La Belle Alliance Cemetery

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. OAKFORDROYAL FIELD ARTILLERYu/k05/08/1917D 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. THOMPSONARGYLL & SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS2503/08/1917D 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. HALFORDKING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPSu/k21/02/1916B 1
RIFLEMAN T. MATLEYKING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPSu/k20/02/1916B 2
RIFLEMAN W. UNDERWOODKING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS3619/02/1916B 3
RIFLEMAN J. W. BUTTERWORTH*KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS2222/02/1916B 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 ENGINEERS3805/08/1917D 4

Boswell La Belle Alliance Marcel

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 CORPSu/k13/02/1916A 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 REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 2
LANCE CORPORAL J. H. SHARPSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT2725/07/1917C 2
PRIVATE J. PAMSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 2
PRIVATE J. FEREDAYSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 2
PRIVATE F. HANDLEYSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 2
PRIVATE D. COLEMANSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 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) 2128/07/1917C 1
PRIVATE S. EDWARDSSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k25/07/1917C 1
PRIVATE H. H. HAYWARDSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k27/07/1917C 1
CORPORAL G. E. SMAWLEYSOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k27/07/1917C 1
PRIVATE W. CHURM SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENTu/k27/07/1917C 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.

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16 Responses to La Belle Alliance Cemetery

  1. helena says:

    Where you are doing a bit of pruning is behind my grandfather’s grave John Thomson
    03/08/17. My sister and I have been over to Ypres five times to visit his grave. We stayed at the Ariane (highly recommended). la Belle Alliance is a beautiful little cemetery and so well kept.

  2. Magicfingers says:

    That’s not me!! That’s my missus! Seriously though, La Belle Alliance is one of my favourite cemeteries and, as you say, beautifully kept. Might bump in to you there one day!

  3. Marco says:

    The C1 graves are double ones, but you have only listed the top row of names above, possibly because the lower ones are obscured somewhat by plants. I know this as buried with Corporal Smalley is my great uncle, Private Herbert Baxter.

    • Marco says:

      Apologies for my typo above which should be Smawley

      • Magicfingers says:

        Yes, of course, you are absolutely right! My only other excuse, other than the foliage, is that the camera I used on that trip is not my current one, and by the time I got round to posting I simply missed the fact that there are two names on four of the headstones. Many thanks for pointing it out – I have slightly edited the post accordingly.

  4. Andrew Brennan says:

    Any idea on where Private Boswell is buried? Saw his memorial today on this site: http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/remember-on-this-day.html, exactly 1 century after his death.

    Here’s what it said:
    R/3191 Pte. David Boswell, ‘B’ Coy, 10th Bn. King’s Royal Rifle Corps

    David Bosell was born in Warrington in 1895. Before the First World War, David was employed as a drawer in a wire works.

    He enlisted into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at Warrington in September 1914 and arrived in France with the 10th Battalion on 21 July 1915.

    After receiving trench warfare training in the Fleurbaix sector, he moved to the Boesinghe sector on the Ypres Salient in January 1916. Pte Boswell was killed in action on 29th February 1916.

    Pte. David Boswell was buried in La Belle Alliance Cemetery, Belgium.

    29 February 1916 killed in action.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello Andrew. Sorry for the delay in replying – have been away for a week with no internet!! David Boswell is buried here at La Belle Alliance and, very untypically, if I say so myself, I failed to photograph a couple of graves at the eastern end of the cemetery where he lies. The seventh shot shows the graves of four men of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (graves B1-4) and he is buried out of shot to the right of these (B5). I can only apologise for my failure.

      By the way, we shall be visiting the areas where he trained around Fleurbaix on this site later in the year – in fact the recent ‘Nursery’ posts take you round the area immediately north of Fleurbaix, if you’re interested.

      • Andrew Brennan says:

        Hi & thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get overseas this year, but I hope to make the visit eventually. You’re very fortunate to be so near… and it’s great that you’re documenting these sites so that the rest of us can have a much easier time of finding & visiting them.

        All the best,
        Andrew

    • Marcel says:

      Hello,
      I live in The Netherlands and really this page. I have been to Ypres on several occassions and just returned last wednesday. On my last trip I visited the La Belle Alliance cemetery and at this moment I am working on the information about the men buried there.
      I read you are looking for a photo of the grave of Boswell and I have a photo for him. Just sent me an email: info@warcemeteries.nl

      Regards,
      Marcel

  5. David John Dyer says:

    I was just looking through some old medals given to me by my step-grandfather and there it was, H.H.Haywards First World War medal. South Staffs Rgmt. Just googled his name and your site came up. Absolutely blown away to see his final resting place photograph whilst holding the medal in my hands. Very emotional. Thank you so much.

  6. Magicfingers says:

    Made me emotional too, reading your comments! What can I say? This sort of thing makes all the work put into this site worthwhile. Thanks David.

  7. Diane Halford says:

    James William Halford, 10th Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps was my great grandfather. Thank you for visiting his grave, we only found out that he died in the war this year so none of us have visited him yet. Do we know where these young KRR men died ( all,the dates are quite close together) and what they were doing?

    • Magicfingers says:

      I’m glad you found my site Diane. I promise you that when we visit and photograph these cemeteries we never forget that these are real men with real lives cut short far too soon. I don’t know the answer to your K.R.R. question – check the war diary, perhaps, or maybe someone will post something here. Stranger things have happened.

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