The Advance East Part Five – Moorseele Military Cemetery

Just a few minutes drive east from Ledegem, Moorseele Military Cemetery is another burial ground now rather incongruously surrounded by a modern housing estate.



An alleyway between two houses leads to this small secluded grassy area, once part of the grounds of the Convent of the Holy Family which stood nearby.  The convent school was situated here and was used by the Germans as an aid post during the war; the associated cemetery was begun by them in 1915.

Cemetery entrance.

Moorseele was in German hands for most of the war, finally being liberated by the Royal Irish Rifles on 14th October 1918, later the same day that Ledegem (which, provided you have previously accompanied Baldrick and myself on our visit to Ledeghem Military Cemetery, you will already know all about) was itself recaptured by the Leinsters.

You can download the Cemetery Plan, if you so wish, from here:

Moorseele Military Cemetery Plan

Cross of Sacrifice.

98 British soldiers are buried here, the majority killed during the second half of October 1918, after the village had been liberated.


Above, left to right:


Pilot and observer, perhaps, brought down behind German lines and buried here in early 1917.  Note that they share the same grave reference numbers.  Left to right:

A 4

Some 800 Germans were once buried here, but in 1930 the bodies were exhumed and re-interred in the Geman Military Cemetery at Mesen.  When the first British burials were made here after the Germans had retreated in 1918, it’s worth remembering that the whole of the now-vacant space visible in the background of the photo above, and the foreground of the one below, would have been filled with German crosses.

A surprisingly high number of the men buried here had earned decorations.  Left to right:


Surrey men.  Left to right:


Why a Canadian Major was buried here in June 1916 I don’t suppose we’ll ever find out.  If anyone knows…? *


* Oh me of little faith.  See John’s comment at the end of the post.

Two more RFC men buried here by the Germans.  Again, I suspect, these two men were pilot and observer of a British two-seater.  Left to right:


At the beginning of Row AA lie three men, two from the Northumberland Fusiliers and one from the King’s, who were buried here within a few days of each other in  June 1915; I wonder what the story behind their deaths might be?  Perhaps a raid that went wrong?  Perhaps a raid that went right.  But not for them.  Left to right:


After the Armistice a number of graves were moved into the cemetery from Moorselele Churchyard, which was also used by the Germans until October 1917, and perhaps these three men originally lay there.


Two huge stone seats either side of the Cross of Sacrifice bear the inscriptions that dedicate this land to those who lie here ‘in perpetuity’.


Final view as we leave this little cemetery and head down the alleyway back to the modern world beyond.

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32 Responses to The Advance East Part Five – Moorseele Military Cemetery

  1. John says:

    At first memory June 8th was just a few days after the almost total destruction of a few companies of the PPCLI by enemy mines tunneled under their positions centre-left flank at the opening day June 2/16 of the Battle of Mount Sorrell which we discussed earlier under your Railway Dugouts page. Stop 🙂 I found it! Major Stanley Livingston Jones was severely wounded at Sanctuary Wood June 2, and fell into enemy hands. He died of wounds on the 8th June, and he was buried with full military honours by his captors. Likely evacuated to a divisional military hospital, and buried amongst the large numbers of German fallen buried previously at Moorseele.

    • Hello,

      I have written an article about the WWI cemeteries in Wevelgem (to which Moorsele belongs) and I am writing an article about the military hospitals in Wevelgem which is due to be published at the end of 2015. Both are in Dutch though.
      I have found a German war diary detailing the last days of Major Jones in Moorsele in the German field hospital (and even a picture of the funeral procession).
      He was indeed severely wounded and died although the German doctors tried all they could. He was buried in the German cemetery and after the war moved to the British post-war plot, which is now Moorseele Military Cemetery.

      Kind regards,
      Jan Vancoillie

      • Magicfingers says:

        Jan, thanks for posting your comment. My colleague who accompanies me on all these trips in Flanders speaks Dutch by the way, so I would very much appreciate it if you could let me know how I can get hold of copies of your articles once they are published. Thanks in advance.

  2. Magicfingers says:

    Oh yes! Nice work John. Nice work indeed.

    • John says:

      You did 98% of the work honouring the memory of these brave men sir. The clues of Major’s date of loss and his Regiment just by fate landed within an narrow band of my research based on the nearness in time and place to the loss of my great uncle James five days later in the same battle.

      A very good link below to the modern PPCLI regiment site description of the first hours of the battle and Major Jones part in it. They were 400 meters due North of the front entrance to the Canadian Memorial.

      • M Newsom says:

        Although this is long after the original query on Major Stanley Jones I will add a comment and thank you for this interesting site.

        Stanley Livingston Jones originally signed up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in August 1914. He was a well respected lawyer in Calgary and had participated in the Boer War landing in South Africa in November 1899. On his return he and others participated in the memorialization of the men lost in the Boer War by having a statue erected in the Central Memorial Park in Calgary. He and his first wife were original members of the Alpine Club of Canada.
        His second wife, Lucile Ross Jones where married less than a year before the war started. She would not sign her approval for him to enlist unless he agreed to let her travel to be near him in Europe which he did. That restriction of having wives permit husbands to enlist ended when men began to be conscripted in Canada. Stanley and Lucile wrote to one another and the transcription of those letters, which Lucile did in the 1930’s, have now been placed in the Princess Patricia’s Archives and are on line for people to read. It tells of the story of their loving relationship, attitudes to the war and her entry into a private hospital near Paris to be near her husband. The link to those tender letters is below which include the last days of their words to one another.

        • Magicfingers says:

          Well thank you for your kind words and for taking the trouble to comment and tell us a bit more about Stanley Jones. I shall read the letters in due course. You will notice there have been comments on this post in 2012, 13, 15 & now 18. It’s never too late. Thanks again.

          • Paul Sandy says:

            First of all thank you to magicfingers and all those who have contributed to this amazing resource. I have learned a lot from it.

            I am researching the 9 men named on our local war memorial for Rewe & Netherexe in Devon, UK. One of the men is Leonard Charles Moore who although from Devon had emigrated to Canada before the First World War. He then joined PPCLI and is in grave AA4 at Moorseele MC – next to Major Jones as discussed on this page.

            I have found a great wealth of online information about Moore, including what appears to be his complete service record. One thing leads to another though so I now have the following questions:

            1. Does anyone know if he was among the 5 men whose graves were moved from the churchyard to the MC? He died of wounds in the convent / hospital on 10 June 1916.
            2. Does anyone happen to have a photograph of his grave they might be willing to share with me?
            3. Does anyone happen to have or know the location of a photograph of Leonard Moore or of his unit they might be willing to share with me?

            I hope to publish the results of my findings in our local parish magazine, so please state if this is not acceptable in the case of any photos. I am doing this because it seems that no-one locally knows anything about the men on our war memorial and it seems only right that we should know something of their lives apart from the fact that they died in WW1. I will of course acknowledge sources of information, etc.

            With thanks in anticipation of any assistance.


            Paul Sandy, Rewe, UK.

  3. John says:

    Pardon my manners, I do thank you for the compliment 🙂

    • Magicfingers says:

      Likewise, good Sir. And the PPCLI site is a really useful resource, so thank you for introducing it to me; I have already shown it to a couple of colleagues of mine at work who have an interest in such things.

  4. John says:

    Totally off topic but, my youngest girl has asked if you could tell her the name of the cat you are holding in your icon picture? Cats are very important in her world, and she insists they all must be named. I honestly never saw the cat before today when I moused over the icon and it suddenly magnified. (I have the weakened eyes of an old bookworm researcher)

    • Magicfingers says:

      Cats are also very important in my world too, it seems, there being five of them currently calling this place home. The one in the picture? Allow me, youngest daughter, to introduce you to the far-too-rotund-but-it-does-rather-suit-me-don’t-you-think Amelia. She’d be very happy to sit on your lap forever.

  5. John says:

    On the CWGC Casualty List of Moorseele Cemetery all in Row AA I found I believe 4 other Canadian soldiers resting there who’s Date of Death suggest a similar wounding/capture on the first day in the Battle of Mount Sorrell. One more from the PPCLI, two from the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, and one of the 1st CMR. The Mounted Rifles were at the front, and 2nd line around Observatory Ridge where the Germans made their deepest, and strategically most dangerous penetration into the Canadian Line covering Hill 60 to near Hooge.

  6. John says:

    Hope I’m not overusing your comment section, but I also found one CEF 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) private James Alexander, resting at Moorseele RowA Grave 5, who died April 27/1915. I would surmise a similar wounding/capture scene only 14 months earlier in a more infamous battle. His regiment was in the front line at St. Julien on the eve of the 22nd April when the Germans released the world’s first ever gas attack at the opening of the Second Battle of Ypres.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Never let it be said that you are overusing the comments section, particularly as you invariably have such useful and interesting information to add. Please continue.

  7. John says:

    Just reviewing old posts and found that I failed to forward my “youngest daughter” Nicole’s return “hello” to Amelia. Nicole has four sisters, and the three that live here with me have two cats. Introducing brothers … Mordred (Nicknamed “Morty”) and Ewen. Both are part Siamese mix. Morty is almost all black furred, and Ewen is, I am told a rare Siamese mix called a snowshoe having four white paws. Quite appropriate this winter time of year in Canada. Both are regularly and smilingly chastised by Nicole for purloining her hot dogs and french fries.

  8. Magicfingers says:

    Hi John. You’d better tell Nicole that another of my cats, whose name is Skat, does tend to sit on the arm of the chair when I am eating supper and if I am not careful, a small outstretched black & white paw is likely to remove chips (that’s french fries to you), cheese, peas, or practically anything he can get hold of. And what with the Malamute (really) glaring at the cat from the other side of the chair….. Need I say more?

  9. John says:

    I wonder my friend if your web administrator could set up a pre-screening of added comments to let you filter out this sudden targeted burst of spam comments? Ugly that someone would target what is really a virtual war cemetery with spam ads, but such vandals sadly do exist. Feel free to remove this one too to reclaim the dignity of the place.

  10. Magicfingers says:

    You are quite right John, damn their eyes! If Baldrick, this sort of thing being his department, doesn’t read this comment soon (which will of course suggest that he’s not paying attention), then he shall be Skyped in the very near future and severely admonished.

    That ought to do it.

    Thanks for the nudge.

  11. Baldrick says:

    It would appear Sir, these spammers set up their attack to occur on the eve of our (Belgian) national holiday — which doubled as the coronation of our new King Filip. That would explain my less than average attention to all things TBN on that day. However, in the mean time it appears you managed to get rid of those spam comments all by your humble self: my work here is done!

  12. Magicfingers says:

    Heh heh, Balders old chap. Can’t pull the wool over your eyes*. Let’s hope they don’t continue (the spammers, I mean, not the Belgian monarchy!). So, you have a new king, we’re about to have a new royal baby. Blimey, it’s all go for the upper classes eh? Lol!

    *Where on earth does that expression come from? Anyone?

    • John says:

      My oldest daughter thinks the expression “blimey” is a contraction of an old oath “God blind me” (…. if I’m lying) She might know such things as she studies different eras than I.

  13. Magicfingers says:

    As far as I know she is quite right. Cor blimey, or in the old days, Gor blimey.

  14. John says:

    There go my eyes again.Without the reading glasses on I missed the asterisk, and thought you were asking about the originof “blimey”. Now sighted, I see it was about the phrase “pull the wool over your eyes” Some quick research suggests it referred to old powdered wigs once fashionable for both women and men. Pulling the wig down in front would temporarily prevent them from seeing. Hockey players here sometimes do that with an opponent’s jersey during a fight.

  15. Magicfingers says:

    Ah. Ok. Now I know. Although I am still trying to work out exactly what the hockey players do.

    • John says:

      For one thing they shot a lot of hard rubber pucks directly at me. Some of them hit me, but most luckily sailed right past. The other members of my team were not anywhere near as relieved as I was.

  16. Magicfingers says:

    Not that we play ice hockey over here, at least not to the standard of you guys, but did that make you a goalminder, or am I barking up the wrong tree (another odd expression, methinks)?

    • John says:

      Goalie or Goaltender would be the most common terms. But if I was accused of being a goalie, I’m not sure there would have been enough evidence to convict. 🙂

      “Clawing at the wrong plate” would probably be a more in-house appropriate term at our respective residences. Seeing as how I had to defend my hamburger dinner from the siamese brothers tonight.

  17. Magicfingers says:

    Very good!! “Clawing at the wrong plate” it shall be from now on.

  18. Magicfingers says:

    Paul, thanks for your kind words. Good luck on the project – absolutely worthwhile, that’s for sure. As you may have realised, I was once a fairly frequent Devon visitor and still regularly pass through heading further west, but I had to look up Rewe, I must say. Anyway, fingers crossed that you get some response.

  19. John Christie says:

    Hi, I’ve just returned from Moorseele Military Cemetery, Serjeant Hugh Christie MM, ( who’s grave you have pictured) is my Great Grandad, l last visited 50 years ago, as a 12 year old boy, with my Dad, who was named Hugh, after the Grandad, he never met, his Dad, John Christie was 2 year’s old, when his Dad (Hugh) was killed in the war, Hugh was born in Dirleton, East Lothian ( it was previously called Haddingtonshire) Scotlan

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello John. It has been a while since I was last there, I must say. Glad I took the photo of your Great Grandad’s headstone. Thanks for commenting.

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