Just north of the garrison town of Tidworth in south east Wiltshire, Tidworth Military Cemetery contains burials from both World Wars, as well as later conflicts in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are more than 400 First World War burials here, the majority men who were killed in accidents at the training camps that were sited on Salisbury Plain during the war, or who died of illness at two nearby military hospitals, one in Tidworth itself and the other at Fargo Camp a few miles away to the west.
Oh, and yes, I lied when I said recently that this post would not appear on the home page. Tidworth Military Cemetery is an important, unusual, and relatively unknown place, and it deserves to be seen more widely.
The cemetery is divided into six plots, Plots B, D & F (nearest camera) on the left of the driveway, and Plots A, C & E (nearest camera) on the right, as the cemetery plan shows:
Tidworth Military Cemetery Plan (you will need to scroll down the page slightly)
The Cross of Sacrifice is located towards the western end of the cemetery. Note the information board on the left and the small CWGC tablet on the right. Close-ups later. Plot A, where our visit begins, can be seen in the right background.
But first, a trip around the Cross of Sacrifice.
In the spring of 2014, the CWGC erected around 100 of these information boards at various cemeteries throughout the U.K. to inform visitors about the World War casualties buried therein.
Plot A contains mainly burials from the First World War.
Quite a number of the headstones, scattered among the regulation CWGC ones, are privately erected, often by colleagues of the deceased.
There are 175 Australian First World War burials here, the earliest in June 1915, and the final one in September 1919. Private James Byrne, on the left, died of accidental injuries in January 1917. Private William Humphreys (centre, second row) died of sickness the same month.
45 of the Australians burials can be found in Plot A.
I know not the fate of the two men in the front row, but in the second row, Lance Corporal Hector Young died of pneumonia in December 1918, and Private Walter Russell died of sickness in November the same year.
Tidworth Military Cemetery was started in the early years of the 20th Century, before the First World War, and contains military burials right through to today. The earliest I can find is a Sergeant Charles Radford, Army Service Corps, who was buried here in September 1905.
Above & below: During the first few months of the war the cemetery was used only sporadically. These graves are two of just eighteen 1914 burials here.
Private Henry John Vaugham (Vaughan?) Percy Dove died of sickness in June 1917.
Rows of Australians in Plot A.
Driver Charles Hodge, on the right, died of sickness in January 1919. Private John Murphy, on the left, who died a week or so before the Armistice, perhaps shared the same fate.
At the time of my visit, I was unaware of the meaning of these small numbered markers scattered throughout the cemetery. We shall see more as we continue our tour, and later I shall explain what I have since discovered about them.
Sapper Herbert Larkin died of sickness in August 1916.
Corporal Linskey (left), of the Royal Warwickshires, is another of the 1914 burials.
I have no idea! On the CWGC Casualty Details List, by the way, you will find him under O’Connor.
Near the back of Plot A, Private Robert Byrne, the earliest Australian burial in the cemetery, died of sickness in June 1915.
More often than not, the Graves Register gives us no idea of the reason for death, but of the entries that do, sickness is by far the most common cause, as you will see as we visit the graves in Plot C. The headstone photographs without annotation are those of men whose fate is unknown.
…and to our left, Plot C.
Many more Australian burials are to be found in Plot C.
Private Thomas Walpole died of sickness in April 1917.
Private Samuel Veale (the CWGC Casualty Details List says Veall) died of sickness in September 1916.
Pioneer Desmond Fitzmaurice died of cerebro-spinal meningitis in January 1915.
Two men of the Australian Army Medical Corps, English-born Corporal Thomas Foster and Private Laurence Pearce, both of whom died of sickness in 1916.
Private James Dummett died of sickness in August 1916.
Private John Usher died of sickness in October 1916.
Sergeant Percy Osborne died of sickness in February 1917.
Lance Corporal John Andrews, of the Gloucestershire Regiment (left) is another of the 1914 burials. Private George Dean, right, one of only a handful of Canadian graves here, was accidentally killed in January 1915. In the row behind you will see another Canadian burial; Private Smollet died of cerebro-spinal meningitis in March 1915.
New Zealand graves in Plot C. More than a hundred New Zealanders were buried here between August 1916 and August 1919.
All the New Zealand burials, except a single World War II grave, are to be found in Plot C.
Above & below: Plot C, looking north from the drive.
Turning to our right from the previous photograph of Plot C, the final plot on this side of the cemetery is Plot E.
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed by now that, of all the graves we have visited so far, not a single one has been that of an officer. Unlike the cemeteries we visit on our tours through Flanders, the First World War officer burials are all located together here in Plot E.
Second Lieutenant George Martin was killed whilst flying on 28th (other documentation suggests 29th) November 1917.
Second Lieutenant James Clark (centre) was actually MM & Bar.
The non-World War headstones in all CWGC cemeteries are easily recognisable by the small cut in each corner.
Robert Archibald Storar was accidentally killed on 16th December 1915.
Second Lieutenant John O’Giollagain, Royal Flying Corps, was also accidentally killed in September 1917.
Second Lieutenant Harry Gough was killed whilst flying on 13th March 1918.
There are just five South African First World War casualties buried here, the other four across the road in Plot B on the south side of the cemetery. Lieutenant Godfrey Owen died of pneumonia.
Major Warren was another who died of sickness.
Second Lieutenant Fleetwood Daniel, Royal Flying Corps, was yet another accidentally killed whilst flying in December 1917.
Close-up doesn’t really help much, does it?
Second Lieutenant James Knight, York & Lancaster Regiment, was wounded in France in July 1917 and subsequently died in December that year.
A very brave New Zealander.
Major General Hamish Rollo, Royal Engineers, who fought in the first Gulf War, Bosnia, and Kosovo during the 1990s and 2000s, died of natural causes in March 2009. From what I have read, those who served under him over the years have only good words to say for him.
The grave of Captain Frederick Thompson, the only Indian Army officer buried at Tidworth.
Plot E. The grave on the right, nearest the camera (and photos below), is that of V.A.D. Nurse Mary Agnes Langdale, who was buried here with full military honours in February 1917, having fallen ill whilst working at Tidworth Military Hospital.
Next to her lies the wife of an officer, and although the headstone is very difficult to read, it is interesting to note that the inscription says “the believed wife of”. Hmm.
Plot E; the two graves we have just visited are nearest the camera.
And there are graves that I have no explanation for; Walter Francis West died in 1916 aged 54, but you will not find him on the CWGC Casualty Details List, and I have no idea of his military connection, although there presumably must be one.
Above & below: Final shots of the northern side of the cemetery…
…before it’s time to cross the road and visit the southern side.
There are only a few First World War burials on this side of the cemetery, all of which are in Plot D. The first headstones we encounter, however, are those of Plot F, the first section of which are all post-World War II burials. Those in the front row of the photo above, for example, are all from 1989.
I mentioned earlier that we would return to these small markers that you will by now have noticed can be found throughout the cemetery. As I pointed out near the beginning of this post, the earliest military burial took place here in September 1905, but in March that year, James Rglott, the son of Sergeant Rglott, was buried after just 20 hours of life, and over the years since, many more children from army families have been interred here. From what I can ascertain most now lie beneath these unnamed markers.
Men of the Parachute Regiment, killed in a training accident in December 1943 and buried in Plot F.
British and Polish graves, as well as an Italian, also in Plot F.
More Polish graves, and a few Russians, still in Plot F.
Plot D. All the First World War burials, apart from one, can be found on the far right of the plot (see below).
The other four World War I South African burials (front row above & below), and more World War I burials in the rows behind.
Above & below: Of the eight Canadian graves in the cemetery, seven are burials from 1915 & 1916. This lone Private was buried here in February 1919. One wonders what his story was, but I would suspect that by this date influenza was the most likely cause.
The final plot, Plot B, contains just a dozen Second World War burials, the remainder being post-World War II graves.
At the rear of Plot B, two burials from 1998.
And that is it. Well, almost.
Just inside the cemetery entrance, on the northern side of the drive, lie three Gurkhas who all died in a six month period during the winter of 1962 and spring of 1963.
To the right hand side of the entrance, a small Garden of Remembrance is set aside to receive the ashes of members of the Defence Services and their families.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is Tidworth Military Cemetery. Should you ever be in the area, go and spend an hour with these men. They deserve to be remembered every bit as much as the men we visit on our travels through Flanders.