We’re nearing the end of our Boesinghe tour now, just three posts to go.
Some 350 yards across the fields to the north east of Colne Valley, as we saw last post, and reached by way of a zig-zag grass path that leads us across the muddy fields,…
…Welsh Cemetery (Caesar’s Nose) is another little cemetery that was opened and closed in just a few months during the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.
The cemetery sits in No Man’s Land, between the British front lines as they were in the days before the battle began, and the small German salient known, for obvious reasons (see trench map coming up), as Caesar’s Nose.
Cemetery entrance. The German front line once crossed this field just to the right of the cemetery,…
…as you can see on this trench map, the cemetery marked in green, which also shows exactly why the name Caesar’s Nose was given to the protruding German trench system at this point.
This is another cemetery where quite a number of the men who lie within cannot possibly have been buried here on the day they died, ten graves bearing dates of death in the days immediately preceding the battle, and another eleven who were casualties of the opening day.
In fact you might say this is a cemetery of two halves; the men killed before or on 31st July, twenty one in all, all of whom would have been buried in the early days of August, and then the later burials. After the first burials only another nine men were buried here before 29th September, and then a further twenty one men before the final burial on 25th November. Here’s the cemetery plan.
Even though this is a small cemetery, the rows are split into two plots, all the headstones apart from the single row in the background along the boundary wall designated as Plot I, and the single headstone of Private Cecil James, Welsh Regiment, in the foreground, as Plot I Row D. The split row on the far left…
…is Plot I Row A, the headstones furthest from the camera…
…being those of four Royal Field Artillerymen, the second in line a Shoeing Smith, with one of the nine unidentified men buried in the cemetery at the far end of the row.
The other part of Row A contains men of the Welch Regiment & Royal Welch Fusiliers (above & below), including one of the first two burials in the cemetery, Private Owen Roberts (third from left), killed on 25th July (the other man killed on that date is buried in Row B).
Three others in the row were killed on 31st July, the remaining two at the far end killed on 27th July. As we have seen elsewhere, these men would have lain dead on the battlefield, or in shallow temporary graves, until it was safe to give them a proper burial.
The single row of Plot II,…
…and from the other end. All the burials in the row are men killed in September or October 1917. Beyond the unidentified soldier three headstones in, you will notice that the next eight headstones all bear the emblem of the Royal Artillery (below),…
…and all bear a date of death of 29th September 1917. You would perhaps automatically assume that their deaths occurred when their gun was hit, as we see in many cemeteries, but not these men. They almost certainly died together as a result of a German shell, but all eight men are R.F.A. drivers, and one wonders what they were doing at the time. Sadly, I picture them all sitting there chatting and drinking tea (which is not to say that drivers didn’t fight when called upon, but naturally it wasn’t their main job).
Plot I Rows B (nearest camera) and C, with the single headstone of Row D at the far end. This view looks towards the German lines in the field beyond, the trees the same as those we saw earlier from Colne Valley Cemetery.
All the burials in Plot I Row B are from July 1917, except two who died on 1st & 2nd August,…
…although here we once again encounter the same problem that we found at Dragoon Camp Cemetery, in that the Graves Registration Report Forms for Plot I Rows A & B (above & below) show just a single man with a date of death prior to 31st July, whereas the CWGC database tells us that ten of these men died between 25th & 28th July. Ironically Private Edwin Griffiths, in Row A, the one man on the above form with an earlier date of death, 27th July, is given a date of 28th July on the CWGC database.
Anyway, we’ll leave it there on this occasion.
The burials in Plot I Row C are from October & November 1917. All of which allows you to trace the making of this little cemetery by following the rows, which is quite unusual really; Plot I Rows A & B are exclusively burials from July & August, Plot II Row A exclusively September & October, and Plot I Row C exclusively October & November.
Cross of Sacrifice.
Another chance find – I always tell you, should you visit any of these cemeteries, to take a look over the side of the cemetery wall – you never know what you might come across. Remember we are right on the front lines here, and this is a roll of British barbed wire after an encounter with a plough. And yes, a couple of strands now reside in my collection cabinet.
Sunset over Caesar’s Nose.