We are now a little over a mile west of Wytschaete, in an area that was just behind the British lines when the Battle of Messines began. Our next stop, Irish House Cemetery, is just a short distance north of the main road at this point, as the signpost confirms.
Note the shells visible in the windows of this house on the main road (above & below).
Above & below: The cemetery entrance is down this grass path, alongside a field that serves as yet another reminder of the conditions frequently faced by soldiers of both sides during the war in Flanders fields.
This little cemetery was begun by the 16th Irish Division at the start of the Battle of Messines. Two of the memorials we saw in the previous post, you will remember, commemorated the men of the 16th Division. There are just five rows of headstones here, the majority from 1917; nearest the camera are the two final burials, both from early September 1918.
No less than 31 of the 77 identified burials here lost their lives on 7th June 1917, the first day of the battle.
|SECOND LIEUTENANT W. BARRIE||KING'S OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS||37||07/06/1917||A 15|
|LANCE CORPORAL J. SCOTT||BORDER REGIMENT||32||07/06/1917||A 16|
Unusually, you will notice a second name on Lance Corporal Scott’s headstone, that of his 20 year old brother, Private W. Scott of the Border Regiment, killed on 30th November 1916, whose name appears among the 72,000 missing on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme.
These three men of the Sherwood Foresters, were, I suspect, all killed together on 16th June 1917.
|PRIVATE F. BOND||NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT||u/k||16/06/1917||A 3|
|SERJEANT F. CLAYTON||NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT||u/k||16/06/1917||A 4|
|PRIVATE H. STRICKSON||NOTTS & DERBY REGIMENT||33||16/06/1917||A 4|
Three more of the Irishmen killed on the 7th June 1917.
|SERJEANT W. WATERS||ROYAL IRISH REGIMENT||u/k||07/06/1917||A 5|
|PRIVATE J. O'CONNOR||ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS||u/k||07/06/1917||A 6|
|PRIVATE J. WRAY||ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS||34||07/06/1917||A 7|
Rows B (nearest camera), C & D. The single German headstone in the back row marks the graves of a number of German soldiers.
One headstone, thirty burials. These Gordon Highlanders were killed attacking Wytschaete back in December 1914 and were reburied here in June 1917 by the men of the 16th Irish Division.
Row A, with the single headstone to the thirty Gordon Highlanders nearest the camera.
In total forty of the burials here, like the Irishmen pictured above, all killed during the Messines battle, are unidentified.
As we take our leave Mont Kemmel, or the Kemmelberg if you prefer, looms above the surrounding countryside, its strategic importance obvious. This, however, is the closest we shall find ourselves to it on this tour. Our journey now takes us south, to another little cemetery that we caught a glimpse of in the previous post.
Next: Part Three