Trees on the western outskirts of Ploegsteert Wood loom above the Cross of Sacrifice at Strand Military Cemetery.
Strand Military Cemetery is situated at what was once the main western entrance to Ploegsteert Wood. Referred to by the troops as Charing Cross, this was the site of an Advanced Dressing Station and is where the Strand communication trench, which we encountered during our visit to the three cemeteries within the wood, began. The bunkers we saw on our way here from the Ploegsteert Memorial are out of shot to the left; the hedge stretching from the centre to the right of the picture surrounds the northern boundary of the cemetery.
Although a few burials were made here in October 1914, the cemetery was not used again until April 1917. Plots I to VI were made between April and July 1917, the remaining Plots being added after the Armistice. This view, from the north west corner of the cemetery looking south, shows these later Plots, with Plot VII nearest the camera. The CWGC cemetery plan can be seen here:
Three headstones (also visible in the second row in the previous picture) in Plot VII of men “Buried near this spot”. Left to right:
|PRIVATE W. HODSON||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||25||10/04/1918||VII Q 3|
|PRIVATE G. HOLLEY||WILTSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||12/04/1918||VII Q 4|
|CORPORAL R. HACKER||WILTSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||12/04/1918||VII Q 5|
A British Lance Corporal of the Great War.
Panoramic view from the eastern boundary of the cemetery, looking west towards the Cross of Sacrifice in the distance (Strand Military Cemetery is T-shaped, with the Cross at the bottom of the T).
Turning to our right, this view looks north, with Plot IV in the foreground. Beyond are Plots III, II, and in the distance, surprise surprise, Plot I.
Plot II and beyond, Plot I. We are now within the hedged area visible in the earlier photo showing where the Strand communication trench once began.
Above left: Plot I. The lone grave nearest the camera is that of:
|LIEUTENANT N. B. F. RUTLEDGE||AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY||32||03/06/1917||I F 1|
Above right: Looking south along the plots lining the eastern boundary, with Plot I nearest the camera. The Stone of Remembrance can just be seen in the far distance to the left of the tree.
Just eight of the more than 1100 graves here are Second World War burials, all men who fell during the Allied retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940. The four above (one headstone has been removed for renovation) are, left to right:
|LIEUTENANT H. SHAW BA||THE NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||32||28/05/1940||IV G 9|
|SERJEANT C. A. S. HOLDEN||CORPS OF MILITARY POLICE||u/k||26/05/1940||IV G 10|
|LANCE CORPORAL O. P. EVANS||ROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS||19||27/05/1940||IV G 11|
|PRIVATE A. BACON||THE HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY||27||28/05/1940||IV G 12|
View from Plot X, looking towards the Stone of Remembrance and the south east corner of the cemetery beyond.
Special memorials to five Australians, all killed on the 7th June 1917 (a by now familiar date on this tour), and a New Zealander killed a few days later, beneath the hedge at the southern end of the cemetery. The two headstones to the left are German.
Taken from the same spot as the previous photograph, looking east at Plot VI. The two headstones nearest the camera are both German.
View looking north showing the whole of the eastern side of the cemetery, with the final row of the post-war additions stretching across the picture. The original cemetery comprises all the headstones visible beyond the Stone of Remembrance. Wait a minute! It’s him again, isn’t it? I could have sworn he wasn’t there a minute ago. How does he do that?
Taken from roughly where Balders appeared in the previous shot, we are now looking west across the headstones of Plot X towards the Cross.
Headstones in Plot X. Left to right:
|LANCE CORPORAL G. MOORE||WILTSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||10/04/1918||X C 3|
|SECOND LIEUTENANT C. W. SOMERVILLE||ROYAL AIR FORCE||u/k||24/08/1918||X C 4|
|SECOND LIEUTENANT T. McCARTHY||ROYAL AIR FORCE||u/k||24/08/1918||X C 5|
Canadians killed in 1915, British and New Zealanders killed in 1917. There are three Somervilles buried in Strand Military Cemetery, none of whom, as far as a cursory investigation suggests, are related. Left to right:
|PRIVATE F. W. HEATHER||14th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRY||u/k||15/07/1915||IX I 5|
|PRIVATE E. JOLICOEUR||13th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRY||u/k||15/07/1915||IX I 6|
|SECOND LIEUTENANT J. E. POWER CLUTTERBUCK||ROYAL FLYING CORPS||23||25/06/1917||IX I 7|
|RIFLEMAN W. HORSPOOL||NEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE||23||24/06/1917||IX I 8|
|RIFLEMAN J. SOMERVILLE MM||NEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE||24||24/06/1917||IX I 9|
|RIFLEMAN H. DANZEY||NEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE||22||23/06/1917||IX I 10|
354 of the burials here are unidentified.
More unknown burials in Plot IX flank a Captain of the Black Watch and veteran of the Boer War.
|CAPTAIN A. E. PARKER||THE BLACK WATCH||34||07/11/1914||IX O 3|
Two Irish Fusiliers, killed on the same day in November 1914 and brought to Strand Military Cemetery for reburial after the war. Left to right:
|PRIVATE T. CORDNER||ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS||u/k||09/11/1914||IX N 4|
|PRIVATE S. TAYLOR||ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERS||u/k||09/11/1914||IX N 5|
The metal plaque (a replacement for the original) at the base of Private Cordner’s headstone says that “he died trying to save his wounded friend and his memory was cherished by his sister Christina until she died in 1993. A good name is better than fame or riches”.
More headstones in Plot IX Row N. The two nearest the camera in the front row (Private Cordner is fourth from left, after the unidentified burial) are, left to right:
|LANCE CORPORAL E. SARGEANT||EAST LANCASHIRE REGIMENT||26||30/10/1914||IX N 1|
|PRIVATE F. C. HOW||9th (QUEEN'S ROYAL) LANCERS||24||21/10/1914||IX N 2|
View looking east down the length of Plot X. All the headstones visible in this picture are post-Armistice burials.
Looking north east from near one of the two cemetery entrances, Plot X nearest the camera, Plot IX beyond the tree to the left.
Back at the Cross of Sacrifice, with the road to Messines (via Hyde Park Corner) on our left, the first rows of the post-war cemetery to our right, and more special memorials beneath the cemetery wall.
Eleven of the fourteen headstones along the wall commemorate men known to be originally buried in Ploegsteert Wood New Cemetery, but whose graves, indeed the cemetery itself, were destroyed in later battles. The headstones on either side of the centre memorial commemorate, left to right:
|PRIVATE R. MILLER||ESSEX REGIMENT||25||21/10/1914||P.W.N.C.Mem.|
|LIEUTENANT J. VANCE||ESSEX REGIMENT||28||21/10/1914||P.W.N.C.Mem.|
The first headstones in the row, all “To the memory of”, are of three men who were also buried elsewhere and whose graves were later lost. Unusually, the headstones themselves are inscribed with the details of their original burials (click to enlarge, of course, and also to make more sense of the memorial references in the table below). Left to right:
|PRIVATE J. McDOWALL||NEW ZEALAND CANTERBURY REGIMENT||23||16/08/1917||La. B.-V. German Cem Warneton Mem.|
|PRIVATE J. GRAHAM||MANCHESTER REGIMENT||30||14/12/1914||Warneton Chyd Spec Mem.|
|PRIVATE F. BAMFORD||ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT||u/k||04/04/1915||Le Bizet Convent Mem.|
Finally, we head back to the cemetery entrance at the end of the wall…
… past this small structure enclosing the inscriptions guaranteeing this land as a perpetual resting place…
…and take our leave of Strand Military Cemetery, as we continue our journey south along the western edge of the wood. Next stop is Ploegsteert Village, just half a mile down the road, where we will visit the nine British graves in the churchyard, and pay our respects at the war memorial in the centre of the village.