Our final stop along this short stretch of the river is the communal cemetery in the town of Menen (yes, this was once called Menin, and yes, if you head north west from here some eleven miles you will find yourself at the Menin Gate in Ieper).
Menen was in German hands through most of the Great War, before its eventual recapture on 15th October 1918; on the wall inside the entrance, evidence of another German occupation.
View on entry. There are fifteen Great War burials in the cemetery, although at one time there were considerably more. Most were moved to Harlebeke New British Cemetery, ten miles away to the north east, after the war, but two original rows remain,…
…Plot III Row A (above) and the much smaller Plot IV Row A, I can only presume because of their position near the centre of the cemetery – the Germans used this cemetery, indeed extending it, during their occupation of the town.
Six of the first seven burials in Plot III Row A are men who died in 1916 whilst prisoners of the Germans,…
…the exception being the headstone third from the left,…
…which is the only World War II burial here, and yet another casualty of the fighting in May 1940 during the retreat to Dunkirk.
Private William Bullas, at the start of the row, is the only British soldier buried in the row,…
…the five other soldiers buried by the Germans all being Canadians (above & following).
The final Canadian burial is unidentified,…
…after which the five headstones at this end of the row are inscribed with names of men of the Royal Flying Corps, all of whom died in 1917 (close-ups follow).
Corporal Robert Dick Fleming, aged 22, was killed in aerial action on 26th January 1917,…
…and my educated guess is that Flight Serjeant W. G. Webb, killed the same day, was his pilot.
The GRRF shows that two of the five airmen were originally unidentified, but now both have named special memorials, inscribed with their names and ‘Believed to be buried in this cemetery’ at the top of each headstone, as seen below.
Both also share the grave reference of Plot III Row A 9/10 (above & below).
Captain Harley was a Black Watch officer attached to the Royal Flying Corps,…
…and the final actual burial, at the far end of the row, is also an attached officer, this man attached from the Royal Army Service Corps, although if you check the GRRF once more, you will see, in the left-hand column, it says A.S.C., as opposed to R.A.S.C. Why is that?
Well, at the time of this man’s death, there was no Royal prefix, which would be granted in 1918 – at least whoever checked the Grave Register (above) knew what they were doing.
Leaving Plot III, we need to find Plot IV,…
…which proves not too difficult, just the three headstones,…
…one man unidentified,…
…the other two both named. These two men died late in 1918, after Menen was back in British hands (above & below),…
…Gunner Harry Marshall being accidentally killed on 29th December 1918, aged 29.
At the far end of the cemetery this memorial mourns Belgium’s Second World War dead.
Following photographs: The graves of Second World War Belgian military casualties.
Civilian victims of the Nazis (above & below).
And as we leave the cemetery, our journey along the River Lys comes to an end.
… and there were bunnies. Legions of bunnies.
Bunnies galore Balders, bunnies galore. There’s a small posse of the blighters in one of the photos, if you look carefully.
Counting. Never my strongpoint. Fourth photo.
William Bullas from Chesterfield in Derbyshire of the Sherwood Foresters, died behind enemy lines after being wounded and captured two day earlier. He was aged 23, died on the 16/2/1916.
He was my Great Uncle.
My husband and I have visited there and what are cemetery it is. Seems so sad that he is so isolated there bless him and was the first buried there and was alone for the next four months.
loved reading all this and amazing very touching and proud.
Thanks for contributing Dena. A sad story indeed. Glad you’ve visited though.
Oh, we like you Joanne. And glad you like our little site.
Didn’t see the original M but this is definitely in keeping with your current style. Very informative. Find it so sad that these men are buried away from their comrades don’t understand when they were creating the larger cemeteries these men weren’t moved in with them.
Don’t know what the bunnies are doing there there isn’t any greenery for them? But nice to see them.
Excellent feedback M. That is just what I need to know. Bunnies like graveyards – there’s a churchyard in Cornwall I know that has been devastated by bunnies – and these chaps seemed happy enough, I must say.