If you were to travel some seven miles or so, as the crow flies, due east of the city of Ieper (Ypres), you would find yourself amidst the battlefields of late 1918, when British, French & Belgian troops were pushing the Germans back from their long-held positions around the Salient. Consequently there are a handful of seldom-visited CWGC cemeteries and burial plots to be found in the area, and Baldrick & I thought it only right and proper that we pay our respects to these men who lost their lives in the final few weeks of a long war.
Over the next few months we shall bring you the results of our travels, and we begin with by far the largest of the cemeteries we shall visit, Dadizeele New British Cemetery.
A winter’s day in Dadizele. It snowed last night, and it is bitterly cold today. Amidst the various singposts (sorry, we didn’t go to Dadi Park, whatever that might be) a CWGC sign points the way to Dadizeele New British Cemetery*. You will note that one of the other signs points to Ledegem, where at a later date we will visit another, somewhat unusually situated, CWGC cemetery.
*Dadizeele is now known as Dadizele, and Dadi Park, it turns out, is an abandoned amusement park, which sounds eerily interesting, so perhaps we should have paid it a visit.
The Basilica of Our Lady in the centre of Dadizele, heavily shelled in the First World War, damaged again during the Second, and now rebuilt so you’d never know the difference.
Dadizeele New British Cemetery is a post-war cemetery, started when graves from smaller burial grounds in the area, and from the surrounding 1918 battlefields, were brought here for reburial after the war. There are just over 1000 burials, and all, except for a handful from 1914, date from September to November 1918. It’s worth remembering that the British suffered a staggering 350,000 casualties between the beginning of August 1918 and the end of the war in November.
The Cross of Sacrifice in the western corner of the cemetery.
View from just inside the cemetery entrance looking south west across the headstones of Plot I. The Cemetery Plan, courtesy of the CWGC, can be seen here.
More views of Plot I (the first five rows), with Plot IV beyond (above & below).
Panoramic view from near the cemetery entrance looking south.
Special memorials along the cemetery’s eastern boundary to the memory of three men, two of whom were prisoners of war, who were originally buried in Waterdamhoek Military Cemetery & Deerlyck German Cemetery,…
…but whose graves were subsequently lost.
The Stone of Remembrance. Beyond are more special memorial headstones that we shall visit in a moment (see picture below). The building to the left is in the adjacent Dadizele Communal Cemetery.
Special memorials to seven men known or believed to be buried in this cemetery.
Major Geoffrey Sowter, third headstone from the right in the previous picture, and clearly not forgotten.
Register box and seat.
This large German bunker now forms part of the southern boundary of the cemetery.
North westerly view taken from the same spot as the photo above, showing Plot III in the foreground and the Cross of Sacrifice in the right background.
Looking west across the headstones of Plot III…
…and south across the same headstones, with part of Plot VI in the right background.
Black Watch graves in Plot VI.
North east view from Plot VI, with Plot III beyond, the bunker on the right,…
…and the Basilica in Dadizele on the horizon.
Plot VI (above) and Plot III (below).
Headstones in Plot II.
Looking west across the headstones of Plot I, with Plot IV beyond.
Two unknown Royal Air Force Lieutenants at the start of Plot I Row C.
Southerly view across Plots IV (nearest camera), V, and in the background, Plot VI.
Back at the Cross of Sacrifice looking south east across much of the cemetery. Plot IV is nearest the camera.
Cross of Sacrifice, winter’s sky.
A beautiful day, but too damned cold. Let’s go, Balders old chap; I suggest we return to visit Dadizele Communal Cemetery, where 29 British soldiers (two are Second World War casualties) are buried, another day. Preferably a warmer one.
To find out whether we did, click here .