Wulvergem church. A single plot in the churchyard contains the graves of nine identified and four unidentified men, along with a row of twelve special memorial headstones commemorating 23 men buried here whose graves were lost in later fighting.
Wulvergem is situated about two miles nearly due west of Messines (now Mesen), and the men buried or remembered here were all killed between late October 1914 and early April 1915. There are now six cemeteries within not much more than half a mile of Wulvergem, and over the next few posts we shall have a look around five of them.
The churchyard is denoted by the red dot on this trench map from some time in 1918. Kandahar Farm Cemetery is just off the map along the road near the bottom left, the sites of St. Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery and the two cemeteries at La Plus Douve Farm you can roughly work out, and R. E. Farm Cemetery is just off the map following the only road north. Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, which, as I have yet to go there, we shall not be visiting, is a short distance off the map along the north-west road out of Wulvergem.
Rather than cram this post full of tables, you can see the names and details of the 32 identified casualties by visiting the CWGC website, where you will also find a photo of the graves of two unknown men of the Queen Victoria’s Rifles buried elsewhere in the churchyard that I was unaware of. The cemetery plan, courtesy, as always, of the CWGC, can be seen here:
The headstone in the background at the start of the row of special memorials is the only one with a single name inscribed on it, that of Private J. Price of the Cheshire Regiment, killed on 20th December 1914. All the other memorial headstones in the row (see following photos) each have two names (don’t be fooled by the three other headstones with just a single regimental badge) inscribed on them.
The headstones in the foreground in all the photographs are burials (as opposed to memorials) and include the four men whose identities are unknown.
The regiments of two of the unknown soldiers, however, are known; the centre grave in Row C is that of a man from the Royal Lancaster Regiment.
The identified casualties, surprisingly perhaps, are from a considerable number of different regiments:
|REGIMENT/CORPS||NUMBER OF IDENTIFIED CASUALTIES|
|11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars||2|
|King's Own Scottish Borderers||4|
|2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)||2|
|London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)||3|
|East Yorkshire Regiment||5|
|King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)||4|
|South Staffordshire Regiment||2|
|North Staffordshire Regiment||4|
The headstone in the foreground to the right in Row B is the earliest of the identified burials in the plot, that of Squadron Serjeant Major Harry Baker of the 11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars, one of two men buried here who died on 30th October 1914. To the left, the grave of an unidentified man from the Devonshire Regiment.
I suspect that all the men here were originally buried in three or possibly four rows, and that what remains today are the remnants of Rows A, B & C after shelling destroyed the remainder of the graves.
Above and following photos: Row A contains more burials from October and early November 1914.
All the special memorial headstones bear the inscription ‘Known to be buried in this cemetery’. Except that of Private J. Price whom we met earlier. His headstone is inscribed ‘Believed to be buried in this cemetery’, which is presumably why his individual headstone is sited at the far end of the row.
Have a good Christmas all. See you in the New Year.