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Remembered Today:

Leeds Pal buried Belgium


Chris Noble
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Hi.

As some of the Pals know, i am compiling a series of lists of casualties sustained by the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on the Western Front. Currently, my research has centered on the action at Gavrelle 3rd May, 1917.

As the list is nearing completion, i have come across this pal, Private John Edward Mitchell 32906. Born Halifax. Enlisted, Leeds. Buried, Strand Military Cemetery, Commines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

How come?

On compiling the list, i can understand the remains of fallen Pals being buried in places such as Cabaret Rouge, Souchez, and Canadian Cemetery Number 2 at Vimy, but this does seem to be a considerable distance away from the action at Gavrelle? Was this cemetery 'opened' for later burials such as, for example, Terlincthun British Cemetery Wimille?

Any thoughts Pals would be much appreciated.

Regards, Chris.

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Hi Chris,

I can't help you with Pte. Mitchell, I'm afraid, or why he should have been buried at such a distance from the action, but I'm looking through 'Silent Cities', and this is what Sidney Hurst has to say regarding the cemetery:

"STRAND MILITARY CEMTERY, PLOEGSTEERT WOOD [WEST FLANDERS]. Close to French Border, 4 miles N. of Armentiers Sta., on Ypres Road, S. of Ploegsteert Wood. The Cem. was established near Strand Trench in October 1914. Records 659 UK., 284 Aust., 77 N.Z., 15 Can., 1 S.A., 4 German burial, and 19 special memorials." [p. 74]

I hope that this is of some use, and that other Pals might be able to fill in any other details. Good Luck with the research, I'm looking forward to seeing the end result.

Regards,

Dave

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Chris,

Puzzling indeed.

And I'm afraid I have no idea ...

Strand Cem. is 42 km north of Gavrelle.

Strand Cem. has 1142 (or so) graves. A number of them come from 8 cemeteries in the area. Apart from 1 they all are close by (Warneton), the farthest being Houplines, but even that one is only 4 km from Strand Cemetery.

However, adding all these men from these 8 cemetries gives 219. "Only" 219. And I know that post Armistice over 750 graves were concentrated in Strand Cemetery. So approx. 750 minus 219 = approx. 531 must come from other cemeteries than the 8 I have the locatioons of.

Where were these cemeteries ? No idea. And I guess there is no way to find out. But somehow doubt if some would have come from as far as Gavrelle near Arras, more than 40 km away.

Does this "help" ? :(

Aurel

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Hi.

As some of the Pals know, i am compiling a series of lists of casualties sustained by the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on the Western Front. Currently, my research has centered on the action at Gavrelle 3rd May, 1917.

Chris

Have you any info on a Pte Guy Naylor 38434 he was KIA Gavrelle 3rd May 1917 He was from Bedford Street Cleckheaton.

Regards

Ady

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Chris,

I see that on 3 May 1917 158 men and 10 (?) officers of 15/WYR died .

Have you found out where they all were buried (if they were) ?

If John Edward Mitchell appears to be the only one who was buried 40 km north, then this is very suspicious of course.

Aurel

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Hi Ady.

I sent you a PM as regards Abbot, as regards Naylor, i will have a look. I keep adding information to the list as i aquire it and it has turned out to be a veritable 'Frankenstein'!

Hi Aurel.

In a nutshell, most of the casualties sustained by the battalion at Gavrelle have no known grave, and, as you are aware, are commemorated on the memorial to the missing at Arras.

The majority of casualties that have a known grave Aurel, are buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleuex-En-Gohelle, i suspect that, calculating the ratio etc. of 'Known Unto God' soldiers, a vast majority of the battalion lie there also.

I concur Aurel also, that Mitchells burial at Strand Military Cemetery seems a bit unusual, but if i am not mistaken, does occur. A local cemetery to that area of Arras springs to mind;

To quote from BattleGround Europe series of books, which, are not consice but give one an insight;

Gavrelle, Tallett and Tasker;

Bailleul Road East Cemetery;

"The concentrated graves which have come from the furthest distance are three unknowns from Gommecourt, and even an unknown from the Warwickshire Regiment (IV.C4), who was buried at 57cX21 d 95.80, which is Pigeon Ravine, near Epehy, 40 Kilometres away to the south west".

If this is accurate information, i am not in a position to say.

Does seem strange though i agree Aurel, for a Leeds Pal to be buried that far away.

Many thanks for your input Gentlemen.

Kindest regards, Chris.

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Bailleul Road East Cemetery;

"The concentrated graves which have come from the furthest distance are three unknowns from Gommecourt, and even an unknown from the Warwickshire Regiment (IV.C4), who was buried at 57cX21 d 95.80, which is Pigeon Ravine, near Epehy, 40 Kilometres away to the south west".

If this is accurate information, i am not in a position to say.

Does seem strange though i agree Aurel, for a Leeds Pal to be buried that far away.

Many thanks for your input Gentlemen.

Kindest regards, Chris.

Yes, I guess we have to accept the fact that Mitchell indeed was re-buried more than 40 km from where he was originally buried. True, this appears to have happened. (Yet, I have always found these cases suspicious.)

Something that might offer some enlightenment : who are Mitchell's "neighbours" at Strand Cemetery ? (I mean VIII.B.7 and 9.) Do these men too come from far away ? (But it's not easy to wade throught he Strand Cemetery Reports on line in order to find that...)

An easier way is ... to go there and find out. ;) (I would do it myself, but as I live north of Ypres, Strand Cem. near Ploegsteert is a bit far away, and an area where I seldom come.)

Also : is it possible that somehow Mitchell's remains were found a long time after WW1, and that at the time Strand Cemetery was one of the open cemeteries for these isolated finds and exhumations ? But this is only a wild guess.

Aurel

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Hi Aurel.

I have also thought that it could possibly be an 'open' cemetery.

As regards further burials in the cemetery, i believe they are akin to the area.

Regards, Chris.

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Chris,

By the way, I just happen to see in Michael Scott, The Ypres Salient (maybe also in CWGC register on line) :

"Those who were concentrated here were mainly from the area between Wijtschate and Armentières."

But of course, "mainly" does not mean : "exclusively"...

Aurel

ADDED 3 minutes later :

From the register on line :

Plots VII to X were made after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from some small cemeteries and from the battlefields lying mainly between Wytschaete and Armentieres.

And Mitchell was buried in Plot VIII.

But he may have been an exception of course, coming from a greater distance.

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Chris,

OK. Next time I am in the area (don't know when though) I'll have a look at the dates (and regiments) in that row and plot.

Aurel

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Many Men KIA,were not found until well after the war had finished,it was CWWGC policy then to Inter them in a cemetery that had just been completed,or was designated to accept these finds,a good example is of 01.07.16 Tyne Side Scottish KIAs being buried in Cabaret Rouge Cem,when they had been KIA around the La Boiselle Area on the Somme.The CWWGC seem to have relaxed this policy and as we know,they attempt to bury the casualty near where they were found.My Uncle Jack was not discovered until 1923,along with other men of his Battalion in Queens Trench in High Wood..at the time Caterpillar Valley Cemetery was being Constructed,so he ended up in there,instead of London Cemetery Extension,which contains burials from early 1914 onwards.

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Hi Chris,

Sorry about hi-jacking the thread, but I was intrigued by the photo which PBI posted regarding the 'Memorial Register'. Where is it kept exactly; is it accessible; and what information does it contain--apart from the obvious, I suppose?

Would it reveal any info surrounding your man?

Many Thanks,

Dave

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The Memorial Register photo is of a standard Register Holder which exists in All CWWGC Cemeterys,and contains details of Casualtys Buried in that particular Cemetery or Memorial. :D

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Chris,

Allow me to hijack your thread too. Well, not really hijacking, for it's related to the same puzzle, but in general.

I was attracted by it because in a different thread, one I am involved too, there is a similar problem. (A man buried near Ypres, fallen on a day his unit was far away in France (Ervillers))

So I would like to ask all viewers of this thread : do they have knowledge of other cases in which men they made research on were buried (too) far away from where they should have been ?

Aurel

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London Cemetery Extension,Somme,Contains burials of Men KIA early 1914 whose units were nowhere near the Somme area,plus there are a number of Burials of men from WW2 who were KIA in Germany and Holland in 1944,these Burials are directly behind the Cross of Sacrifice.Another fact that has always niggled me is of a Merchant Seaman buried in Suffolk Cemetery in Belgium...any explanations for this anomaly ??

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.Another fact that has always niggled me is of a Merchant Seaman buried in Suffolk Cemetery in Belgium...any explanations for this anomaly ??

PBI,

I've just gone through the Cemetery Reports of Suffolk Cemetery, hoping to find more about him. But since I can't find him, he must be one of the (8) Unknowns ?

That may be even more surprising ...

Strange.

Aurel

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Sorry Aurel,yes He is Just listed as an unknown Merchant Seaman..how did the burial people know this ?? :o

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Chris,

This afternoon I was at Strand Mil. Cemetery.

I did not really see anything special at the neighbouring headstones, nothing that could cast a light on the "mystery".

The one to the left of Mitchell is an Unknown.

The one to the right an Unknown Hampshire Regiment.

The other men in the row are Sept. 1918. Too far away in time from Mitchell 3 May 1917 I'm afraid.

I also took a photo of the headstone.

Should you be interested, let me know.

Aurel

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Aurel.

Many many thanks, much appreciated.

If you would be so kind to send me the photograph.

If anything else transpires in my research on this soldier, i will post.

Kindest regards to you Aurel. Thanks for taking the time.

Chris.

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Chris,

Could you let me know your email address please (off Forum). I have 3 photos (full headstone, top half and with the two "neighbours", the Unknowns). Each 400 - 500 kB, and I'd rather send them in the full resolution, instead of posting them here in the resized version.

But don't hurry, for I won't send them tonight. Off to bed now. Almost 1 pm Belgian time ! :blink:

Aurel

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Railway Dug outs Cem.17.08.06

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