A little less than a mile north east of Bois-Grenier, our next stop sees us at Ration Farm Military Cemetery…
…by far the largest of the cemeteries we shall visit on this tour, and one of six cemeteries where we shall pay our respects in and around the town of La Chapelle-d’Armentières, not much more than a mile south east of Armentières itself.
In perpetuity tablet.
A reminder to sign the visitor book should you visit any CWGC cemetery.
Originally there were two military cemeteries here, on either side of the road, but after the war the 73 graves in the smaller of the two, Ration Farm Old Military Cemetery, were all moved across the road and can now be found in Plot VI, where we shall pay our respects later. Immediately on entering, the first plot we encounter is Plot VII, some of the headstones of which are visible in the photo above.
Plot I. Without further ado, here, courtesy of the CWGC, is the cemetery plan.
And a trench map. Four cemeteries are marked on it; White City Cemetery in pink, the two Bois-Grenier cemeteries in yellow and blue, and Ration Farm Military Cemetery in green. You’ll often see it mentioned that the Ration Farm cemeteries grew up at the end of a communication trench, but this 1917 map no longer shows any signs of one that I can see.
The grave of a single German (one of four German burials in this cemetery) killed in 1917, with Plot I beyond. The cemetery, originally, as you may have guessed, known as Ration Farm New Military Cemetery, was begun in October 1915 and continued in use, with the occasional gap, until mid-October 1918. After the war it was greatly increased in size when men were brought in from isolated battlefield graves and from several small nearby cemeteries.
Looking north west across the cemetery from the south east corner, the German grave in the left foreground. Most of the original burials are to be found in the plots nearest the camera in this shot.
Near the centre of the cemetery we look west at the Cross of Sacrifice, Plot III to the left and the largest plot, Plot VI, to the right…
…and east to the Stone of Remembrance, Plot VI now on the left, and Plots III (nearest three rows to the camera) and V (furthest three rows from the camera) on the right.
Cross of Sacrifice.
This is Plot VIII…
…where more than one hundred of the graves are unidentified.
There are a number of special memorials to men ‘believed to be buried in this cemetery’…
…including this one, to Captain Bertram Lawrence of the East Yorkshire Regiment, killed in October 1914, in the north west corner ‘near Plot VIII’, according to the CWGC Casualty Details List.
Looking south down the western boundary of the cemetery towards the cemetery entrance in the distance, Plot VIII nearest the camera.
Panorama from the north west corner.
Looking from north to south down the cemetery, the four rows of Plot VIII on the right, and Plot VI Row A on the left.
Above & below: View across the headstones of Plot VI, by far the largest plot,…
…from the north east corner of the cemetery.
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in Plot VI, with some of the 259 Australians buried here in the rows behind. Nearly fifty of these Australians lost their lives in the attack on Fromelles on 19th July 1916 (we shall be touring the Fromelles area in 2016), were originally buried in individual graves on the battlefield, and then moved here post-war.
Above & below: Seven more special memorials to men ‘believed to be buried in this cemetery’.
Views looking from south west (above left) to north west (below right) across the cemetery from the eastern boundary. All enlarge if you click ’em.
As is so often the case with cemeteries that were greatly increased in size after the war, of the more than 1300 men who now lie in here, more than half are unidentified.
Time to move on. Next stop, the much smaller Desplanque Farm Cemetery.