A Tour of Zillebeke Part Eight – Chester Farm Military Cemetery

On leaving the Bluff we need only travel half a mile or so west to reach the final two cemeteries on our tour. Only a few hundred yards apart, these cemeteries contain more than 900 British burials, mainly from between early 1915 and late 1917 (although Spoilbank Cemetery was in use until 1918). The most northern of them, and our first stop, is Chester Farm Military Cemetery.

Although a handful of burials were made here in March 1915, it was the East Surreys and the Manchester Regiment who began using the cemetery on a, sadly, more regular basis in April 1915. It continued in use until November 1917.

Chester Farm Military Cemetery, looking west from near the cemetery entrance across Plot I.  Although there are more than four hundred burials here there are only three designated Plots, as you can see on the accompanying cemetery plan, as usual by kind permission of the CWGC.

Chester Farm Military Cemetery Plan

You may care to note the profusion of Manchester Regiment headstones visible in this photograph. Between April and July 1915 the Manchesters buried 93 of their dead here. The two nearest the camera are, left to right:

PRIVATE J. NEDDERMANMANCHESTER REGIMENTu/k28/05/1915I A 20
PRIVATE J. J. CRAFTMANCHESTER REGIMENT3526/05/1915I A 21

Two of the thirteen East Surrey men buried here in April 1915.  Left to right:

SERJEANT A. MUDIE EAST SURREY REGIMENT3126/04/1915I D 20
PRIVATE T. J. ROBSONEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k26/04/1915I D 21

View looking north west towards the spires of the Cloth Hall and St. Martin’s Cathedral in Ypres, visible through the trees on the horizon. The Canadian graves in the foreground are at the start of the final row of Plot I, Row K, which stretches across much of the width of the cemetery. The headstones behind constitute Plot II and those in the right background, the start of Plot III.

Three special memorial headstones to men ‘buried elsewhere in this cemetery’ (centre), and ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’ (right).  It’s interesting to note that the headstone on the left is inscribed Notts & Derby Regiment, and the one in the centre Sherwood Forresters.  Why is that of interest?  Because, of course, they are one and the same regiment.  Left to right:

PRIVATE J. NEWBURYNOTTS & DERBY REGIMENTu/k12/09/1915Spec.
Mem 4
PRIVATE F. HARRISONTHE SHERWOOD FORESTERS2123/09/1915Spec.
Mem 5
PRIVATE H. BENNETTMANCHESTER REGIMENTu/k19/07/1915Spec.
Mem 6

Waterlogged graves from 1917 in Plot II, left to right:

GUNNER G. BLOOMERROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERYu/k12/09/1917II A 11
GUNNER J. KINGROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERYu/k12/09/1917II A 12
PRIVATE C. BELLROYAL FUSILIERSu/k18/09/1917II A 13

The earliest burials at Chester Farm, these two Norfolk men died on the same day in March 1915.  Left to right:

PRIVATE O. TAYLOR NORFOLK REGIMENTu/k15/03/1915II AA 1
PRIVATE W. BARNESNORFOLK REGIMENTu/k15/03/1915II AA 1A

Plot II Row H in the far western corner of the cemetery. The two headstones at the far end of the row are German, as is the one in the right background. The front two CWGC headstones are, nearest camera first:

PRIVATE E. LEWIS 23rd BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k15/03/1917II H 4
PRIVATE J. W. BANFIELDQUEEN’S OWN
(ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT)
u/k03/03/1917II H 3

Looking south east towards the Cross of Sacrifice, with Plot II Row E to the left and Row D to the right, and Plot I Row K across the centre.

          

Two small photographs, but so many names.  Of the various battalions of the London Regiment who buried their dead here, the headstones of the 7th Battalion are most in evidence.  Above left:  Front row, left to right:

PRIVATE A. J. JACKSON7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2022/12/1916III F 1
PRIVATE J. SKINNER 7th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k21/12/1916III F 2
PRIVATE W. R. SILVER7th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k15/12/1916III F 3
PRIVATE S. P. CLIFFORD7th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k15/12/1916III F 4
PRIVATE E. A. COSBURN7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2513/12/1916III F 5

There are London Regiment men in the row behind too, although this time from the 20th Battalion.  Left to right:

PRIVATE A. J. BAKER20th BN, LONDON REGIMENT3220/02/1917III G 1
PRIVATE T. CALLAGHAN20th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k20/02/1917III G 2
PRIVATE M. A. ELLIOTT20th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k28/02/1917III G 3
PRIVATE H. G. NATION20th BN, LONDON REGIMENT3528/02/1917III G 4*
PRIVATE W. MARSHALL20th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k28/02/1917III G 5

* Clearly incorrectly, the CWGC casualty details list also states that Second Lieutenant A. W. Bays of the Middlesex Regiment is buried in III  G 4.

Above right: The headstones in the background to the left are the same ones as in the previous picture. The 7th Battalion men in the front row are, left to right:

PRIVATE W. G. BEZLEY7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2010/04/1917III D 2
SERJEANT C. W. A. ROBERTSON7th BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k24/03/1917III D 3
PRIVATE G. J. CATE7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2325/03/1917III D 4

The single headstone visible to the right in the second row is:

PRIVATE W. EWENS 7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2521/12/1916III E 1

Plot III, Row A, left to right:

SAPPER L. J. KNOWLESROYAL ENGINEERSu/k07/06/1917III A 1
SAPPER W. M. ONGLEYROYAL ENGINEERSu/k10/06/1917III A 1A
LANCE CORPORAL L. BEAVIS7th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2109/06/1917III A 1B
PRIVATE M. JOFFELONDON REGIMENT (PRINCE OF WALES’ OWN CIVIL SERVICE RIFLES)2007/06/1917III A 1C
LANCE CORPORAL G. P. HOWIEMACHINE GUN CORPS (INFANTRY)u/k07/06/1917III A 1D
PIONEER J. G. E. DAVISROYAL ENGINEERS2307/06/1917III A 1E
PRIVATE E. J. DORRINGTON24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT1907/06/1917III A 1F

The headstones of Plot II cast lengthening shadows behind two more London Regiment burials in Plot I.  Left to right:

PRIVATE R. J. STANBRIDGE24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2022/05/1917I K 24
PRIVATE G. B. HILL 24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2421/05/1917I K 25

Plot I Row K, continued from the previous picture, with Plot III beyond.  Left to right:

SAPPER E. P. ETHERIDGEROYAL ENGINEERS3329/05/1917I K 26
PRIVATE H. PHILIPS*19th BN, COUNTY OF LONDONu/k07/06/1917I K 27
RIFLEMAN W. E. CRANNLONDON IRISH RIFLES3408/06/1917I K 28
RIFLEMAN A. G. COOPERLONDON IRISH RIFLESu/k08/06/1917I K 28A
RIFLEMAN D. FOAYLONDON IRISH RIFLES3808/06/1917I K 28B
SECOND LIEUTENANT H. A. DUCKETTHIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY2407/06/1917I K 29

*The CWGC casualty details list spells Philips with two ‘l’s.

Four more London Regiment burials, Plot I Row J, left to right:

PRIVATE A. E. MOSS24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT2102/12/1916I J 11
PRIVATE S. H. YOUNG23rd BN, LONDON REGIMENTu/k04/12/1916I J 12
PRIVATE W. G. SMITH24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT1922/01/1917I J 13
PRIVATE G. H. CRAMMOND24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT1909/03/1917I J 14

North westerly view looking towards the Cross of Sacrifice with Plot I Row H in the foreground.  Left to right:

RIFLEMAN H. MORETONFIRST SURREY RIFLES2604/07/1917I H 11
PRIVATE A. A. BALLREGIMENT (PRINCE OF WALES’ OWN CIVIL SERVICE RIFLES) 2403/07/1917I H 12
PRIVATE H. S. OCKENDENREGIMENT (PRINCE OF WALES’ OWN CIVIL SERVICE RIFLES) 3303/07/1917I H 13

More Manchester and East Surrey graves. Front row, left to right:

PRIVATE P. ROBINSONEAST SURREY REGIMENT2913/04/1915I D 17
PRIVATE G. EDMEADSEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k14/04/1915I D 18
PRIVATE D. CRAWFORDMANCHESTER REGIMENTu/k19/04/1915I D 19
PRIVATE W. GRANTMANCHESTER REGIMENT2519/04/1915I D 19A
PRIVATE W. SOUTHWORTHMANCHESTER REGIMENT2419/04/1915I D 19B
PRIVATE W. MARTINMANCHESTER REGIMENT4519/04/1915I D 19C

Now, elsewhere on this site I explain that the East Surrey Regiment is my ‘local’ regiment and that therefore you are likely to see quite a number of East Surrey headstones pictured should we come across them on our travels.  As if to prove the point, the photo above, and the two following, are more East Surrey men, killed near here in April 1915.  Above, front row, left to right:

PRIVATE D. H. MARRSEAST SURREY REGIMENT2829/04/1915I D 14
PRIVATE O. W. APPSEAST SURREY REGIMENT2029/04/1915I D 15

Above left, front row, left to right:

PRIVATE H. J. CROCKETTEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k12/04/1915I D 12
PRIVATE F. C. JOHNSONEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k27/04/1915I D 13

Above right, front row, left to right:

LANCE CORPORAL H. G. HACKETTEAST SURREY REGIMENT4812/04/1915I D 10
PRIVATE G. CURTISEAST SURREY REGIMENTu/k12/04/1915I D 11

North east view looking along the East Surrey burials in Plot I Row D, with more Manchester graves behind.

At this point, you might be interested in the following two pages from 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment Battalion Orders, dated 24th April 1915 (left), and 15th May 1915 (right).  You will find all ten of the East Surrey men mentioned earlier by name listed, five on each page, but equally interesting is the subsequent list of men sent to hospital, and the nature of their wounds (one of which is self-inflicted).  For your information G.S.W. (gun shot wound) refers to any gun, including artillery, doubtless the cause of the majority of these injuries.

         

View from the southern corner of Chester Farm looking north across Plot I.  Front row, left to right:

PRIVATE J. G. HAMILTONGORDON HIGHLANDERS2614/08/1915I C 1
PRIVATE H. PULESTONLONDON REGIMENT (ROYAL FUSILIERS)2127/10/1915I C 2
PRIVATE F. KILLENGORDON HIGHLANDERSu/k14/08/1915I C 3

Still in the south corner, headstones in Plot I Row B nearest the camera, with those pictured in the previous photo directly behind.  Front row, left to right:

LANCE CORPORAL A. GARDNERGORDON HIGHLANDERS2514/08/1915I B 1
PRIVATE T. D’ARCYNOTTS & DERBY REGIMENTu/k30/09/1915I B 2
PRIVATE G. PARTRIDGENOTTS & DERBY REGIMENTu/k30/09/1915I B 3
PRIVATE H. CHAPMANNOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT2130/09/1915I B 4

Numerically the first, but as we have seen, not, by far, the earliest burials.  Left to right:

PRIVATE G. T. HARRISON NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT2224/09/1915I A 1
PRIVATE G. F. SLATERNOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT1926/09/1915I A 2

Back at the eastern corner, near the cemetery entrance, looking along Plot I Row A into the setting sun.

So, time to leave Chester Farm, and head down the road to Spoilbank Cemetery.  But first…

Prepare yourselves.  Are you ready for this?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…

…the one, the only…

…without whom etc etc…

…yes, it’s Baldrick, chauffeur and spotter extraordinaire.  Is that a smile or a scowl?  A wave, or a demonstration of a single death-dealing karate blow?  When it comes to Balders the Enigmatic, it’s impossible to tell.

I think we should move on.

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