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Layout of mixed British and German cemeteries


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Can anyone tell me if British and German graves were segregated when the dead were originally buried during WW1? For instance if a British airman was shot down over enemy-occupied Belgium and subsequently buried in a German military cemetery, would he be buried in the next available plot in the cemetery (i.e. next to a German grave) or be buried in a separate part of the cemetery that was ‘reserved’ for the enemy?

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The question could probably also easily be asked, vice versa, of burials in Allied cemeteries and in French & Belgium civilian cemeteries too, etc. in other theatres of war

I suspect there would have been some attempt at initial segregation but at the time perhaps not always that easy to do given the exigencies of war.

I might also suspect most [?] of any such possible 'problems' arising might have largely been resolved by later concentration(s), mainly into respective national military cemeteries or into civilian ones.

We await a more knowledgeable person's answer(s) I feel.

:-) M

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Hello,

 

In the case of allied casualties, the answer is simple: they were buried among the Germans. There were two reasons: in death all were considered equal and no longer enemies and it also made sure the care for all graves would be the same (one couldn't allow one "bewildered" grave in the middle of well maintained graves.

 

Jan

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
5 hours ago, AOK4 said:

In the case of allied casualties, the answer is simple: they were buried among the Germans. There were two reasons: in death all were considered equal and no longer enemies and it also made sure the care for all graves would be the same (one couldn't allow one "bewildered" grave in the middle of well maintained graves.

 

Jan - I'm going to have trouble agreeing with that. Those are statements which must be evidence supported. If you cannot provide wide-ranging proof for those claims then they can only be regarded as speculation.

Tom

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55 minutes ago, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 

Jan - I'm going to have trouble agreeing with that. Those are statements which must be evidence supported. If you cannot provide wide-ranging proof for those claims then they can only be regarded as speculation.

Tom

 

Tom,

 

I am researching German cemeteries for over 25 years now, having published several books and articles. I know what I am saying and what I am talking about when it comes to military cemeteries.

They are based on first hand archival sources.

 

Jan

 

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Are there any existing WW1 cemetery plans (i.e. pre concentration) which show the layout of a German cemetery containing British burials?

 

Jan, could you tell me the title of any book you have published which covers this specific area? I would like to buy a copy

 

cheers,

 

Guy

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
38 minutes ago, AOK4 said:

They are based on first hand archival sources.

 

Jan - Are these German (I presume just German ?) first hand archival source materials available anywhere in English ?

I have found no clear-cut policy documentation in the IWGC / TNA archives, and secondary sources and present day physical evidence would tend to indicate that burial and retention of German dead in IWGC cemeteries was not the norm.

 

We spent a considerable time researching the burial of Allied servicemen in the area of  Fremicourt Communal Cemetery German Extension for the Ernest Haxton and Bertie Jeffs case (VdK and CWGC archives), and it was noticeable that the 1916 Allied deaths were generally buried sequentially in the actual German plots, but the 1918 Allied deaths were buried separately from the German ones.

 

I'm afraid that as things stand I am going to have difficulty going along with this idea that the playing field levelled post-mortem.

Tom

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21 hours ago, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 

 

We spent a considerable time researching the burial of Allied servicemen in the area of  Fremicourt Communal Cemetery German Extension for the Ernest Haxton and Bertie Jeffs case (VdK and CWGC archives), and it was noticeable that the 1916 Allied deaths were generally buried sequentially in the actual German plots, but the 1918 Allied deaths were buried separately from the German ones.

 

 

Hello Tom,

 

I’m really interested to hear more about your research into Fremicourt German Cemetery. Have you written an article or book about this?

 

The reason for my original question is that I’m interested to find out how likely it would have been for a British soldier, originally buried in a German cemetery during WW1, to have been exhumed after the armistice and unintentionally reburied in one of the VDK cemeteries as an ‘unbekannter Deutsche Krieger’.

 

Cheers,

 

Guy

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
54 minutes ago, Guy S said:

I’m really interested to hear more about your research into Fremicourt German Cemetery. Have you written an article or book about this?

 

The reason for my original question is that I’m interested to find out how likely it would have been for a British soldier, originally buried in a German cemetery during WW1, to have been exhumed after the armistice and unintentionally reburied in one of the VDK cemeteries as an ‘unbekannter Deutsche Krieger’.

 

Hello Guy. Our research into the Allied burials by the Germans at Fremicourt was greatly assisted by our having two very good and generous native German speakers who translated for us. I also made a significant charitable donation to the VdK. The VdK Sachbearbeiterin who we corresponded with was very helpful and prompt; however the "form" of the information we were being given was a little bit "unconventional". For example the pages of the German Gräberverwaltungsoffiziere's record book which we were given had all the records relating to the burial of Germans blanked out. This was not relevant to us as the information for our two men was all we needed to see, but in conversation / correspondence with other people interested in research of the German records we heard that extracting information from VdK records can be a bit of a task. I think we fell on our feet with our case - for reasons which needn't be gone into here.

 

Two articles about the Haxton - Jeffs case have been published so far, and another is due shortly. Contact me PM for copies.

 

With regards to "... I’m interested to find out how likely it would have been for a British soldier, …" becoming an "‘unbekannter Deutsche Krieger" - the only thing I can suggest is that you would have to know which German cemetery the man was originally buried in, and then see if the VdK have a Gräberverwaltungsoffiziere's record book for that cemetery. HOWEVER - if the man was later identified as an unbekannter Deutsche Krieger, then what was he identified as in the first place ?

 

I think you have a job on your hands here !

Tom

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battle of loos

good morning,

 

it all depends on the geograhiqe situation of the cemetery (near or far from the front line).
on the Loos area, the tombs are mixed just like at St Patrick's Cemetery.


DSC_0001.JPG.6959558e44c269439369cafeec341595.JPG

 

 

3 grave :

french - german & british unknow soldier

 

DSC_0002.JPG.f0a49626507da6dc984f4e1097da692e.JPG

 

while at the British cemetery in Bethune, the German tombs are grouped and separated from the Commonwealth graves.

 

regards

 

michel
 

Edited by battle of loos
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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
11 hours ago, battle of loos said:

… 3 grave : french - german & british unknow soldier ...

 

Hello Michel - How many German burials are there in St. Patrick's ?

Tom

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battle of loos

Good evening,


if I'm not mistaken.
there is only one.

 

regards

 

michel

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall
1 hour ago, battle of loos said:

… there is only one. …

 

 

Michel - that is my recollection - and that is the weak point with your assertion on post # 11.

St Patrick's is within German lines pre 25/9/15 and is then very close to the front line right through till 1918. One German burial - that's probably telling us a lot. I'm sorry but I'm not going with this everybody was nice to everybody else post-mortem. It simply doesn't fit in with what the war diaries and British burial records tell us. There were "peculiarities" with things like (some) airmen burials, but the idea that "Tommy" wanted to be "nice" to dead Germans is simply modern day snowflake thinking. My old friend Layton A Davey (MC & Bar) wouldn't even, in his 80's and 90's, use the word "German", - Boche, Hun, Fritz. Hated them.

Tom

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On 17/07/2020 at 23:56, Guy S said:

Are there any existing WW1 cemetery plans (i.e. pre concentration) which show the layout of a German cemetery containing British burials?

 

Jan, could you tell me the title of any book you have published which covers this specific area? I would like to buy a copy

 

cheers,

 

Guy

 

Guy,

 

I am still working on some English language books about the German cemeteries in Belgium, I hope to get the first one out at some point in 2021. I'll keep you informed. My publications can be found on my website: https://vcjan.wordpress.com/bibliography-4/

I have written an online article in English with a historical overview: https://www.riha-journal.org/articles/2017/0150-0176-special-issue-war-graves/0162-vancoillie

Unless you know which graves are which, you won't be able to spot allied graves on German plans, because they didn't make the difference of the nationality of the graves on their plans.

The pic below shows the German cemetery at Moorslede (extension). The cross marks the grave of McPherson and Adams (Ox&Bucks LI)moorslede.jpg.dee735a12ca14377fcb033a5f5aedec7.jpg

 

British soldiers and German soldiers were often even buried together in the same grave, as on Geluwe cemetery in 1914 (Private D. MacKenzie, 1/Scots Guards):

 

geluwe.jpg.575adf3cc3fd0c7f2a788fd29585d466.jpg

 

Or this picture online from Langemark Nord (nowadays the German cemetery Langemark), where one can see all kinds of graves: German, French, Indian and Belgian:

https://westhoekverbeeldt.be/ontdek/detail/b4dda5f2-bbc5-11e3-9f1f-2bdb19a2a441

 

This is how the French graves were spread out all over the cemetery (the French made plans based on the German sources in 1919/20 to exhume their own war dead):

langemarknord.jpg.af37782e740075d74e0aafad6590b56b.jpg

 

 

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On 18/07/2020 at 00:00, Tom Tulloch-Marshall said:

 

Jan - Are these German (I presume just German ?) first hand archival source materials available anywhere in English ?

I have found no clear-cut policy documentation in the IWGC / TNA archives, and secondary sources and present day physical evidence would tend to indicate that burial and retention of German dead in IWGC cemeteries was not the norm.

 

We spent a considerable time researching the burial of Allied servicemen in the area of  Fremicourt Communal Cemetery German Extension for the Ernest Haxton and Bertie Jeffs case (VdK and CWGC archives), and it was noticeable that the 1916 Allied deaths were generally buried sequentially in the actual German plots, but the 1918 Allied deaths were buried separately from the German ones.

 

I'm afraid that as things stand I am going to have difficulty going along with this idea that the playing field levelled post-mortem.

Tom

 

Tom,

 

Why on earth would these sources be available in English? The Germans don't even have their sources available online.

I didn't say anything about German dead being exhumed from IWGC cemeteries, so I don't know why you say anything about that. It's the other way around. Allied dead were exhumed from German cemeteries after the war (for several reasons).

 

The Germans created plenty of joint cemeteries during the war (French/German for the battles along the border in August 1914), but also Mons Saint Symphorien to give one well known British/German example. Saint Symphorien only became an official IWGC cemetery in the 1930s because the maintenance wasn't up to British standards (again, because of several reasons, mainly neglect from the Belgian government until the Germans were back in control and a lack of German funding because of the economic crisis of 1929 and following years). I refer to the obelisk at Saint Symphorien, erected by the Germans and referring to the British as well as the different other memorials to the British on the cemetery, built by the Germans.

As the number of French casualties during the August 1914 battles was very high, the Germans even built (during the war) cemeteries with only French graves (constructed by top architects using lasting and expensive building materials). Some pics can be found in the albums Valois (on gallica). All these joint German/Allied and solely Allied cemeteries were built in 1916/17.

 

To quote from an archival source (Befehl über Kriegergräber Fürsorge, Zusatz zu A.O.K. 5 IIa Nr. 10503 v. 25.11.16. (Kr. M.V. Nr. 296/4 16 U.K.Gr. v. 28.7.16), 5.12.1916: 7B Beerdigungen Es ist Ehrenpflicht jeder Truppe nicht nur die eigenen Kameraden würdig zu bestatten, sondern auch auf die dauernde Erhaltung aller anderen Kriegergräber Bedacht zu sein.

 

An Imperial Order (Allerhöchste Kabinett-Ordre) was issued on 28 February 1917. This stated (extratcs):

[Die Kriegergräberfürsorge bezweckt]: ... 5. ihre würdige Ausschmückung und Ausstattung mit dauerhaften Grabzeichen... Sie gilt in gleicher Weise den Gräbern der eigenen, verbündeten und feindlichen Heeresangehörigen. ...

 

I think it is time to take off your British blinkers and look at the other side as well.

 

Jan

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On 18/07/2020 at 21:53, Guy S said:

The reason for my original question is that I’m interested to find out how likely it would have been for a British soldier, originally buried in a German cemetery during WW1, to have been exhumed after the armistice and unintentionally reburied in one of the VDK cemeteries as an ‘unbekannter Deutsche Krieger’.

 

This did happen, there are a lot of soldiers listed on Kipling memorials who were known to be buried in German cemeteries and the graves are now lost. There are several reasons why the graves were lost: graves destroyed in later battles, incomplete or wrong records, etc... Some of these British soldiers are now at a German cemetery.

 

I agree with Jan that the Germans buried the British soldiers together with German ones in sequential graves but there are always the exceptions in certain areas and time.

An example is Koelenberg Forest where the British soldiers were initially buried between the Germans ones but a dedicated enemy plot was created later with Commonwealth soldiers including a Russian prisoner of war.

 

On 20/07/2020 at 09:01, AOK4 said:

British soldiers and German soldiers were often even buried together in the same grave, as on Geluwe cemetery in 1914 (Private D. MacKenzie, 1/Scots Guards)

@AOK4: Everything relating to Geluwe sparks my interest but I can't find a trace of this soldier in my records and there is no candidate in the CWGC records, are you sure of this?

 

Luc.

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5 minutes ago, LDT006 said:

 

 

@AOK4: Everything relating to Geluwe sparks my interest but I can't find a trace of this soldier in my records and there is no candidate in the CWGC records, are you sure of this?

 

Luc.

 

Sorry, I was too fast, MacKenzie was buried in Menen (Civil Hospital). I was confused by the fact that the Germans were concentrated to Geluwe Mühle after the war... MacKenzie is now buried in Harelbeke XIV.C.14.

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On 20/07/2020 at 09:43, AOK4 said:

 

Tom,

 

Why on earth would these sources be available in English? The Germans don't even have their sources available online.

I didn't say anything about German dead being exhumed from IWGC cemeteries, so I don't know why you say anything about that. It's the other way around. Allied dead were exhumed from German cemeteries after the war (for several reasons).

 

The Germans created plenty of joint cemeteries during the war (French/German for the battles along the border in August 1914), but also Mons Saint Symphorien to give one well known British/German example. Saint Symphorien only became an official IWGC cemetery in the 1930s because the maintenance wasn't up to British standards (again, because of several reasons, mainly neglect from the Belgian government until the Germans were back in control and a lack of German funding because of the economic crisis of 1929 and following years). I refer to the obelisk at Saint Symphorien, erected by the Germans and referring to the British as well as the different other memorials to the British on the cemetery, built by the Germans.

As the number of French casualties during the August 1914 battles was very high, the Germans even built (during the war) cemeteries with only French graves (constructed by top architects using lasting and expensive building materials). Some pics can be found in the albums Valois (on gallica). All these joint German/Allied and solely Allied cemeteries were built in 1916/17.

 

To quote from an archival source (Befehl über Kriegergräber Fürsorge, Zusatz zu A.O.K. 5 IIa Nr. 10503 v. 25.11.16. (Kr. M.V. Nr. 296/4 16 U.K.Gr. v. 28.7.16), 5.12.1916: 7B Beerdigungen Es ist Ehrenpflicht jeder Truppe nicht nur die eigenen Kameraden würdig zu bestatten, sondern auch auf die dauernde Erhaltung aller anderen Kriegergräber Bedacht zu sein.

 

An Imperial Order (Allerhöchste Kabinett-Ordre) was issued on 28 February 1917. This stated (extratcs):

[Die Kriegergräberfürsorge bezweckt]: ... 5. ihre würdige Ausschmückung und Ausstattung mit dauerhaften Grabzeichen... Sie gilt in gleicher Weise den Gräbern der eigenen, verbündeten und feindlichen Heeresangehörigen. ...

 

I think it is time to take off your British blinkers and look at the other side as well.

 

Jan

 

 

I also have an advise to Tom:

I follow your postings over the many years of GWF's existence. When it comes to German subject matters, you tend to lay a bloodspur of hate and nationalistic narrow-minded point of views (last other example was the Menin Gate thread). According to the principle "what I do not want to accept, I cannot accept"

It would be much more helpful for your health and the esprit de corps here if you accept other than your own nationalistic facts. I.e. other than English language archive sources or first and second hand accounts. I understand that you are unconvinceable and too biased to accept any acts of humanity that occurred on German cemeteries both, by Imperial order and by individual beliefs. I finish my observation with one of my collection's images on mixed graves on a German 1915 cemetery

118543437_62FreundundFeindvereint.jpg.f1425d7b8ba302c567b9c6250c9fb341.jpg

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Tom Tulloch-Marshall

An interesting cemetery - Ligny-St-Flochel British Cemetery - German graves at >

 

382653416_gwfligny-stflochelbritishcemeterydf(10)-Copy.JPG.e022c35f469d6a0891a9cee337bf239a.JPG

 

The German burials area isn't even shown on the IWGC / CWGC plan for the cemetery - that tells a story.

Tom

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