Apart from a few months during 1918, Ploegsteert Village remained behind the Allied lines throughout the First World War, troops moving up through the village towards the front lines to the north and east of Ploegsteert Wood. Unsurprisingly, German artillery frequently targeted the crossroads in the centre of Ploegsteert, although the village never suffered quite the devastation that some others further east were subjected to.
In the centre of the village, this war memorial commemorates both military and civilian dead of both World Wars.
The names of the First World War military casualties are inscribed on the left hand panels, those of civilians are on the right; the Second World War casualties are remembered on the end panels on either side, including names of members of the resistance and political deportees (far left panel). You will also note the numerous bullet holes that pepper the memorial, reminders of the fighting that took place in this area during the retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940.
Outside the mairie, or town hall, a CWGC information board tells us a little about Winston Churchill’s appointment as Commanding Officer (following his resignation from the Government in November 1915 after the Gallipoli debacle) of the 6th Royal Scots, and his posting to Ploegsteert in early 1916. A plaque on the wall (see below) also commemorates Churchill’s sojourn at Ploegsteert. The entrance to the churchyard, where we shall be heading in just a minute, is to the left of the picture.
Close-up of the Churchill plaque.
As we enter the churchyard, the CWGC graves are all situated in a small hedged plot towards the southern boundary (centre background).
The nine burials here were all made between October 1914 and February 1915.
Ploegsteert village church, with the British graves in the foreground.
|SECOND LIEUTENANT R. J. LUMLEY||11th (PRINCE ALBERT'S OWN) HUSSARS||20||17/10/1914||A 1|
|LIEUTENANT W. D. M. TRIMMER||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||22||30/10/1914||A 2|
|CAPTAIN R. W. HARLAND||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||31||30/10/1914||A 3|
|CAPTAIN E. J. W. DOLPHIN||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||28||07/11/1914||A 4|
|PRIVATE C. E. HORNE||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||22||18/11/1914||A 5|
|MAJOR G.H. PARKER||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||44||19/12/1914||A 6|
|CAPTAIN A. P. KNOCKER||HAMPSHIRE REGIMENT||25||08/02/1915||A 7|
|LIEUTENANT H. B. BOGGS||CANADIAN INFANTRY (BRITISH COLUMBIA REGIMENT)||22||26/02/1915||A 8|
|PRIVATE T. SUTTON||CANADIAN INFANTRY (BRITISH COLUMBIA REGIMENT)||22||26/02/1915||A 9|
Baldrick strides purposefully in search of, from what I remember, the grave of the Belgian cyclist Frank Vandenbroucke, who is also buried here in Ploegsteert churchyard.
Anyway, time to leave Ploegsteert Village and head east, following the road along the southern border of Ploegsteert Wood towards our next stop: Lancashire Cottage Cemetery. Actually, before we do that, I’ve had a thought. There’s a small cemetery a few minutes drive west of here that we are perhaps unlikely to visit unless we do so now. Men who were wounded in and around Ploegsteert Wood were attended to at the A.D.S. there, and the cemetery contains burials of many soldiers who sadly got no further. It’s name is Maple Leaf Cemetery and if you wish to visit, click the link! Easy.