A Tour of Ploegsteert Wood Part Eight – Strand Military Cemetery

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:

Strand Military Cemetery Plan

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. HODSONSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT2510/04/1918VII Q 3
PRIVATE G. HOLLEYWILTSHIRE REGIMENT u/k12/04/1918VII Q 4
CORPORAL R. HACKERWILTSHIRE REGIMENT u/k12/04/1918VII 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. RUTLEDGEAUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY3203/06/1917I 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 BATHE NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT3228/05/1940IV G 9
SERJEANT C. A. S. HOLDENCORPS OF MILITARY POLICEu/k26/05/1940IV G 10
LANCE CORPORAL O. P. EVANSROYAL CORPS OF SIGNALS1927/05/1940IV G 11
PRIVATE A. BACONTHE HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY2728/05/1940IV 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. MOOREWILTSHIRE REGIMENTu/k10/04/1918X C 3
SECOND LIEUTENANT C. W. SOMERVILLEROYAL AIR FORCEu/k24/08/1918X C 4
SECOND LIEUTENANT T. McCARTHYROYAL AIR FORCEu/k24/08/1918X 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. HEATHER14th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRYu/k15/07/1915IX I 5
PRIVATE E. JOLICOEUR13th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRYu/k15/07/1915IX I 6
SECOND LIEUTENANT J. E. POWER CLUTTERBUCKROYAL FLYING CORPS2325/06/1917IX I 7
RIFLEMAN W. HORSPOOLNEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE2324/06/1917IX I 8
RIFLEMAN J. SOMERVILLE MMNEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE2424/06/1917IX I 9
RIFLEMAN H. DANZEYNEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE2223/06/1917IX 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. PARKERTHE BLACK WATCH3407/11/1914IX 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. CORDNERROYAL IRISH FUSILIERSu/k09/11/1914IX N 4
PRIVATE S. TAYLORROYAL IRISH FUSILIERSu/k09/11/1914IX 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. SARGEANTEAST LANCASHIRE REGIMENT2630/10/1914IX N 1
PRIVATE F. C. HOW9th (QUEEN'S ROYAL) LANCERS2421/10/1914IX 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 REGIMENT2521/10/1914P.W.N.C.Mem.
LIEUTENANT J. VANCEESSEX REGIMENT2821/10/1914P.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. McDOWALLNEW ZEALAND CANTERBURY REGIMENT2316/08/1917La. B.-V. German Cem Warneton Mem.
PRIVATE J. GRAHAMMANCHESTER REGIMENT3014/12/1914Warneton Chyd Spec Mem.
PRIVATE F. BAMFORDROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENTu/k04/04/1915Le 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.

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10 Responses to A Tour of Ploegsteert Wood Part Eight – Strand Military Cemetery

  1. Chris Gadsby says:

    Thanks you for the tour.
    My great grandfather A Gadsby is buried in Strand Military Cemetery Plot: IX. L. 6.

    My son and I have been researching his life and death in WW1 and this was a great way to visit the site.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Chris, I’m really pleased that you enjoyed the Strand tour (quite a few of the photos have only recently been added so your timing is excellent) and that you and your son can now visualise where your great grandfather now rests. I am only sorry that there isn’t a photo of his headstone, particularly as a couple of the pictures I took are in the row directly behind Row L. Next time I’m passing…..

  2. Claude says:

    Very nice site, very good pictures, I will come back soon.

  3. Magicfingers says:

    Aha! Claude! Welcome to my little site. I’m glad you like the photos (do check out the ‘Dusk at the Ploegsteert Memorial’ post when you get the time), and I much appreciate your comments on the family Rosenberg and also the information tablets; I shall have to check whether I have erroneously credited them to the CWGC.

    Having heard your name mentioned whilst on my travels I did wonder, when I noticed that a ‘Claude’ had posted three comments on the ‘Tour of Ploegsteert Wood’, whether it was indeed Claude of L’Auberge, so I am delighted that you approve of my site. Do come back when you get the chance and have a further look around.

  4. Marilyne Mingou says:

    good day,

    Is there a special reason for Lt Rutledge’s grave to be isolated from the others?? It seems strange.

    Regards,

    Marilyne Mingou

    • Magicfingers says:

      Honestly Marilyne, I don’t know the answer, but it is not that uncommon. You will find more examples in some of the recent posts. The only clue I can suggest in this case is that he was an Australian artilleryman, and the nearest graves to his are all Australian infantrymen. Perhaps somewhere therein lies the answer, but we shall never know.

  5. Jane Roberts says:

    Just been looking at your website with interest as I have recently been given a copy of the diary of my Great Uncle who is buried here. Gunner George Ernest Williamson, Royal Garrison Artillery. He died aged 24 on 12th Nov 1914. His diary began on 17th September, with the last entry on 3rd November. The last entry refers to moving guns to Ploegsteert, being under fire on the lawn of a doctors house and big shells landing in the trenches burying 12 men alive that day. I am guessing he was fatally injured shortly after the 3rd in the village or nearby as his daily account abruptly ends on the 3rd, or possibly his death was not recorded for a few days…
    Thank you anyway for the pictures of the cemetery and area where he fought and died.

  6. Dawn Healey says:

    My GG Uncle is buried at the strand cemetry so it was wonderful to find your site with these photos. My brother & I are heading over to europe in June we want to go & pay our respect to our uncle but Im having trouble figuring out how to get to the cemetry & I was wondering if you could help me with any information please.We also have a G uncle who died in WW2 & he is buried in El Alamien Egypt so we will be going there as well. Once again thank you for these pictures it gives me a much better idea of were my GG Uncle is laid to rest.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello Dawn. First of all I wish you well with your trip in June. I am most envious of your intended visit to El Alamein. Tha will be fascinating. I’m glad you like the above post, and thank you for your kind comments. I have visited Strand Military Cemetery a couple of times – Ploegsteert was the first area of Flanders I explored in detail, a few years back now, but I always like returning there. Ploegsteert Wood is about 10 miles due south of Ieper, three-quarters of the way to Armentières. If nothing else there must be a bus that will take you to Ploegsteert from Ieper. Best thing to do is check with the Ieper Tourist Office. And give yourself a bit of time if you can, as the Ploegsteert Memorial, just up the road from Strand, is a must-see. You’ll find some photos where you will see what I mean elsewhere on this site.

      Have a fabulous trip. Come back and tell us all about it.

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