A Tour of Zillebeke Part Seven – Woods Cemetery

Now Baldrick and I rarely do things the easy way, so no real surprise when we find ourselves failing dismally to find the entrance to Woods Cemetery.  Luckily for us the logs to the right of the photograph give us an alternative route.  Correction.  Give me an alternative route.  Baldrick, you will be unsurprised to hear, is rather less successful, and finds himself floundering around in a marsh.  Still, we get across, and after a traipse across the sodden field beyond, and a respectful clamber over the cemetery wall (I know, I’m sorry, but there really was no alternative by this time), we finally make it.  Woods Cemetery.

Woods Cemetery and the Cross of Sacrifice taken from Plot V looking due south.  You will notice, if you look at the accompanying Cemetery Plan (courtesy of the CWGC), that we are at the far northern tip of the cemetery.  You will also notice that the cemetery entrance isn’t.

Woods Cemetery Plan

Plot III Rows D (nearest the camera) & E, with the headstones of Plot I visible beyond the Cross.

Looking back towards Plot II (the seven rows in the foreground), with Plots IV & V beyond to the right, in front of the wall where we made our unconventional entrance.  All but a dozen or so of the graves in Plot II are Canadians who died during the fighting around here between April (when the majority were killed), and August 1916.

Two unknown soldiers, Plot III, Row F.

Looking north past the Cross of Sacrifice; the headstones of Plot III are nearest the camera, those of Plot II to the left rear, with Plots IV & V in the right background.

Three London Regiment graves in Plot I Row B, with the base of the Cross of Sacrifice to the right of the photograph.  The two headstones in the left background are the unknown soldiers pictured two photographs previously.  The row in the background to the right is Plot III Row E.  Front row, left to right:

PRIVATE W. STAFF20th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2818/07/1917I B 35
PRIVATE R. WOOD20th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k10/07/1917I B 36
PRIVATE H. F. DENMAN20th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k10/07/1917I B 37

Three Royal Artillery men, all killed on the same day in November 1917.  These were the final burials at this cemetery and are situated in a little extension of Plot II (take a careful look at the previous photo), perhaps buried where they fell.  Left to right:

BOMBARDIER G. M. BRANDROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY3312/11/1917II Z 1
GUNNER J. WANNROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY3112/11/1917II Z 2
GUNNER W. MORTONROYAL FIELD ARTILLERYu/k12/11/1917II Z 3

Another view looking north, past the Cross of Sacrifice to the spires of the Cloth Hall and St. Martin’s Cathedral, clearly visible on the horizon.  I am not entirely sure what the spire to the right is, but I’m sure someone who lives around here will tell me.  Please.  And yes, those are the two trees I mentioned back at 1st D.C.L.I.

‘Known Unto God’.

Twenty four East Surrey men were buried here between May and July 1915.  The two pictured above & below are:

PRIVATE A. GILSON EAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k12/05/1915I B 26

PRIVATE E. SUTTLEEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k12/05/1915I B 25

View looking north east towards the Cross from the middle of Plot I, showing, from left to right, Rows A, B & C.

The earliest burials here were made in April 1915 by the Dorsetshire Regiment, before the East Surrey’s began using the cemetery the following month.  After 1916 it was used only sporadically until the final burials, as we have seen, in November 1917.

PRIVATE H. CASSONMANDORSETSHIRE REGIMENT2921/04/1915I B 17

More East Surrey men lie next to one of only two Manchester Regiment burials in the cemetery.  Left to right:

PRIVATE A. KITEMANCHESTER REGIMENTu/k26/02/1916I B 1
PRIVATE T. PETERSEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k22/06/1915I B 2
PRIVATE G. COUSINSEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k22/06/1915I B 3
PRIVATE W. BURGESSEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k19/06/1915I B 4

Plot I.

Ah, at last, the fabled cemetery entrance.  From where we must take our leave and begin our walk back to the car.

CWGC signposts point our way back along the ridge towards the cemeteries we have already visited.

CWGC marker stone.  I presume these once showed the way before the modern signposts were put up.  Or do they have some entirely different purpose?  Can anyone confirm?

After a short walk we find ourselves back at 1st D.C.L.I. Cemetery, The Bluff, and a reminder of the conditions facing the men who lived and died here all those years ago.

One final look back at 1st D.C.L.I. Cemetery…

…ahead of us, a last view of Hedge Row Trench Cemetery…

…before we pass this beautiful pool…it appears on trench maps so presumably is a natural feature…and return to the car.  The sun is beginning to set, and we still have two more cemeteries to visit, both considerably larger than the three up here on the ridge, before our tour comes to an end.

The sun is beginning to set, and we still have two more cemeteries to visit, both considerably larger than the three up here on the ridge, before the first part of our tour comes to an end. But what if, instead of heading back to the car, we had set off through the woods, crossing the old No Man’s Land as we did so, to see if there’s anything worth seeing on the other side of the Bluff, on the German side. Welcome to the eastern side of the Palingbeek, as this whole area, including the Bluff, is actually known today. If you’d rather continue this tour as we actually did it, however, then click here for Chester Farm Military Cemetery; there’ll be another link to the Palingbeek at the end of this first section of our tour.

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2 Responses to A Tour of Zillebeke Part Seven – Woods Cemetery

  1. Baldrick says:

    It’s all coming back to me now… good times, if rather wet, this particular trip 🙂

  2. Magicfingers says:

    Oh yes Balders! Good times indeed. Wet, and cold, but enjoyed every minute. And more to come I hope.

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