Elsegem Churchyard & Roll of Honour

Elsegem is twenty eight miles almost due east of Ypres.

Well behind the German lines throughout the Great War,…

…it nevertheless has four British Great War burials in its churchyard,…

…and a single French burial too.

Private Pierre Marius Godio died on 6th November 1918.

The four British casualties are all from the Durham Light Infantry, two privates, a lance corporal and a serjeant…

…and all died between 30th October & 4th November 1918.

There is something even more poignant than usual about men who died in the final weeks of a war that had lasted more than two hundred, and of course that is quite ridiculous.  First day or last day, what’s the difference?  There is none.  And yet……

War memorial on the side of the church. A cautionary tale for all you researchers.  If you check the word ‘Preester’ it translates as ‘Pastor’.  So we apparently have another cleric here.

Except we don’t.  Remi De Preester (or Depreester), pictured on the left along with the four other men named on the war memorial, was actually a Soldier (2nd Class), and he was dead even before the British fought the Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914, killed on 18th August, fifteen days after Germany’s declaration of war on France.  French casualties during August 1914, incidentally, were horrendous – how about 27,000 men killed on 22nd August alone!

Excellent companions all.

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6 Responses to Elsegem Churchyard & Roll of Honour

  1. Graham Martin says:

    Michael Palin’s programme about the last casualties of the war was heart-breaking.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Oh yes Graham, indeed. Incidentally, if you check the CWGC database, 633 British service personnel died on 11th November 1918. The American Joseph Persico, who wrote ’11th Month 11th Day 11th Hour’ estimated just under 11,000 deaths in all theatres on that final day.

  2. Margaret Draycott says:

    Puzzled how they were left in this cemetery, being killed so late in the war would have thought they’d have been brought into one of the larger cemeteries. What were they doing there so far from the fighting. Need more info please M.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Ah, but these guys were not so far from the fighting at all. They were in the thick of it. Because the Elsegem area was roughly where the Allies had pushed the Germans back to by early November 1918 (The British reached Mons at the very end of the war – 11th November. Mons is about thirty miles south of Elsegem, and maybe fifteen miles further to the east). Which also explains why they are in a churchyard – there simply were no British cemeteries in the area, because of the speed of the Allied advance. I have no idea why they were not moved later, but there are plenty of Great War churchyard burials still on the Western Front.

  3. Margaret Draycott says:

    Ok right I understand a bit better now of course things moved quickly then not like the static warfare of earlier years.
    I have seen graves in churchyards when visiting but these just seemed lost and abandoned but at the end of the day, they are in cared for and looked after area.

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