About a mile and a half north, and slightly east, of Ypres (yes Baldrick, I know… Ieper), CWGC signposts point the way to the three cemeteries we shall be visiting on this mini-tour. Although all three are sited on land held by the British throughout the war, for much of the time they were not so very far behind the front lines, as the accompanying trench map from April 1917 (see the Trench Maps section) clearly shows.
The first, and earliest, is the tiny La Belle Alliance Cemetery.
The cemetery is named after a farm that stood a couple of hundred yards away to the north east but was destroyed during the war and, unlike others we have seen on previous tours, never rebuilt. Although the two other cemeteries we shall visit on this mini-tour are both nearer to the site of the farm, as you can see on the trench map, the first burials at La Belle Alliance had been made a year and a half before either of these came into existence, and the cemetery had thus already earned its name. It is probably no coincidence that it ceased to be used at about the same time that the first burials were made at the other two cemeteries.
Once inside the cemetery gate, a beautifully manicured grass path leads us through the crops on either side to the cemetery itself.
Lone grave just inside the cemetery entrance:
|DRIVER F. J. OAKFORD||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||05/08/1917||D 1|
Here’s the CWGC cemetery plan: La Belle Alliance Cemetery Plan
View looking north west past two graves on the right of the cemetery entrance. Left to right:
|PRIVATE J. THOMPSON||ARGYLL & SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS||25||03/08/1917||D 2|
|A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR|
The cemetery was begun in February and March 1916 when the King’s Royal Rifle Corps buried twelve of their men here (there is a single Somerset Light Infantryman buried here who died the day before the K.R.R.C. first began using the cemetery). The four pictured are, left to right:
|RIFLEMAN J. W. HALFORD||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||u/k||21/02/1916||B 1|
|RIFLEMAN T. MATLEY||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||u/k||20/02/1916||B 2|
|RIFLEMAN W. UNDERWOOD||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||36||19/02/1916||B 3|
|RIFLEMAN J. W. BUTTERWORTH*||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||22||22/02/1916||B 4|
*the CWGC casualty details list gives his rank as Lance Corporal.
The headstone behind to the left is one of ten unknown graves in this cemetery. The one to the right is:
|PIONEER J. GLENNIE||ROYAL ENGINEERS||38||05/08/1917||D 4|
To the right of the four headstones in Row B in the previous photograph, this is the grave Rifleman David Boswell of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, aged just 21 when he was killed, and mentioned by Andrew B in the comments section below. Photograph very kindly donated by Marcel, who has a very nice site that you might like to explore. If so, click here.
View looking west past the Cross of Sacrifice. Row C is to the left of the photograph, Row B to the right. You will by now have noticed that Baldrick has gained an entourage. He’ll probably take them home with him. What a guy!
Row C. The headstone in Row A in the foreground is:
|RIFLEMAN W. COX||KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS||u/k||13/02/1916||A 2|
The cemetery remained unused between the K.R.R.C. burials in March 1916, and July 15th 1917, when five Border Regiment men were buried here, but the majority of the burials at the cemetery were made towards the end of July 1917 by the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) and the South Staffordshire Regiment, six of whom are pictured here, two names per headstone. Left to right:
|CORPORAL F. BEVINGTON||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 2|
|LANCE CORPORAL J. H. SHARP||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||27||25/07/1917||C 2|
|PRIVATE J. PAM||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 2|
|PRIVATE J. FEREDAY||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 2|
|PRIVATE F. HANDLEY||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 2|
|PRIVATE D. COLEMAN||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 2|
Three further burials, which proved to be the final ones at La Belle Alliance, were made in early August 1917.
Four more of the South Staffs graves with a Sherwood Forester to the far left*. Left to right:
|PRIVATE R. H. R. McAUSLAND||SHERWOOD FORESTERS (NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT)||21||28/07/1917||C 1|
|PRIVATE S. EDWARDS||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||25/07/1917||C 1|
|PRIVATE H. H. HAYWARD||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||27/07/1917||C 1|
|CORPORAL G. E. SMAWLEY||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||27/07/1917||C 1|
|PRIVATE W. CHURM||SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||27/07/1917||C 1|
*A closer look, initiated by Marco’s comment at the end of the post, reveals that all but the middle headstone are actually inscribed with two names; seven men of the South Staffordshires lie here, alongside two Sherwood Foresters.
The Land Tablet inscribed with the words that guarantee this piece of land as a perpetual resting place for those buried here.
Lone headstone inscribed: ‘To the memory of several soldiers of the Great War – South Staffordshire Regiment – buried in this grave’. Sorry it’s such a rubbish photograph, but I really didn’t want to leave them out.
A bit of pruning? In the background just across the road is Divisional Collecting Post Cemetery & Extension, our next, considerably larger, port of call.