It’s been a long tour, but at last we arrive at our final destination, Spoilbank Cemetery, named after the banks of spoil heaped nearby when the cutting for the now disused Ypres-Comines canal was originally dug. 520 men, one fifth of them unidentified, are buried here, the majority from between February 1915 and March 1918, although further burials were brought in from the surrounding battlefield after the war.
Looking north east from near the cemetery entrance across a sodden Plot I, with Chester Farm Military Cemetery clearly visible just up the road in the background, as is the farm from which it takes its name.
Despite its size, Spoilbank Cemetery comprises just two plots, with Plot I (pictured) being by far the largest. This view looks north. Here’s the CWGC cemetery plan:
Near the cemetery entrance are two rows of facing headstones, special memorials to men ‘believed’ or, in one case, ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’.
Behind the left hand row of special memorials Plot I continues until the final few rows just visible in the left background, which make up the much smaller Plot II.
The row of special memorials to the left, left to right:
|GUNNER T. RILEY||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem A 1|
|PRIVATE S. KEYES||13th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||u/k||01/03/1918||Spec. Mem A 2|
|PRIVATE J. A. MAPLE||ROYAL FUSILIERS||17||09/09/1917||Spec. Mem A 3|
|BOMBARDIER J. E. MADDOCKS||ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY||27||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem A 4|
|PRIVATE A. PATTEN*||MACHINE GUN CORPS (INFANTRY)||34||02/03/1916||Spec. Mem A 5|
*Private Patten’s headstone is the one mentioned earlier bearing the inscription ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’.
The row of special memorials to the right, left to right:
|CAPTAIN B. C. WINSER||LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS||u/k||15/02/1916||Spec. Mem
|GUNNER A. HIGHAM||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem
|GUNNER J. FARRER||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem
|GUNNER J. J. CHANDLER||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||27||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem
|CORPORAL J. A. HOUGHTON||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||35||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem
|SECOND LIEUTENANT H. C. ROWE||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||21||19/07/1917||Spec. Mem
Sunset over the waterlogged graves of Plot I.
Four men of the West Yorkshire Regiment (also visible in the previous photograph), killed on the same day in March 1916 and buried together in Plot I Row K.
|PRIVATE H. H. HOLLINS||WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||02/03/1916||I K 5|
|LANCE CORPORAL C. JONES||WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||02/03/1916||I K 5|
|LANCE CORPORAL A. C. RUSSELL||WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT||25||02/03/1916||I K 5|
|PRIVATE J. N. NEWBOLD||WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT||21||02/03/1916||I K 5|
The Cross of Sacrifice, flanked by Plot I Row P to the left, and Row O to the right.
View looking east down the length of the cemetery from its far western edge, with the Cross of Sacrifice just visible between the trees to the left. Plot II comprises just the six rows nearest the camera, the first four of which appear to be exclusively Australians, all killed during the early months of 1918. The two graves in the foreground are, left to right:
|PRIVATE R. G. NEWBERY||10th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||33||26/03/1918||II F
|PRIVATE E. G. WILLIAMS||10th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||29||27/03/1918||II F 2|
View from Plot II looking north east. Chester Farm Military Cemetery can again be seen in the centre background.
Plot II Row A, examples of the post-war re-burials mentioned earlier. Rifleman Onslow, you will notice, was killed in November 1914, and thus is now the earliest burial in the cemetery. However at the time it was two Cheshire Regiment men who were the first burials here in February 1915. Tragically they were brothers, Lieutenant J. Keating and Second Lieutenant G. Keating, killed and buried side-by-side on February 17th 1915. Their headstones (or at least the reverse of their headstones) are visible in an earlier photograph, but you’ve got the cemetery plan, so you can find them yourselves if you wish.
If it helps (and it does), their grave references are Plot I Row H 3 & 4.
Front row, this time from right to left:
|A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR|
|A SOLDIER OF THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS|
|RIFLEMAN W. ONSLOW||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||u/k||05/11/1914||II A 26|
|LANCE CORPORAL J. E. NOLAN||KING’S OWN (ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT)||35||02/03/1916||II A 25|
|A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR|
|A SOLDIER OF THE KING’S OWN (ROYAL LANCASTER REGIMENT)|
Looking directly into the setting sun (yes, I know, you’d already noticed that) from the eastern corner of the cemetery. The headstones in the foreground are, left to right:
|PRIVATE W. RATCLIFFE||MACHINE GUN CORPS (INFANTRY)||u/k||20/06/1917||I AA 1|
|SECOND LIEUTENANT S. H. COATES||EAST KENT REGIMENT (THE BUFFS)||33||07/06/1917||I AA 2|
|CAPTAIN F. RICHARDSON||24th BN, LONDON REGIMENT||33||07/06/1917||I AA 3|
The headstones in the row behind are Manchester Regiment men killed in February 1916.
Last view of Spoilbank Cemetery as the sun finally disappears and our tour of the cemeteries to the south of Zillebeke reaches its conclusion. Home for a Chimay or two, eh Balders? You’re paying.