British Military Headstones – The Rareties Part Two: Duhallow Blocks

Continuing our look at the special memorials one might find in British military cemeteries on the Western Front, this is what is known as a Duhallow Block.

Duhallow Blocks are, in effect, an up-market version of the ‘To the Memory of’ special memorials we saw at the end of the last post, similarly remembering men whose grave sites were once known but were destroyed in later battles, or sometimes were simply lost.  They tend to remember a larger number of soldiers than the ‘To the Memory of’ memorials (officially six or more, although I think the smallest number of men I have seen remembered on a Duhallow Block is the four on the block in the snowy photo at the start of this post), and they are always accompanied by memorial headstones to each of the men concerned, so the block in the shot above is accompanied by twenty seven headstones…

…as you can see here (note that there’s a second block and associated memorial headstones beyond the entrance in the background).

Duhallow Blocks always include the names of the cemeteries, often British, sometimes German, occasionally Belgian (as in the first shot, once again) or French, where these men were once buried.

Examples remembering eleven, ten, eighteen,…

…seventy, eight & twenty seven men.

Duhallow Block in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery remembering ten men, the memorial headstones lined up behind, the block itself in close-up centre below,…

…flanked by two more remembering twenty one men on the left, and seventy five on the right.  However, all rules tend to have exceptions.  If you enlarge this picture and look closely at the block on the right, you will see that this particular block is not ‘To the memory of’, but marks the actual graves of seventy five men – or at least the approximate graves.  A full explanation and photos of this particular cemetery can be found here, but an interesting point to note is that, whereas all the other Duhallow Blocks, you may have spotted, include Kipling’s words ‘Their glory shall not be blotted out’ at the end of the inscription, this one, being an actual grave marker, does not.

Duhallow Block remembering four Indian Army officers killed at Neuve Chapelle on 10th March 1915, and five other men killed in 1918,…

…and three more blocks remembering twenty six, thirteen & another twenty seven soldiers.

And finally, why are they called Duhallow Blocks, I hear you ask? Well, this is one of the first two that were erected (above & below),…

…and as both happen to be in Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, the eponym followed naturally.  Click the link, and you can see the other one.  Yet more unusual headstones next time.

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12 Responses to British Military Headstones – The Rareties Part Two: Duhallow Blocks

  1. Jon T says:

    Well that answers my question about why they are called Dunhallow Blocks !

    These do show the amazing lengths of commemoration that were gone to remember the Fallen even when their actual location had been lost or were unmarked individually and after four years of chaos on those battlefields too. Incredibly impressive and moving even after all the intervening years that separate us from those times.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well it would if they were called Dunhallow Blocks!! I’m kidding, but it’s one of those words – Duhallow – that sounds like it should have an ‘n’ but doesn’t. I must say that despite my many cemetery visits it has only been writing this series (which was originally never really intended to be a series but grew organically as I wrote it) that even I have realised how many different types of commemoration there actually are – more next post. Cheers Jon!

  2. Brian McTighe says:

    I recognise the Duhallow block on the fifth set of photos down. The first image is commemorating the lost graves of Middlesex soldiers in Abbey Wall cemetary. My great-grandfather could well have been one of those listed on the block but the roll of the dice left his grave intact. These are people who he would have served and suffered with in October/November 1914.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Very interesting Brian – your Great Grandfather is in Rue David, I think? You probably know this, but Abbey Wall Cemetery was only 400 yards or so south and a bit east of Rue David – there were two little cemeteries in the field there, south of the stream, the other being Abbey Grounds. Do you know how many were buried at Abbey Wall?

      • Brian McTighe says:

        Thank you. Indeed. I have walked along the length of the old Abbey wall at La Boutillerie using a trench map as guide but there is no trace off the wall only the entrance to the destroyed Abbey. Coincidentally, I have been researching another great grandfather, Pte James Bannister of the 7th Worcestershire who was badly wounded in the Battle of Fromelles. Which is barely 2km away. From that battle are a lot of Australian victims who are buried in Rue-David along with my other great grandfather. James Bannister was later sent to Italy where he was awarded the Military Medal in early November 1918, just before the Austrian surrender.

        • Magicfingers says:

          I trust you have read the Fromelles series elsewhere on this site…….? I would love to visit the Italian front one day, particularly as some of my local mob, the Surreys (can’t remember off hand which) were in Italy later in the war.

  3. Brian McTighe says:

    Sorry. I’ve just seen your other question asking if I knew how many were buried at Abbey wall. I don’t know I’m afraid, possibly the CWGC would know from archives. I have seen the GRU reports that are produced on a search for my Great Grandfather and I think there were 5 graves on that page. I could do a bit by bit search with known burials from Rue David and try to get an estimate. I am not sure if other cemeteries contain graves from Abbey Wall. I’m guessing most burials at Abbey Wall are identified because it was early on in the war and was right on the front line so it was closed quite quickly. I will try to have a go at researching it. Cheers.

  4. Brian McTighe says:

    Afternoon Magicfingers,
    I looked on the CWGC website and it has done the work for me. This is an extract.

    The cemeteries from which graves were brought to Rue-David Military Cemetery included the following:- ABBEY WALL CEMETERY, LA BOUTILLERIE, FLEURBAIX, under the North wall of the ruined Chartreux Abbey. Here were buried 60 soldiers from the United Kingdom (including 46 of the 1st Middlesex who fell in October and November 1914), five from Canada and five from Australia.

    Perhaps the remaining four were French.

  5. Magicfingers says:

    Afternoon Brian! Doh! I should have thought of checking myself. Anyway, thank you for the info.

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