250 yards east of St. Charles de Potyze, the final stop on our tour is Aeroplane Cemetery, so called because in 1917 the wreck of an aeroplane lay near to where the Cross of Sacrifice now stands.
On entering the cemetery, on each side of the entrance there are four headstones, special memorials to men ‘known’ or ‘believed to be buried in this cemetery’, but whose graves were lost in later fighting. The four above are to the west of the entrance. Left to right:
|PRIVATE W. J. PLUMMER||MIDDLESEX REGIMENT||27||01/08/1917||Sp Mem 1|
|LANCE SERJEANT W. H. REDLEY MM||NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT||27||01/08/1917||Sp Mem 2|
|RIFLEMAN A. G. HARRIS||THE RIFLE BRIGADE||u/k||09/08/1917||Sp Mem 3|
|PRIVATE T. H. O'DONNELL||50th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||27||28/09/1917||Sp Mem 4|
This view, taken from in front of the special memorials in the previous photograph, looks south down the length of the cemetery towards the Cross of Sacrifice at the far end, the headstones of Plot VIII nearest the camera (see also the final photo in this post). Before we go any further, here’s the cemetery plan:
The four special memorials to the east of the entrance. Left to right:
|GUNNER T. FERGUSON||ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY||u/k||18/09/1917||Sp Mem 5|
|LANCE CORPORAL E. G. PADMAN||50th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||21||27/09/1917||Sp Mem 6|
|PRIVATE R. P. LEWIS||50th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||u/k||27/09/1917||Sp Mem 7|
|LANCE SERJEANT W. J. STINSON||50th BN, AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY||u/k||28/09/1917||Sp Mem 8|
The future site of Aeroplane Cemetery lay between the front lines prior to the start of the Third Battle of Ypres (or Passchendaele if you prefer), which began on 31st July 1917; it’s worth remembering, as you peruse these pictures, that we are standing in what was once No Man’s Land. On that day of initial success the British captured Frezenberg, some three quarters of a mile further east, and the first burials here were made soon after (in its early days, the cemetery was known as New Cemetery, Frezenberg). These headstones, with the eastern boundary wall behind, are in Plot IV.
Nine unknown burials in Plot II Row C. Of the 1095 burials here, 636 are unidentified.
Australian graves in Plot II Row B, of which just one, that of Lance Corporal John Eckert (see below), is identified.
The Stone of Remembrance, sited between Plot II (left) and Plot I (right) along the eastern boundary wall. The cemetery was begun in early August 1917 and used until March 1918, and then again after the British recaptured this area in September 1918.
The grave of Lieutenant The Hon. Albert Edward Keppel of the Rifle Brigade, son of the Earl of Albemarle, killed on 31st July 1917 aged just 19, with the plaque bearing the “in perpetuity” inscription we have seen so many times before behind to the right. In the background the road heads east towards where the German front line once ran.
The wartime burials were all made in what is now Plot I (foreground). After the war Plot I was expanded and Plots II to VIII added, mainly men brought in from battlefield graves, but also from two smaller burial grounds, Lock 8 Cemetery at Voormezeele, and Bedford House Cemetery Enclsure No. 5. The headstones in the background are part of Plot VI.
Cross of Sacrifice.
Looking west at the same headstones in Plot VI as we saw two photos previously.
Unidentified burials in Plot VI.
Looking back towards the Cross of Sacrifice from Plot VI, Plot I in the left background.
Over the western boundary wall, the spires of Ypres can be seen through the haze on the horizon. Across the field to the right, the cemetery entrance and the French and Belgian flags flying above St. Charles de Potyze Cemetery, where we visited last post, are also visible.
Two Canadian brothers* in Plot VI, joined up together, and killed together in April 1916. Left to right:
|PRIVATE T. MANNING||5th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRY||u/k||06/04/1916||III C 3|
|PRIVATE F. MANNING||5th BN, CANADIAN INFANTRY||uk||06/04/1916||III C 4|
*I’m making an assumption here, they could be father and son, for example, but there’s a man out there who will probably put me right. You reading this, John?
Looking north towards the entrance from between Row B (left photograph) and Row A (right photo) of Plot III, in the centre of the cemetery. Again, many of these post-war burials are unidentified.
These men of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, all sadly unidentified, lie in Plot VII. Beyond the cemetery wall, a few hundred yards away across the field in front of us, the British front line once ran from left to right across the picture.
Moving along the headstones of Plot VII, these Scotsmen lost their lives at the end of September 1918. Left to right:
|PRIVATE G. HAMILTON||HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY||u/k||29/09/1918||VII A 20|
|PRIVATE T. ADAM||HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY||21||30/09/1918||VII A 21|
|MAJOR A. J. COX DSO||ARMY CYCLIST CORPS - HIGLAND CYCLIST BN, attd HIGHLAND LIGHT INFANTRY||31||29/09/1918||VII A 22|
|A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR||ROYAL SCOTS|
The grave of Second Lieutenant Spencer Symonds in Plot VII, one of just two Royal Flying Corps burials in the cemetery.
Final view as we end our tour, looking south over the boundary wall down the length of the cemetery. The four headstones nearest the camera are the same ones we saw on first entering.