A Tour of Zillebeke Part Five – Hedge Row Trench Cemetery

Our journey continues east until we reach the little village of Verbrande Molen.  Here, our road turns south beneath the low range of wooded hills, known as the Bluff and fought over almost continuously for much of the war due to the close proximity of the front line trenches, that we saw in the distance way back at Bedford House Cemetery.  After little more than, a mile a left turn brings us to a conveniently situated car park, from where a ten minute stroll through the trees reveals a clearing, and the first of the three cemeteries located in these woods; Hedge Row Trench Cemetery.

Hedge Row Trench Cemetery is unusual in that every headstone here is actually a special memorial.  Being so close to the front lines, and, as its name implies, being the site of a British trench that undoubtedly the Germans were well aware of, the cemetery was so devastated by shellfire that after the war it proved impossible to identify the individual burials that lay here.  The names of the dead, however, were known, and special memorial headstones were erected bearing the inscription ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’ and placed around the Cross of Sacrifice in the manner you can see in these photographs.

Hedge Row Trench Cemetery entrance.  The cemetery, which at the time of its use was also known as Ravine Wood Cemetery, was begun in March 1915 and used until August 1917.  You can see the Cemetery Plan, courtesy of the CWGC, here:

Hedge Row Trench Cemetery Plan

View looking north east along the eastern wall of the cemetery towards the cemetery entrance.  Row A is on the right.

Rows H (right foreground), F (far left), and G (background, lining the wall).

Row E, with two London Regiment graves at the end of Rows D (left) and F (right) nearer the camera.


Closer view of the headstones in Row E.


Three First Surrey Rifles graves in Row D (left photograph) with Row C behind, and a closer view of headstones in Row C (right photograph).  You may have noticed that many of the headstones in this cemetery bear the inscription ‘Their glory shall not be blotted out’, a line chosen by Kipling and taken from the Book of Ecclesiasticus (as indeed was the better known line – ‘Their name liveth for evermore’ – that he chose to be inscribed on Lutyens’ Stone of Remembrance in the larger CWGC cemeteries).

View looking south with Row F in the foreground.

Row G along the wall, Row H (left foreground) and Row F (left background).  Our next destination is just a couple of hundred yards down the grass corridor between the trees in the background.

Au revoir, but not quite goodbye, to Hedge Row Trench Cemetery (we shall pass this way again on our return journey), as we make our way towards the next cemetery on our agenda; 1st D.C.L.I. Cemetery, The Bluff.

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6 Responses to A Tour of Zillebeke Part Five – Hedge Row Trench Cemetery

  1. Malcolm Jones says:

    I have just found my uncle,s final resting place, Hedge Row trench cemetery. Walter Alfred Stokes S/9892 3rd bn Rifle Brigade. Killed in action on 29 October 1915 age just 17 years.
    Do you have any further information or guidance that would assist me in finding out about his last days.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Malcolm, just in case you hadn’t noticed, your Uncle’s headstone is third from the left in the sixth photograph (click it to enlarge). How sad that he was only 17 when he was killed. See whether you can find his Medal Index Card at the following link: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/medals.asp. You could also see if you can find the 3rd Bn Rifle Brigade War Diary (check online or again try the National Archives) which should give you an idea of what was happening at the time of his death (although it is unlikely he will be mentioned by name). Hope that helps.

  2. Liesbeth Sobry says:

    Dear Malcolm

    I am the educational worker at the visitors centre of the provincial domain De Palingbeek, in which Hedge Row Trench Cemetery is situated. I found your comment here, thanks to one of our guides. I’ve been looking for a long time for a relative of Walter Alfred Stokes, a portrait of himself or some more information. Walter Alfred Stokes is very important to us, because we have several modules for schools that concern his life and his person, and that are dedicated to him. Could you sent me your email adress to Liesbeth.sobry@west-vlaanderen.be? I will then sent you a film that has been made a few weeks ago. A school with 220 children came to De Palingbeek, and spent the whole day walking through the domain, in the footsteps of Walter, we ended the tour on Hedge Row trench cemetery, where each one of the children laid down a poppy in front of his headstone, singing ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’. It was a very special moment and I would really like to sent you this film.

    Thanks in advance.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards.
    Liesbeth Sobry
    057 23 08 43
    visitors center De Palingbeek
    Vaartstraat 7 8902 Zillebeke-Ieper

  3. Steven Hearnden says:

    Magicfingers, Malcolm Jones is my father in law and you will be pleased to know that a formal memorial ceremony was held at the Cemetery on the 29th October 2015 to commemorate 100 years since Walter’ sad death. The ceremony was indeed attended by Malcolm’s family, Liesbeth and the local school children.

  4. Magicfingers says:

    Steven, thank you so much for letting me know. It’s very good of you. And yes, I am delighted to hear it. I have a major smile on my face!

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