/a0113584280850DZuCZ/1/1
        • X 213 to 226 and Y 287 to 308 along with BLOCK LETTERS but not the same as the McMaster Map letters
        • GUYENCOURT appears in the lower left on this map but it does appear at the same coordinates of X=217.1 Y=291.5
        • obviously the map is a different scale - correct the one above 31 Fi 121 is 1/10000 and this one is 1/20000
        • still too far north to pick up the spot where the remains were recovered
      • Cote : 31 Fi 191: https://archives.marne.fr/ark:/86869/a011358428086Cw7Gnt/1/1
        • this is another version of the 1/20000 but for 24 October 1917
        • looks like I have to find another map further south or a 1/50000

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laughton

There is no question now that the map references for the Northumberland Fusilier Second Lieutenant in Grave 3.E.4 is incorrect. The numerical coordinates may be correct but the map reference is incorrect. I found this by logging all the corners of the main 1/20000 map sectors. The lines run on an angle, slanting slightly from right to left from top to bottom, so the grids are not all exact. The red numbers refer to the vertical grid lines and the blue to the horizontal grid lines.

 

  213 226 239  
307

Berry-au-Bac

Site : Archives départementales de la Marne

 

Brimont

Site : Archives départementales de la Marne

306

287

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

267

Jonchery-sur-Vesle

Site : Archives départementales de la Marne

 

Reims

Site : Archives départementales de la Marne

286

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

266

  211 225 238  

https://archive.cloud.cwgc.org/archive/doc/doc2011835.JPGdoc2011835.JPG

 

The top line of the COG-BR clearly says Berry-au-Bac 214 x 283 but that is impossible because those coordinates fall within the map for Jonchery-sur-Vesle. Of course, this in not the first time that the GRU, or whomever, has made the wrong map reference.

 

This error not only refers to this COG-BR document but to others in the series and perhaps others in the cemetery. For the grid references to be correct for any Berry-au-Bac entry, the first number must be greater than 211 and the second number greater than 287.

 

There are obviously cases where the numbers are reversed, which is depicted in the next example below.

 

On COG-BR 2011818 we see a set of coordinates for Berry-au-Bac 222.5 x 289.5 for graves 1.D.1 to 1.D.9. These then change to Berry-au-Bac 288 x 219, which does not fit into any of the maps. The numbers are reversed for graves 1.E.1 to 1.E.6. They do have the correct map, as the corrected first number is greater than 287. The error is continued on the next six (6) COG-BR documents and then at COG-BR 2011825 it reverts back to the correct numbering sequence but the wrong map reference - those stated as Berry-au-Bac 220 x 285 are Jonchery-sur-Vesle 220 x 285. . The error starts again at COG-BR 2011828 and corrects itself at COG-BR 2011833.

 

Starting to learn how to use the French maps was most certainly complicated by the errors in the recordings! The only solution is IGNORE what name it gives for the map and put the numbers in the correct sequence, then find it on a map.

 

The correct location of the Second Lieutenant of the Northumberland Fusiliers is revealed in that topic:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/279126-northumberland-fusiliers-may-1918-2nd-lt-collins-2nd-lt-davies-2nd-lt-jennings/

 

Specifically this post: 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/279126-northumberland-fusiliers-may-1918-2nd-lt-collins-2nd-lt-davies-2nd-lt-jennings/?do=findComment&comment=2854356

 

 

Edited by laughton
entering details in stages

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