Bapaume Post Military Cemetery is sited about a mile north east of Albert, immediately alongside the main road to Bapaume, some eleven miles away.
Above & below: Cemetery entrance.
On entering the cemetery, along the eastern boundary wall we find these special memorials to three men killed in the fighting in August 1918 as the tide of war irrevocably turned, all known to be buried among the unidentified men who lie here, although the exact position of their graves is uncertain. The view beyond is worth noting; in the summer of 1916 the front lines crossed the Albert-Bapaume road a short distance north of here. As you can see, the road rises slightly, before dropping down to La Boisselle beyond the horizon. It’s not much of a rise, but enough to keep advancing men, and men burying their comrades, out of line of sight of the Germans. The difference being that many of the advancing men only had a few minutes to live. This cemetery is a battlefield cemetery, begun on 1st July 1916 as the initial attack on La Boisselle faltered and failed, and the advancing men died.
This trench map from April 1916 shows the position of the cemetery (in green), just to the west of Tara Hill, and you can see from the contours how the ground drops down to the front lines at La Boisselle after crossing the Usna-Tara ridge.
And if the contours don’t help, then this view of La Boisselle from the Albert-Bapaume road, taken from the car later in the day and marked by an orange dot on the map, should.
As should this view, taken from the position of the British front line in La Boisselle, looking back up the same piece of road as in the previous shot, with Usna Hill to the right, and Tara Hill beyond the house on the left. It’s not difficult to imagine the carnage as the attacking British troops, in full view of the enemy once they crested the rise, were mown down by German machine gunners in their trenches not far behind us. But more of that next post.
Back to the cemetery…
The rest of Bapaume Post is split into three plots, Plot I (above)…
…and Plot III. You may not get a full tour of these Somme cemeteries, but at least you do still get a cemetery plan.
Bapaume Post was used for seven months until the end of January 1917, at which time, with the Battle of the Somme over and the German withdrawal in progress, it was closed down. By that time 152 burials, all in what is now Plot I (above, looking east back towards the cemetery entrance), had been made here.
After the Armistice many more burials were brought in from the surrounding battlefield, and Plots II (above & below) and III were created.
There are now more than 400 burials here, of which 181 are unidentified. The three identified Tyneside Irish (Northumberland Fusiliers) burials in Plot II Row N (above) are all men killed on 1st July and originally buried on the battlefield. Considering that at least two of the remaining seven unidentified burials in the row are also known to be Northumberland Fusiliers, one wonders whether some, or all, of these men were originally buried together but only three could be positively identified by the time they were re-interred here. Maybe.
Plot III on the left, Plot I in the background, and Plot II Row N on the right.
Cross of Sacrifice.
Views of Plot I from the north west corner of the cemetery looking south east. The Canadian burials nearest the camera are all victims of the fighting in November 1916 as the Battle of the Somme reached its conclusion.
Final view, Plot III on the right, Plot II in the background. Time for us to head up the road to La Boisselle.