As evening begins to fall and our tour nears its end, we find ourselves at the little cemetery of Somer Farm, on the north eastern outskirts of Wytschaete.
The cemetery was begun at the end of June 1917, used until March 1918, and then again in October 1918, and consists of just three long rows of headstones, with a number of special memorials along the eastern boundary in the background.
The Germans had built a concrete observation post and command centre within the farm buildings that once stood nearby, which the British then used as a Battalion headquarters after their capture in June 1917.
Private R. McKeown of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the headstone to the left in the picture above, was the first burial here, on 25th June 1917. Left to right:
|PRIVATE R. McKEOWN||ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS||19||25/06/1917||A 26|
|PRIVATE B. T. MOODY||YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT||35||02/07/1917||A 27|
You may have noticed that the two headstones in the background in the previous photo, and pictured above, are facing in the opposite direction. I have no idea why, and I suppose it doesn’t really matter, but there’s a reason for everything, and I like to know the answers. Left to right:
|PRIVATE R. SMITH||YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT||u/k||01/07/1917||B 34|
|PRIVATE H. MEAD||ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||08/07/1917||B 33|
Australian graves from December 1917 & January 1918 in Row B in front of the Cross of Sacrifice. The Australians took over from the British in mid-December 1917 and remained here until the Germans regained the whole Messines Ridge as they pushed west in April 1918.
More Australians, all men of the 53rd Battalion, killed in March 1918 and buried in Row A. I presume that the four men buried beneath the two headstones to the left were all killed together.
A lone Royal Irish Regiment burial from October 1918 in Row A. Slightly more than half the 91 burials here (just one is unidentified) were made in 1918, 28 in October alone.
Men of the Royal Garrison Artillery in Row A, killed in early October 1918.
Along the eastern boundary, these headstones remember five men who were ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’ but whose graves had been lost in later fighting. Left to right:
|SECOND LIEUTENANT R. P. SMITH||NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||28||05/08/1917||Sp Mem 1|
|PRIVATE C. H. GOODACRE||NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT||u/k||27/07/1917||Sp Mem 2|
|PRIVATE M. M. MORIARTY||55th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||u/k||12/03/1918||Sp Mem 3|
|PRIVATE F. A. D. WILKES||53rd BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||23||21/03/1918||Sp Mem 4|
|DRIVER A. BURGESS||ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY||23||05/10/1918||Sp Mem 5|
More 1918 burials in Row B. Left to right:
|PRIVATE R. N. WHITE||ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS||32||05/10/1918||B 6|
|GUNNER C. LOWDEN||ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY||u/k||09/10/1918||B 7|
Looking west down the length of the cemetery towards the setting sun.
We’re going to lose the light very soon, and we still have two more stops to make. Better be going.