Directly across the road from La Brique Military Cemetery No.1, La Brique Military Cemetery No.2 is far larger, and was in use for much longer, than its neighbour.
Just inside the entrance, the Cross of Sacrifice.
Looking north along the eastern boundary from near the cemetery entrance, part of Plot I Row U in the foreground,…
…and north west across the cemetery from the same spot.
The first burials were made here in February 1915, and the cemetery was in use until the end of July 1916 after which, for some reason, it remained unused for more than ten months until 7th June 1917, which you will know, if you’ve followed this site for a while, was the opening day of the Battle of Messines. I cannot tell you for certain whether the men killed that day and buried here were casualties of the battle, which of course was taking place somewhat further south, but if not, the date is somewhat coincidental, don’t you think? Whatever, the cemetery was then used throughout the rest of 1917, and a few more burials were made here early in 1918.
Plot I, Rows X (left) & Y (foreground) in the south west corner of the cemetery. Note the South African graves in Row Y, all but one unidentified.
According to the CWGC, when the cemetery was closed in 1918 there were 383 burials here, this number being increased to 840 as battlefield graves were brought here after the war to be re-interred. I suspect that, for practical reasons, and similar to Cemetery No.1, burials were made along the road first and in time the cemetery expanded to the west. Here along the western boundary we are looking directly at the post-war Plot II (the three headstones in the right foreground are the start of Plot I Row X) where, of 123 men buried in five rows, only fourteen are identified.
All will become clear if you check out the La Brique Military Cemetery No.2 Cemetery Plan, as always courtesy of the CWGC.
Looking east, Plot I Rows X & Y again in the centre and right foreground, Plot II Row E (left) and Row D (far left).
Looking east towards the road along the headstones of Plot II Rows B (left) & C.
This view, looking south, the western boundary on the right, shows how close to Ypres we are at this point, the spires of the Cloth Hall and St. Martin’s Cathedral clearly visible in the distance.
Apart from the five rows that make up Plot II, all the other headstones throughout the cemetery are in Plot I, which was itself considerably enlarged after the Armistice.
Diagonal view looking roughly south east across the cemetery from near the north east corner…
…and looking east (above) and north (below) across the headstones at the northern end of the cemetery.
In the north eastern corner of the cemetery there’s a headstone that we ought to visit while we are here.
This is the grave of Corporal Alfred George Drake, killed on 23rd November 1915 during the action which would win him a posthumous Victoria Cross.
The citation, from the 21st January 1916 edition of the London Gazette, reads:
“For most conspicuous bravery on the night of 23rd Nov., 1915, near La Brique, France. He was one of a patrol of four which was reconnoitring towards the German lines. The patrol was discovered when close to the enemy who opened heavy fire with rifles and a machine gun, wounding the Officer and one man. The latter was carried back by the last remaining man. Corporal Drake remained with his Officer and was last seen kneeling beside him and bandaging his wounds regardless of the enemy’s fire. Later a rescue party crawling near the German lines found the Officer and Corporal, the former unconscious but alive and bandaged, Corporal Drake beside him dead and riddled with bullets. He had given his own life and saved his Officer.”
As a postscript to Corporal Drake’s story, the Rifle Brigade officer he rescued was Lieutenant Henry Tryon, later killed at Flers on the Somme in September 1916, and now remembered on the Thiepval Memorial. The photo above shows Plot I Row D (foreground), with Rows B & A behind (Row C is out of picture to the right).
Looking west from the road across the northern section of the cemetery…
…and from the same spot, this view looks south, the cemetery entrance and Cross of Sacrifice in the left distance.
Time to make our way back towards the entrance…
…past the Cross of Sacrifice…
…and a reminder from Baldrick not to forget to sign the Visitor’s Book…
…before we depart.
Trench map showing the hamlet of La Brique in the bottom left corner; today, the two cemeteries are sited just before the road splits (the road system here has changed little over the years, as a look at a modern map will show). Those of you who have read the recent Buffs Road Cemetery post will already be familiar with the northern section of this map.
Final view looking south towards Ieper, La Brique Military Cemetery No.1 on the left, and Cemetery No.2 on the right.