Less than half a mile across the fields to the east of Seaforth Cemetery Cheddar Villa, we find one of the smallest cemeteries in the whole Ypres salient.
Bridge House Cemetery, another named after a nearby farmhouse, was begun by the 59th (North Midland) Division on 25th September 1917…
…and used for just five days until 29th September.
The Cross of Sacrifice, with the rebuilt Bridge House Farm in the background.
The cemetery contains just forty five burials, of which four are unidentified.
Bridge House, part of the German Second Line at the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, was captured on the evening of the first day of fighting, 31st July 1917. It was used thereafter as a dressing station before the cemetery was established here in September. Most of these men lost their lives during the Battle of Polygon Wood, which began on 26th September and was part of the second phase of Third Ypres.
The following photos take you across the cemetery from east to west, Row A in the foreground, Row B behind:
Here’s the Bridge House Cemetery Plan…
…courtesy, as always, of our friends at the CWGC,…
…although for obvious reasons,…
…you don’t really need it on this occasion.
Row A, Row B, and Row C. That’s all folks.
Of the three headstones in Row C, Rifleman Baker, on the left, was killed on 16th August 1917 during the Battle of Langemarck, and I suspect that his individual grave was here for several weeks before more burials were made nearby and the cemetery was created, as already mentioned, on 25th September. However, according to the CWGC website, and according to the inscriptions on their headstones, four other soldiers were killed, and presumably buried here, earlier in September; Privates Firth and Jackson of the Lancashire Fusiliers on the 6th, and Private Flynn and Corporal Guilduff, both of the The King’s (Liverpool Regiment), on the 20th.
And yet the Graves Registration Report Form (courtesy of the CWGC) clearly gives the date of death of Jackson and Firth as 26th September*. Something is wrong here. Either the headstone inscriptions are incorrect (they are visible in the previous photos), or the document is wrong. Which do you reckon?
*and could be interpreted as suggesting the same for Guilduff and Flynn. However, according to Nigel Cave in his book on Passchendaele, they were both killed during an attack by the 55th Division, which included the 1/7th King’s Liverpool Regiment, on 20th September. So it seems likely that their graves were already here, although some yards away from that of Rifleman Baker.
It surprises me somewhat that these graves weren’t moved to one of the larger military cemeteries after the war. Equally surprising, again as Nigel Cave points out, is the fact that the cemetery survived a further year of war intact.
But, personally, I’m glad these men were left undisturbed.
As we leave…
…what is that lying in the mud over there?
Frozen Flanders fields.
Next: St. Julien Dressing Station Cemetery, which is also The Road to Passchendaele Part Six, if you’re following that tour.