Zantvoorde British Cemetery (Part One) & the Ten Brielen Bunker

Zantvoorde British Cemetery is unusual, at least compared to the other cemeteries we have so far visited, in that it didn’t exist until after the war.  Unsurprising really, bearing in mind that the Germans took the village of Zantvoorde (now Zandvoorde) at the end of October 1914 and held it for nearly four years, until the end of September 1918.  After the Armistice, bodies recovered from the surrounding battlefields (and perhaps further afield) and from nearby German cemeteries were brought here to be re-interred, which explains why the majority of the men who now lie here are unidentified.  Of a total of 1583 burials, 1135 have no known name.

View looking west along the cemetery wall towards the village of Zandvoorde and Zandvoorde Church in the background.

Inside the cemetery entrance are the words found in every CWGC cemetery in Flanders*, guaranteeing a ‘perpetual resting place’ for all the men buried here.

*unless you know otherwise?

Looking north from the cemetery entrance along the regimented ranks of headstones (see the cemetery plan, thanks to the CWGC, below); the single headstone against the northern wall in the distance is a special memorial (see next picture).

Zantvoorde British Cemetery Plan

Close-up of the special memorial headstone for Private Spencer.

PRIVATE W. H. SPENCERSOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY2904/10/1917Sp Mem I

A sadly typical example of the burials at Zantvoorde British Cemetery, only one of the ten graves in the front row is identified (fourth from right – see below for details).  One other headstone bears a regimental badge (possibly the South Wales Borderers) but the grave is unidentified.

PRIVATE D. EARLBORDER REGIMENTu/k20/10/1914V J 17

South east view across the headstones of Plot V in the foreground, with the Stone of Remembrance in the middle distance, and the Cross of Sacrifice in the eastern corner of the cemetery beyond.

Two unidentified men of the Royal Field Artillery, killed on September 30th 1918, just six weeks before the end of the war.  The Middlesex headstone visible in the centre of the second row is that of:

PRIVATE A. W. RANDALLMIDDLESEX REGIMENT2429/09/1918II J 18

An unknown soldier of the Middlesex Regiment (left), and another unknown artilleryman (right), killed, presumably along with his colleagues in the previous photograph, on September 30th 1918.  The inscriptions on two of the headstones in the second row, on the far left and in the centre, are just visible:

CORPORAL E. W. NORMAN 33rd BN, LONDON REGIMENT2507/10/1918II J 13
COMPANY SERJEANT MAJOR W. G. LAMBQUEEN’S OWN (ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT)3729/09/1918II J 15

Panoramic view from the northern corner of the cemetery looking south.

Zandvoorde Church, viewed across the headstones of Plot III.  There are four British burials in the churchyard, men of the 10th (Prince of Wales’s Own Royal) Hussars, all killed on October 26th 1914, four days before the Germans took the village.  Next time, I shall not forget to visit them.  Doh!

Front row, left to right:

GUNNER G. A. THOMPSON MMROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY4530/07/1917III A 1
PRIVATE W. MORRIS ROYAL IRISH FUSILIERSu/k26/08/1916III A 2
A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WARROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY

All the graves in the second row are unidentified except the headstone fourth from left:

PRIVATE J. GRIFFIN20th BN, THE KING’S (LIVERPOOL REGIMENT)2131/07/1917III B 4

STOP PRESS JANUARY 2012!  Coming soon: more photos of Zantvoorde British Cemetery (including the two VC holders buried here), a visit to Zandvoorde churchyard (told you I wouldn’t forget), and we pay our respects at the Household Cavalry Monument.

Not far from Zantvoorde British Cemetery, just off the road that heads south east towards Ten Brielen, is a German command bunker, built in 1916 and most unusually still retaining ground cover above its concrete roof.  Cleaned out in the 1980s, and a listed monument since 1999, the bunker is a fine example of its type, and well worth a look around.

Walls at times five feet thick provide more than adequate protection for those inside.

Note the shell damage visible to the far left.

A friend of mine recently loaned me some of his grandfather’s trench maps and part of one, rather fortuitously, happens to show the German second line trench system around Zandvoorde in July 1917.  I have marked the site of Zantvoorde British Cemetery in green (remember, this is a post-war cemetery), and if you follow the road south east from Zandvoorde you will see the bunker marked in yellow (do a zoom, you’ll find it).

That’s all folks.  At least for the moment.

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