A wet afternoon, just a few hundred yards east of the Menin Gate, finds us at Menin Road South Military Cemetery.
The cemetery was begun in January 1916 by the East Surrey and the South Staffordshire Regiments and was used continuously until the summer of 1918, after which the front lines moved far to the east as the Germans retreated during the final few months of the war. Unlike many of the other cemeteries we have visited recently, this one had remained in British hands throughout the war; the German advance in the spring of 1918 had got no further than Hellfire Corner, a short distance east of here. An Advanced Dressing Station was located nearby, and many of the men who died there are buried in this cemetery.
Above & below: Waterlogged graves of men killed in September 1917 in Plot II Row B…
…and in Plot II Row A1. Note the photograph left at the base of Private Walters’ headstone in the centre of the picture.
The lone grave of Serjeant W. Brook (see below) with the headstones of Plot II beyond.
After the war many isolated graves such as this were brought here from the battlefields to the east.
|SERJEANT W. BROOK||ROYAL ENGINEERS||u/k||10/11/1914||III A 1|
To the right of Serjeant Brook these four graves are also post-war re-interments. The two to the left are among the 119 unidentified burials in the cemetery. The two Hussars to the right are, left to right:
|PRIVATE P. J. CURRAN||4th (QUEEN'S OWN) HUSSARS||17||06/05/1915||III A 4|
|PRIVATE F. ROGERS||4th (QUEEN'S OWN) HUSSARS||u/k||06/05/1915||III A 4|
The Stone of Remembrance stands in the north west corner of the cemetery at the head of Plot III. The cemetery plan, courtesy of the CWGC, shows you that there are just three, albeit large, plots here.
Looking east towards the Cross of Sacrifice from the Stone of Remembrance. Plot III is to our right, and the graves we have just visited are those nearest the camera to the left. Beneath the hedge you can see a row of special memorial headstones, and these we shall visit next.
Above & following photos: On either side of the cemetery entrance, two Duhallow Blocks commemorate 54 men who were buried in Menin Road North Military Cemetery, once situated on the north side of the road here, but whose graves were lost in later fighting. The headstones behind remember each man by name. Used by field ambulances from May 1915 to August 1916 (and again, briefly, in 1917 & 1918), Menin Road North once contained 130 British, Canadian and Newfoundland burials.
Note the three Newfoundland Regiment headstones in the picture above left.
View from near the north east corner of the cemetery looking west along Plot I Row T, with Row U to the right and one of the Duhallow Blocks and memorial headstones furthest right. Among the men buried in Row U are a number of Australian tunnellers, killed just east of here on 18th September 1917 when the truck in which they were travelling while taking supplies up to the front line near Hooge was hit by a shell at Hellfire Corner. Twenty three men were killed or wounded in the blast.
Panoramic view from the north east corner looking across Plot I.
Down in the south east corner, some of the first burials here were these two East Surrey men on the left of the front row, and the South Staffordshire burials on the right of the row behind. Front row, left to right:
|LANCE SERJEANT T. HILL||EAST SURREY REGIMENT||u/k||07/01/1916||I B 1|
|PRIVATE H. E. HERNAGE||EAST SURREY REGIMENT||u/k||07/01/1916||I B 2|
|CORPORAL R. W. BENNETT||THE RIFLE BRIGADE||25||10/01/1916||I B 3|
Looking across the whole cemetery from behind the two Surrey graves (just visible far right) pictured in the previous picture. The total number of burials or commemorations in this cemetery exceeds 1600.
Five Grenadier Guards in Plot I Row E, all killed in early May 1916.
Westerly view across Plot II.
Private Fred Wykes – clearly not forgotten. Canadian units used this cemetery whilst holding the line from Hooge to Hill 62 and further south to Mount Sorrell between the spring and autumn of 1916, as you will already know if you joined Baldrick and me on our recent visit to those areas.
|PRIVATE F. WYKES||60th BN. CANADIAN INFANTRY||24||21/04/1916||I M 30|
Three artillerymen, all killed on the first day of February 1917. In the background, more Canadian burials. Front row, left to right:
|SECOND LIEUTENANT S. A. DICKSON||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||01/02/1917||I Q 19|
|DRIVER S. HART||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||21||01/02/1917||I Q 20|
|GUNNER F. W. GOSLING||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||01/02/1917||I Q 21|
The grave to the far left is unidentified; the others are all of men killed later in 1917. Left to right:
|CAPTAIN M. VARDY||TANK CORPS||21||27/08/1917||I L 31|
|LANCE CORPORAL R. J. LITTLEJOHN MM||AUSTRALIAN ENGINEERS||u/k||22/09/1917||I L 32|
|CORPORAL G. BLYTH||AUSTRALIAN ENGINEERS||u/k||04/10/1917||I L 33|
This lone unknown German is buried between two Australians in Plot II Row G. Somebody’s husband, somebody’s son.
More Australian burials from September and October 1917. The headstone in the centre of the photograph, that of Lance Corporal C. S. Smith MM, is interesting in that the personal inscription at the base mentions the place of death, which is quite unusual. It’s rather unfortunate that Zillebeke has been misspelled!
|GUNNER F. X. WALSH||AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||17/10/1917||III J 1|
Plot III Row I.
Plot III. Row I, which contains a number of New Zealand burials from late 1917, is again nearest the camera.
Above & below: These views look east down the rows of headstones in Plot III. You can imagine how appalling conditions must have been here during the winter months all those years ago.
Above & below: Plot III and the western boundary of the cemetery.