Just a couple of hundred yards east of Gunner’s Farm Military Cemetery, on the opposite side of the road, lies the third cemetery on our tour – Calvaire (Essex) Military Cemetery. Begun late in November 1914 by men of the Essex Regiment (a single grave of a Royal Lancaster Regiment man, now situated near the rear of the cemetery, had been here since late October), the cemetery was used on a regular basis until September 1915. Thereafter it was used only sporadically, most notably in June and July 1916 when a number of men from the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) and the Queen’s Own (West Kent) Regiments were buried here, until the final burial was made in January 1917.
If we were to stroll a further mile down the road we would be standing where the front lines ran for much of the war.
All of the 218 burials in the cemetery are identified.
The Cemetery Plan, courtesy of the CWGC, can be viewed here:
Looking east towards the Cross of Sacrifice with Plot IV Row A nearest the camera and the first three rows of Plot I beyond. Plot IV contains the later burials made here, alongside 20 men of the Worcester Regiment who all died between the end of April and early June 1915.
By the end of April 1915 the Essex Regiment had buried 85 of their men in this little cemetery…
…and the Monmouths 45. This view from the northern corner looks south east across Plot I, by far the largest of the four plots.
View from the same spot as the previous picture, this time looking south west. Plot IV, which we shall visit next, is in the background.
Two of a handful of men of the Royal West Kent Regiment who were buried here in July 1916. Left to right:
|CORPORAL F. MARTIN||QUEEN’S OWN (ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT)||u/k||29/06/1916||IV D 9|
|CAPTAIN R. L. PILLMAN||QUEEN’S OWN (ROYAL WEST KENT REGIMENT)||23||09/07/1916||IV D 10|
On the evening of 24th June 1916, after a quiet day in the trenches, the Germans began a bombardment of the Queen’s positions not far from here. Eight men buried in Plot IV tell the tale of that night, as does the Battalion War Diary (courtesy of the Surrey History Centre):
The final three burials in the cemetery, left to right:
|CORPORAL W. H. JENKIN||THE QUEEN'S (ROYAL WEST SURREY REGIMENT)||29||21/07/1916||IV E 1|
|PRIVATE W. CLEVERLEY||WILTSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||21/11/1916||IV E 2|
|PRIVATE A. KIRWIN||SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||26/01/1917||IV E 3|
Update December 2016: Almost exactly four years after I first published this post, I am now fortunate enough to be able to add a face to a name (big thanks to Ian Newman – see the comments section at the end of the post):
This is Corporal William Henry Jenkin, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), photographed in early 1916 with his wife Selina and new baby William Ernest.
Brothers in Arms: In an earlier photograph Will stands at the back, staring straight into the camera, along with his brothers, from left, Fred, Percy & Ernie, all three of whom would survive the war.
In case you hadn’t realised, Will’s headstone is the one on the left of the three headstones three photos back.
Plot III, at the back of the cemetery, is made up of 22 men of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), who died between July and September 1915.
Plot III Row D, the final Buffs burials from September 1915.
Plot II consists of five men of the Suffolk Regiment, alongside three more Essex men, all buried here in July 1915. Plot III is in the background.
Should you ever visit Calvaire and should you decide to take a wander round the back of the cemetery (below), as I did, I suggest you take great care; the picture above doesn’t really show it, but there is a huge drop down through these trees that would do you serious damage were you to lose your footing. Anyway, time to move on. Still three more cemeteries to visit before the end of the tour.
Next stop: Motor Car Corner Cemetery.