From Dickebusch Lake to St. Eloi Part Two – Elzenwalle Brasserie Cemetery

There’s a pretty sight for you.

Yes, I know it’s a cemetery, but it’s pretty,…

…and there ain’t no denying it.  Unless you disagree, of course.

Marked in pink on this 1916 map, we are five hundred yards due east of our first stop at Ridge Wood (in green),…

…which is beyond the trees on the far side of the field in the background.  The CWGC website refers to Elzenwalle Brasserie as, and I quote, a ‘collection of small regimental burial grounds, of which Plot III in particular was made by the 22nd Bn Canadian Infantry’,…

…but this is actually a real hotchpotch of a burial ground, its eight plots, which contain just over a hundred burials from no less than thirty one British regiments (plus forty one Canadian casualties), having no apparent rhyme nor reason as to their position within the cemetery, nor any suggestion of chronological order, as the cemetery plan shows.

The first burial was made here on 8th February 1915 when a lone private of the Royal Scots was buried close to the side road that runs along the cemetery’s southern boundary.  By the end of March 1915 a further six men had been buried alongside him, making what is now Plot I Row C.  Twenty eight more burials would be made in the three months from April to June, but just two thereafter until October, only nineteen more before year’s end, and none at all at the start of 1916.  Fifty seven men were buried here between late March & August 1916, and the cemetery would then remain unused for seven months until April & May 1917, when nineteen further burials (mainly men of the Wiltshires killed in early April, and Royal Irish Fusiliers killed on 8th or 9th May 1917) would be added.  After which there would be just thirteen more burials between June and the final one, in early November 1917.

Across the road where these properties now stand there was once a brewery from which the cemetery gained its name,…

…because a brasserie is actually a brewery, as you likely already know, and if you didn’t, you do now.

Looking north from the cemetery’s south eastern corner, the headstones nearest the camera those at the start of Plot II Row A, the row continuing, after a gap, beyond the Cross.

As we pan left, the rest of the cemetery comes into view.  All the headstones in the mid-distance on the left of this shot are Plot I,…

…which is where we shall begin our exploration.  Its seven rows, which, due to several large gaps, run the length of the cemetery as far as Row G along the western boundary at the very far end, begin with the two burials in the right foreground here,…

…these two Monmouth Regiment privates both killed in mid-June 1915.  Beyond the first gap,…

…five of the six burials in Row B are men of the Worcesters killed between 5th & 13th April 1915, the other a single Royal Irish Rifleman killed a couple of days later.  The earliest burials in the cemetery, as mentioned earlier, can be found in Row C behind, the seven men buried in the row, from various regiments, all killed in February or March 1915.  The two rows are separated by the smallest gap in this somewhat rambling plot, with Row D some distance beyond,…

…these burials all from April & May 1915.  If you look between the two headstones furthest to the left, the single headstone some way beyond…

…is the furthest right of these three East Surrey privates who died in the summer of 1915 and who are now buried in Row E.  And again looking between the headstones at Row F behind,…

…this private is one of four men of the Suffolk Regiment in the row, all killed in June 1915.

Looking northeast from the cemetery’s south western corner, the six graves of Plot I Row F, all of whom are June 1915 casualties, nearest the camera, and behind us…

…the cemetery’s western boundary and Row G, the final row in Plot I, the eight burials including two of only a handful of unidentified men buried here,…

…and three of only seven British artillerymen, all three killed in 1917.  And while we are at this end of the cemetery,…

…August 1918 saw American troops replace the British between Kemmel village and the Ypres-Comines Canal, 30th Division (the orange line) to the north, around Voormezele, and 27th Division (light blue) to their south.  The front line, and the launch point for the Allied offensive on 31st August, can be traced running directly between the two cemeteries we have so far visited, Ridge Wood marked in green and Elzenwalle Brasserie in pink,…

…something like this.  You’ll find more about the actions of the two American divisions in the summer of 1918 on our visit to the U.S. Memorial (the dark blue dot on the map), which you can find here.

Continuing along the cemetery boundary, the next plot we encounter is Plot VII, here Rows C (foreground) & D, all but one of the burials from the latter months of 1915.

Once again turning round to look east down the cemetery, the remaining two rows of Plot VII, each of just two headstones, on the left.  The long row that stretches off to the right of the picture…

…and seen in the centre here, is Plot VI Row B, all men of the Wiltshires, Cheshires or Prince of Wales’s Own, their dates of death ranging from 1915 t0 1917.  In the foreground are the two headstones of Plot VII Row A, both Royal Sussex Regiment men killed on 29th October 1915, and, on the far left, the single grave in Plot VI Row A,…

…is that of Lieutenant Charles Bertram Underhill, West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), killed on 27th March 1916 aged 22.  Underhill was a Canadian who enlisted as a private in the 7th Bn. Canadian Infantry in September 1914, gaining his commission in early January 1915.

Plot V Row A, the longest unbroken row in the cemetery, nine of the eleven burials men of the East Yorkshire Regiment killed between 15th & 18th June 1915.  The two graves in Row B behind are both men of the Rifle Brigade who died on 1oth June 1915.

I know not the current name of the farm just beyond the cemetery, but in 1916, as the earlier map shows, it was known as Brasserie Farm.  The six headstones in the left foreground…

…make up the single row of Plot VIII.  Three of these men are Royal Fusiliers killed in mid-October 1915, the other three later burials from 1917.

And so we reach Plot III which, as mentioned earlier, contains only men of the 22nd Bn. Canadian Infantry, which undoubtedly qualifies it for the title ‘regimental plot’, the men buried in four rows along with a single unidentified man on his own at the back (Row E on the inset diagram).  Those buried beneath the three headstones of Row A in the foreground are the final burials in the plot, all three killed during the last week of August 1916,…

…and the rows behind trace the regimental deaths back through the summer of 1916 with the earliest, in Row D, from April that year.

Plot III is the largest plot in the cemetery, the rows split by a gap in the middle,…

…as shown on the earlier cemetery plan inset.

The names on these headstones betray the regiment’s heritage, the 22nd Battalion being the Quebec Regiment, which accounts for the plethora of French names on this GRRF,…

…and which brings us back to Plot II, where we began.  Plot II consists of the first two rows seen here, Row A, or at least its start, the row of eight headstones in the foreground,…

…some of the same headstones seen again here, with the first four headstones of Row B, the second row in the previous shot, clearer to see behind.  The burials in both are all from 1917, those in Row A in the foreground all from May, those in Row B behind from September & October.

Both rows continue after a gap, these the final four burials in each.

Nine of the twelve burials in Row A are Royal Irish Fusiliers killed in May 1915,…

…two of the others artillerymen,…

…and in the centre of this shot, in Row B behind, one of two 8th Bn. British West Indies Regiment casualties in the row (the other partly obscured by the Royal Irish Fusiliers headstone on the right).  By the end of the Great War, 185 men from the British West Indies Regiment had been killed in action, and another 1,071 had died of illness or disease.

As it turns out, these two men were among the 185 killed in action.  8th Bn. had been employed supplying working parties for Xth Corps Heavy Artillery since the beginning of October 1917, moving camp in mid-October from some three miles to the west of Dickebusch Lake, on the left, to the area marked with the orange circle (Ridge Wood & Elzenwalle Brasserie cemeteries in green & pink respectively).

A week and a half after the move, the 8th Bn. war diary records a number of casualties, two of whom were killed.  The date, 29th October 1917, matches the date of death of both our men in Row B,…

…as this GRRF shows, Privates Blanchard & Ballantyne today buried together at the end of the row.

Views looking across the cemetery from its north eastern…

…and south eastern corners,…

…and a final look from across the road.  Three quarters of a mile to the northeast of here, our trip continues in the village of Voormezele.

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6 Responses to From Dickebusch Lake to St. Eloi Part Two – Elzenwalle Brasserie Cemetery

  1. nicholas Kilner says:

    it is indeed a very pretty sight, hats off to the photographer ;-). Almost has the feeling of a churchyard about it, rather than a cemetery, if that makes any sense at all (and yes i know they’re generally one and the same, but they feel different somehow, or perhaps I’m just a bit different lol).
    Nice research on the BWIR casualties, not something you encounter very often. A very enjoyable read

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well said that man! Hats off indeed! Lol!
      Actually, I do keep a look out for BWIR burials – pity I didn’t notice these two at the time – hence the lack of close-ups of their headstones. There are some in one (or more?) of the Plymouth cemeteries.

  2. Morag L Sutherland says:

    Well I know the folk across the road from this cemetery.! Their white van features. I can ask about the name of the farm if you like? There had been a cafe /estaminet at the end of the block for sale bit crazy price so they didn’t extend their home that way. I have strolled the cemetery not many folk stop to visit. Thanks for the detail as always

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