Ypres (Ieper) – The Lille Gate & Ramparts Cemetery (Lille Gate)

The Lille Gate, southern entrance to the city of Ypres.  Note the CWGC signpost to right of the picture pointing the way to Ramparts Cemetery (Lille Gate), and the IWGC (all will be explained) signs beneath the Gate itself (see below).

Lille Gate

Just to the west of the Lille Gate, Ramparts Cemetery is reflected in the now peaceful waters of the moat.  The Cross of Sacrifice is just visible through the trees to the right of the photograph (and in the photo below).

So, the explanation.  Beneath the arch of the Gate, old-style Imperial War Graves Commission signs point the way to the cemeteries to the immediate south of Ypres.  These are not the original signs*, but when the CWGC decided the old ones needed replacing a few years back, they chose to do so using the old IWGC style, and jolly good job too, I say.  We shall, of course, visit all these cemeteries at a later date.

*actually, if you compare photos of the old and new signs, they appear to be so similar (except in condition) that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that the CWGC had managed to renovate the old ones, rather than make entirely new ones.  Anyone out there know?

View from inside the Lille Gate.  The IWGC cemetery signs can be seen in the centre, and just to their left, although not visible in the photograph, is a memorial plaque (see below) for which Baldrick can doubtless offer a translation.

Lille Gate

Lille Gate

Ramparts Cemetery (Lille Gate) is just a short walk from here up to the top of the ramparts, so it’s time we paid it a visit.

Lille Gate

Ramparts Cemetery entrance.

Surely one of the prettiest cemeteries in the Salient, Ramparts Cemetery was begun by the French in November 1914, and now contains 198 British graves from between February 1915 and April 1918, the French graves having been later removed.

Thanks to the CWGC, you can check out the cemetery plan below. It is worth remembering that these cemetery plans were all drawn a long time ago, and occasionally are not entirely accurate (compare the fourth photo below with the plan and you’ll see what I mean).  Makes it damned tricky at times when you are trying to annotate photographs, I can tell you.

Ramparts Cemetery Plan

You will probably have noticed that young Baldrick* has nonchalantly snuck his way into this otherwise beautiful photograph of flowers in bloom between the headstones and trees reflected in the still waters of the moat, but as he has brought the delightful Mrs. B with him, we shall forgive him on this occasion.

*You haven’t met Baldrick?  May I point you in the direction of the ‘Tour of Ploegsteert Wood’ elsewhere on this site.

View from Row J looking east towards the Cross of Sacrifice.  The headstone in the foreground is that of:

LANCE CORPORAL F. W. MAWSONAUSTRALIAN ENGINEERSu/k09/11/1917J 24

Those to the right in the front row are all Royal Engineers.

There are numerous different regiments represented in Ramparts Cemetery.  These men in Row H (the second row in the previous picture), all killed on the same August day in 1915, are, right (closest to the camera) to left:

PRIVATE D. DONNELLYWEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT (PRINCE OF WALES’S OWN)2709/08/1915H 8
BANDSMAN L. REDMANTHE BUFFS (EAST KENT REGIMENT)2109/08/1915H 7
CORPORAL W. G. RYANROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS 3109/08/1915H 7
GUNNER A. GOODFELLOWROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY2309/08/1915H 7
SAPPER F. R. VINER ROYAL ENGINEERS2209/08/1915H 7
PRIVATE G. F. SMITHYORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT 3409/08/1915H 7
PRIVATE J. CONNOR YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT u/k09/08/1915H 7
PRIVATE N. ARMSTRONGYORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT 3309/08/1915H 7
PRIVATE F. J. MAYHEADYORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT u/k09/08/1915H 7

View from near the western edge of the cemetery looking east towards the Cross of Sacrifice.  The headstones in Row J in the foreground are, left to right:

PRIVATE W. BATEMANCHESTER REGIMENT1930/06/1917J 7
PRIVATE W. H. THOMPSONWILTSHIRE REGIMENT1902/06/1917J 8
PRIVATE A. G. BURBIDGEWILTSHIRE REGIMENT2002/06/1917J 9
LANCE CORPORAL P. A. WARMANWILTSHIRE REGIMENT1902/06/1917J 10
PRIVATE F. H. SPACKMANWILTSHIRE REGIMENT1902/06/1917J 11
SAPPER M. P. GIFFCANADIAN ENGINEERSu/k03/06/1917J 12
SAPPER E. KUNNOS CANADIAN ENGINEERSu/k29/06/1917J 13

Above and below: At the far western edge of the cemetery are stone tablets, inscribed with the words that are to be found somewhere in every CWGC cemetery in Belgium:

“The land on which this cemetery stands is the free gift of the Belgian people for the perpetual resting place of those of the allied armies who fell in the war of 1914 – 1918 and are honoured here”.

         

CWGC plaque giving a brief outline of the war on the western front and some statistics about the cemetery.

Six New Zealanders, about as far away from home as you can get.

South-easterly view across the cemetery.  Beyond the eight touching headstones in Row H in the right background (details of which you will find in a previous photo), you can just make out the bridge across the moat leading to the Lille Gate, from where the first few photos of this section were taken.

There are only ten unknown graves in the cemetery, four of which are pictured here.  The headstones at either end of the row are, to the left:

CAPTAIN W. C. K. MEGAW MCNORFOLK REGIMENT2931/03/1915D 29

To the right:

PRIVATE P. E. TIDDY CHESHIRE REGIMENT2917/04/1915D 34

Headstones at the eastern end of the cemetery.  Front row, left to right:

LIEUTENANT R. M. FERNIE ROYAL ENGINEERS2516/08/1915I 1
2nd LIEUTENANT A. R. GRIFFITHSROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY2209/08/1915I 2
PRIVATE G. LEATHERLAND SHERWOOD FORESTERS (NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT)u/k20/06/1917I 3
LIEUTENANT W. G. F. WELCHROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY2430/10/1914I 4

Front row, left to right:

LANCE CORPORAL C. GILIGAN DUKE OF WELLINGTON’S (WEST RIDING REGIMENT)u/k07/04/1915H 15
CORPORAL S. O. GAMBLEROYAL ENGINEERS3130/04/1915H 16

Try to imagine what this view would have been like some time in 1917.

Nine Royal Engineers headstones near the cemetery entrance, left to right:

SAPPER T. GRAHAM ROYAL ENGINEERSu/k11/02/1915C 20
SAPPER A. CAMPBELLROYAL ENGINEERSu/k18/02/1915C 21
DRIVER J. WILSONROYAL ENGINEERS1911/02/1915C 22
DRIVER A. H. LUKE ROYAL ENGINEERS1811/02/1915C 23
COMPANY QUARTERMASTER SERJEANT J. H. CURTISROYAL ENGINEERS3312/02/1915C 24
SERJEANT L. A. WOODSROYAL ENGINEERS3307/03/1915C 25
2nd LIEUTENANT R. E. WHITE ROYAL ENGINEERS2405/03/1915C 26
SAPPER G. B. BONEROYAL ENGINEERSu/k13/02/1915C 27
SAPPER S. LANDERS ROYAL ENGINEERS2016/03/1915C 28

Final view of the Cross of Sacrifice as we leave Ramparts Cemetery.

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28 Responses to Ypres (Ieper) – The Lille Gate & Ramparts Cemetery (Lille Gate)

  1. Jennifer South says:

    Do you have a picture of the grave site for a Gunner John Lancaster Norman in the 2nd Australian Division – Killed in action on the 29th October 1917.

    • Magicfingers says:

      I’m afraid that I don’t. As far as I can work it out, his headstone isn’t visible in any of my photos, which is a shame, and rather unlucky really. Sorry I can’t help, but next time I’m there I shall certainly remember to photograph that part of the cemetery.

    • Louise nee Hood says:

      Only 3 years after the fact…but just found this website . I have found another website which has a pic of JL Normans grave. It is actually in a group of 3 – one of which is my great uncle Donald Hood. They were killed by a shell at the same time. If you haven’t been able to find a pic in the last 3 years let me know! Are you a relation?

  2. John Stanyard says:

    One of our favourite spots in Ypres. Stunning pictures that capture the atmosphere of a beautiful place.
    We’re so impressed with your website. Thank you for all your hard work!

    • Magicfingers says:

      John, you are most kind. I am chuffed by your comments. I shall continue to do my best. Btw, if you click the ‘notify me of posts’ box at the bottom of this page you will be informed whenever I upload new posts. If you want to be, that is!

  3. Brendan Vaughan says:

    Thank you for hosting this site. I visited this cemetery by complete chance in April, the week prior to our Anzac day. I walked the neat rows of crosses I found near the Lille Gate, starting on the back row first. The dates that these soldiers died were mainly from 1915 onwards. I came across the head stone for one man, lieutenant Welch who died in 1914. I stopped and photographed the head stone because he struck me as being very much like my grandfather who had survived the war. It was the only head stone I photographed during my visit to Ypres too. He was the same age as my grandfather, both served in the Royal Field Artillery, Welch was killed on the 30th October 1914 near Ypres, my grand father wounded on the 31st October also near Ypres. There were a number of coincidences.

    What shocked me went I cam back to Australia was to learn Lieutenant Welch served briefly side by side with my grandfather in the 117th battery RFA. I came across his name in the War Diaries for both the Ammunition Column and the 117th battery. This was part of a book I have been putting together on the first 100 days that my grandfather was in the war. Welch was transferred from the 26th Brigade Ammunition Column to make up good some of the 117th battery losses in men, they had been in the thick of fighting at the Chemin Des Dames in September 1914. It was a short lived transfer for Welch! My grandfather watched him receive the fatal wound. Probably from an exploding German shell. As it was, the 117th battery suffered the sort of numerical losses that gave a serving artillerymen little chance of making it past the first 100 days of war without being wounded or killed. It was only the beginning!

    • Magicfingers says:

      Brendan, I have just (literally) returned from four days on the Somme, hence you haven’t had a reply yet. And you aren’t going to get a proper one right now either, as I am absolutely knackered and need a good nights’ sleep (Arras has some excellent bars). But thanks for what looks like a fascinating story and I’ll have a proper look tomorrow. When I eventually get up!

      • Magicfingers says:

        Brendan, firstly, thanks for taking the time to comment so fully. Your kind words are much appreciated. Secondly, what an extraordinary thing! Karma, methinks. You must have considered that, but for fate, what happened to Lieutenant Welch could have happened to your Grandfather instead. With the obvious consequences.

        How far have you got with the book, btw?

    • 3636 says:

      Hello, I would be most interested in the book you’re putting together, my Great Grandfather was a sergeant in the 117th Battery, 26th Bde RFA. How can I contact you?

    • 3636 says:

      Hello, how can i contact you? really interested in your book and any information on the 117th Battery RFA as mry Great Grandfather served as a sergeant in that unit in 1914, he was in France in August 1914 and was injured in Nov 1914, he would have served along side your Grandfather. I would really like to get in touch.
      Thank you

  4. Brendan Vaughan says:

    Thanks for your reply. “Blown away” by the experience. I am still telling people who have a similar opinion to yours. Why, the hand that guides, brought me there?

    The book “1000 Miles to Ypres” is essentially written whole after three years of research. I am trying to really understand what happened from the perspective of my grandfather. To do justice to the story I obviously have to think about the actions of senior commanders such as Haig and so on – but from a soldiers perspective.

    It gives me the shivers every time I think about the margins of life and death for those poor fellows. Less than an inch was often all that was in it, one way or the other. For mine, I am glad grandfather survived it all. In the end though a sad end for him too. The spirits of all these men are not to be forgotten.

    You are right, I wonder whether poor Lieutenant Welch has family enquiring into his fate. He probably never had the chance to have a family. A life lost far too young…perhaps a family never had. I do not know.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well put Brendan. Keep tuned over the next few days and you’ll see I had a ‘blown away’ experience myself just last week. The hand that guides indeed.

  5. Brendan Vaughan says:

    Hi Gentlemen,

    My apologies. I will check back through the home emails – my wife runs the inbox :). I am really happy you have reached out. I would relish the opportunity to discuss any information you have about your grandfather whilst in the 117th – no matter how small you might think the detail. I cover my GF from 1st enlistment 1907 to 1913 then August 1914 Aldershot to October 1914 Gheluvelt – hence “1000miles”. Slow work indeed. I have back tracked in my book to include a full chapter about a rather sad episode at Langemarck in the week before Gheluvelt. Lots of boys gunned down there by a hail of deadly 18 pounder fire. I have establish the names of a number of the men my GF fought with but as you already know there is not a lot out there in the public domain. I agree, my GF would definitely fought with your grandfather based on the dates you mentioned. There were four 117th guns manned by around twenty men plus supports on those last days – no doubt they knew exactly who was there – no doubt each and every one of them would not wanted to make a good account of themselves and to not let their mates down. My GF was wounded (first time on the 31st Oct). Sounds like your GF nearly made it through the 1st Battle of Ypres. This string has all come about because of poor Lieutenant Welsh (above) who was hit and died on the 30th of October. I confess to an error above it was Lt Wurtele not Lt Welch who transferred to 117 from the BAC. Being seriously interested in the subject I am taking my time to get it as right as I can….I look forward to conversing.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Brendan, I have mailed 3636 just in case they don’t see your message; same applies as earlier – I hope it doesn’t end up in their spam folder!!

    • 3636 says:

      Thank you so much for getting in touch, and thank you Magicfingers for sorting it out.
      My Great Grandfathers name was William Brown, number 3646. Sgt with 117th Battery from 1913, Joined 1900, came to 26th Brigade in 1912 to 116th Battery then to 117th Battery in 1913. Left for France 16/8/1914, injured 14th November 1914, and then recovered to join 107th Brigade RFA Ammo Column Aug 1915 as a Sgt, then became C Battery 107th Brigade RFA’s BSM a couple of days later. he left France in Nov 1917 with Debility, obviously exhausted and in a bad way. He then went to India in 1917 til 1920 and was discharged in 1921 as BSM. I am really interested in whatever information you have on the Battery, and quite excited to contact someone who’s relative fought along side mine. Do you have any Battery, or Brigade Photos? I am so proud of my Great Grandfather, and to all those who were there. I really look forward to hearing from you, Thank you

  6. Brendan Vaughan says:

    Thank you for your reply and of course to you Magicfingers! I am excited too. I have WO 090/1250/1. This is Col Cunliffe Owens dairy and I also have (contained therein)117 dairy which was written I presume by Major’s Packard until his wounding on the Chemin Des Dames in Sept 1914. The dairy appears to have a a break – but resumes in October! I presume it was the new Major Prichard who described the Langemarck and Gheluvelt fighting. I am not certain as neither dairy was signed – regardless it does not change the story. What is the best way to communicate directly with you regarding the above? I am on Linkedin (Watpac) and you can request to add to network. We can take it from there. I have my GF’s papers too. Enough information to put the story together but would always appreciate more if you are willing to share.
    Thanks again to all.

    Best regards,

    Brendan

    Thank you again.

    • 3636 says:

      Thank you for reply. I also have the war diary for 26th Bde RFA with the 117th Bty diary in it. What a read! I also have all the paperwork, service record, Medal rolls and index card, etc for my Great Grandfather. The only thing I have not got is a photo of him :-(. I don’t know what I can do to help contribute to your book other than tell the story, as much as I know, about him. I would love to know what you know. Contact, all I have us email, is there anyway Magicfingers could get my email address to you?

  7. Brendan Vaughan says:

    Good question. Magicfingers has my private email and he may be able to send me your email address, if you are happy for that to happen. I would be happy to share the story with you.

  8. SJ Dexter says:

    I am transcribing Frederick (Fred) William Mawson’s 1916 diary. While searching for a current photo of Ramparts Cemetery, I ended up on your website. Overwhelmed to find a photo of Fred’s grave. Literally burst into tears. Fred was a carpenter from Surrey Hills, Victoria, Australia who joined up on 12 July 1915 and served with the 5th Field Company Engineers. His carpentry skills were employed building dugouts, redoubts, canteens, sheds and trenches. Other work included building pontoons, bridges, railway lines and barbed wire entanglements. Often they worked at night under fire. He was hit by a shell while putting up barbed wire at Westhoek, 4 miles from Ypres/Ieper. He had just been promoted to Lance Corporal. Could I include a copy of your photo of his grave, crediting yourself, in our publication of his diary? It is a noncommercial booklet with copies to be provided for Fred’s family, local historical society, local library, RSL and Australian War Memorial.
    Many thanks for sharing your visit to Ramparts.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thank you very much for your kind comments SJ, and I make no apologies for arousing such emotions – mind you, it brought a lump to the throat reading your comments. Of course you may have a copy of the photo. I’m only sorry it isn’t better – it was taken three cameras ago, and the cameras I use today are far superior. I can email you a copy if you cannot get a good enough copy from the site. Although I am imminently going away for ten days and will have little internet coverage. By the way, you might find this of interest – something that happened to me last summer: http://thebignote.com/2016/05/22/dantzig-alley-british-cemetery-private-cecil-carrick-wotton/

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