Pozières British Cemetery and, surrounding the burials, the Pozières Memorial.
Just south of the village of Pozières, on the main Albert-Bapaume road, the walls of the cemetery stand, fortress-like, by the roadside.
The facade is imposing,…
…the inscription above the entrance reading, “In memory of the Officers and Men of the Fifth and Fourth Armies who fought on the Somme battlefields 21st March to 7th August 1918 and of those of their dead who have no known graves.”
Inside, still imposing.
Close-up of the sculpture near the top of the northern side of the entrance archway.
On the very far left in the shot above,…
… this CWGC information board is well worth a read, outlining as it does the story of the battles around Pozières in 1916 and the later fighting across the Somme in 1918.
The cemetery is enclosed on three sides by the ninety nine panels comprising the Pozières Memorial,…
…inscribed with the names of more than 14,000 United Kingdom casualties, and a little over 300 South Africans, who died between 21st March & 7th August 1918 and have no known grave. The graves nearest us in this shot,…
…and this one, are the original wartime graves in what is now Plot II. The rest of the cemetery is post-war, mainly men killed in the surrounding battlefields in the autumn of 1916, as well as some men who died nearby during the later fighting in 1918.
As mentioned, the panels inscribed with the names of the missing can be found on three sides of the cemetery; this shot shows one of the South African panels (Panel 97) and first Addenda panel (Panel 98, nearest the camera).
The second Addenda panel, Panel 99, is the final panel; don’t be fooled if you read on other otherwise excellent websites that tell you there are 97 panels. They can’t have counted them. Or maybe the cemetery plan, available if you click here, fooled them.
Panel 91, inscribed with some of the names of the missing men of the Machine Gun Corps.
Private Andrew Brown Gellatly died on 18th April 1918, aged just 19.
Although nearly 2400 men are buried here, the cemetery is split into only four plots. This is Plot IV, and seven headstones from the right in the third row from the camera (exclude Row H on the very far left), buried next to an unknown soldier, is Sergeant Claud Charles Castleton, 5th Company, Australian Machine Gun Corps, awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery on 29th July 1916. His citation, published in the London Gazette on 26th September 1916, reads; “For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack on the enemy’s trenches the infantry was temporarily driven back by the intense machine gun fire opened by the enemy. Many wounded were left in “No Man’s Land” lying in shell holes. Serjeant Castleton went out twice in face of this intense fire and each time brought in a wounded man on his back. He went out a third time and was bringing in another wounded man when he was himself hit in the back and killed instantly. He set a splendid example of courage and self-sacrifice.” Castleton was one of many men born in Great Britain (his parents lived in Lowestoft in Suffolk) who had left these shores for Australia at some time before the war, and returned in uniform for King and country.
These views also pan across Plot IV…
…from the northern corner of the cemetery.
Panel 66, inscribed with some of the names of the men of the Manchester Regiment, of whom there are approximately five hundred in total, among the largest numbers from a single regiment on the memorial.
Private Joseph Percival Daysh, killed on 25th March 1918, aged 42.
Panel 63, one of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps panels.
The name on the photograph left at the bottom of the panel had so nearly been obliterated by the elements, and will have been by the time you read this,…
…but we know that this is Rifleman George Payne, killed on 21st March 1918, aged 19.
Panel 57, one of two Royal Berkshire Regiment panels.
Unknown Royal Berkshire private.
Cross of Sacrifice…
…and Stone of Remembrance.
Looking back towards the cemetery entrance, Plot III directly in front of us. Nearly half the total burials here, some 1400 men, are unidentified..
Panel 44, the first East Surrey Regiment panel.
Close-up of the Povey family picture seen in the previous photograph. Private Thomas Edward Povey was killed on 22nd March 1918.
A closer look at the names, however, reveals one of more than a passing interest to yours truly, as I happen to own this:
Private Reginald Leaton Neeld was a twenty one year old clerk from New Malden when he was conscripted into the British Army, joining the 3rd Bn. East Surrey Regiment in January 1917. The final German attempt to win the war before the arrival in force of the Americans tilted the balance irrevocably in favour of the Allies began on 21st March 1918, and Reginald’s date of death is given as between 23rd March & 5th April; he must have gone missing early in the fighting and by 5th April was presumed dead.
More East Surrey names on Panel 45, and below them the men of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Panels 35 & 36 (nearest camera) in the western corner of the cemetery, with the names of Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Cheshire Regiment, and the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Plot III (above & below).
Beautifully maintained, as always.
Panel 14 (above) & Panel 15 (below), inscribed with the names of the missing men of the Royal Scots & the Queen’s…
…and a single private of the Royal Lancaster Regiment at the very bottom. It seemed slightly curious to me that his name was centralised beneath the heading, as if he were the only Royal Lancaster man on the memorial. Which led to a quick CWGC check, and what do you know? Private Terence Goodier, aged 28 when he died on 20th June 1918, doesn’t appear anywhere on the memorial list or, just in case, the cemetery list either. Nor do any soldiers from the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. And here’s why:
Terence Goodier is buried in Radcliffe (St. Andrew) Churchyard in Lancashire, and has been there a considerable time, judging by these two documents. Although undated, they both appear to be no different to dozens of other IWGC burial and headstone reports from the immediate post-war years. All of which suggests he shouldn’t be on the memorial at all.
In mid-April 1918 the 1st Bn. King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment were attempting to hold the line on the La Bassée canal, some fifty miles to the north of Pozières and the Somme in general. Does anyone know if they were even on the Somme two months later in June? I wonder. I do know that they were on the Somme by September, but that is considerably after Private Goodier died. Whatever, I maintain that Private Terence Goodier’s name should not be on the Pozières Memorial, unless somebody can show me otherwise, because everything points to a soldier who was wounded, evacuated to Blighty, and who then died and was buried at home. Or something like that.
Funny how spotting one name whilst typing away leads to late nights and lack of sleep.
Panels 1, 2 & 3, in the southern corner of the cemetery. Panel 1 begins with the names of men from the Royal Marines, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and then a single name under the heading Commands and Staff; Brigadier General G. N. B. Forster, killed in action on 4th April 1918 at the head of his brigade of the 14th (Light) Division during the fighting at Villers-Brettoneaux, some eighteen miles to the south west of Pozières. Then follow the cavalry regiments; the Life Guards, Queen’s Bays & Dragoon Guards,…
…followed on Panels 2 & 3 by more Dragoon Guards, Royal Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys, 3rd Hussars, Queen’s Own Hussars, 5th Lancers, Inniskilling Dragoons & the 8th Hussars.
Take a closer look at the names of the men of the 7th Dragoon Guards on Panel 2. You will see the name of R. E. Brace in the centre column, and he too is of interest to me:
Private Reginald Ernest Brace, 7th Dragoon Guards (Princess Royal’s), came from Hereford, and was aged 28 when he was killed on 1st April 1918.
Above & below: Panning across Plot I from the southern corner of the cemetery.
Inside of the front facade. Twenty one special memorial headstones line the wall on this side of the cemetery entrance.
The CWGC website says there are 23 special memorials, the cemetery plan shows 22 marked along the wall here, and as I cannot see any headstones with two names in the previous two photos, either there are a couple of special memorial headstones elsewhere in the cemetery that are not marked on the cemetery plan, or something somewhere is slightly suspect.
Sculpture on the southern side of the entrance archway in close-up. Identical, I think, to the one on the other side.
Back at the entrance, looking directly up the centre of the cemetery towards the Cross.
Inside the arch,…
…inscriptions in English…
…guaranteeing this land in perpetuity as a resting place for those who lie here.
Time to leave Pozières, and indeed the Somme itself. Over the course of more than forty posts, we’ve explored a significant amount of the battlefield of July 1916, and some – just a few – of the many cemeteries, from Serre in the north to Montauban in the south. And we shall return, because the story of the fighting in 1918 around Villers-Bretonneux when the final German offensive of the war was halted, is a tale worth telling, and because Baldrick and I visited there last year in order to be able to tell it. In the meantime, however, we shall be heading briefly to Arras, and then back to Flanders. French Flanders actually, and the introduction of the Australians, following the travails of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, to the Western Front.