A Tour of Zillebeke Part Twelve – Zillebeke Churchyard

Zillebeke Churchyard

The churchyard at Zillebeke contains 30 CWGC headstones, two of which are special memorials, and, most unusually, two private memorials, a total of 32 burials in all.  Six of these men are unidentified, and of the remaining 26, six are Canadians killed in 1916.  The majority of the 20 British burials were made in December 1914, nearly all are officers, and many of their names reflect the aristocratic nature of the British officer class in the early days of the First World War. 

Zillebeke Churchyard

Which is why you will often find this place referred to as the Aristocrats Cemetery.

Zillebeke Churchyard

Unfortunately for us, as you can see below, many of the headstones are snow-covered today, so we shall have to return here another time to view the majority of the inscriptions, but I can tell you that the tomb-like memorial visible in the above photograph is one of the two private memorials, that of Second Lieutenant Baron Alexis George de Gunzburg of the 11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars, killed on 6th November 1914.

Zillebeke Churchyard

The churchyard plan is available by clicking on the link below, and you can always check out the CWGC website to look at the names if you wish.

Zillebeke Churchyard Plan

Zillebeke Churchyard

However a few of the inscriptions are legible, such as these two later burials, and the Royal Scots headstone in the photo below.  Above, left to right:


Zillebeke Churchyard


Zillebeke Churchyard

The second of the two private memorials, nearest the camera in this photograph, is that of Lieutenant John Henry Gordon Lee-Steere of the Grenadier Guards, killed on 17th November 1914.

Zillebeke Churchyard

Zillebeke Churchyard

Zillebeke Churchyard

Beneath the churchyard wall are the two special memorials mentioned earlier, both to men who are known to be buried here but whose graves were lost due to later shellfire.  Left to right:


Zillebeke Churchyard

Zillebeke Churchyard

The new church at Zillebeke, rebuilt on the remains of the original.


Now, you cannot tour the Zillebeke area without visiting one iconic site, and that’s where we are off to next. The clue’s in the signpost!

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7 Responses to A Tour of Zillebeke Part Twelve – Zillebeke Churchyard

  1. Julie Young says:

    Thanks for putting up the pictures of the headstones in zillebeke churchyard. My paternal great uncle William Stewart is buried here as marked by one of the special memorial stones, researching my family tree & will be able to show my dad the pictures & information found out about an uncle he never knew. Thanks julie

    • Magicfingers says:

      You are most welcome, Julie. A stroke of luck that his headstone was one of the few that were legible on the day I visited! The CWGC website, if you haven’t already checked, has quite a few of William Stewart’s burial documents.

  2. The headstone of Lt Col Chesney Wilson RHG carries the first two lines of a poem. In full it reads;

    Life is a city of crooked streets.
    Death the market place where all men meet.
    If life were marchandice that men could buy
    Rich men would ever live and poor men die.

  3. Fearless phil says:

    Magicfingers, I’m loving your stuff.

    Did you know
    The original weather vane found in the rubble of said Belgian church, destroyed in the First Battle of Ypres in 1915. Which latterly stood atop the Sir john Moore Memorial hall (library), for 99 years has been returned to its original home by members of the now disbanded 2nd South East Brigade.

    As in your article – St Catherine’s Church was flattened by heavy artillery in World War One, along with the entire village of Zillebeke.

    The weather vane, which had fallen from the roof, was rescued by WW1 British soldiers and taken back to Shorncliffe Barracks in Folkestone where it remained until early 2014, as an unofficial WW1 memorial on the library building. (Trophy of the war probably).

    The Barracks and the hall, being scheduled for disposal by the MOD prompted a project by Major Tristan Kemp late RA, the then Deputy Chief of Staff, to return the weather vane to its rightful owners. Members of 103 Bn REME under the supervision of Major Philip Linehan REME safely removed the weather vane and carefully restored it to its original splendour. It was packed up and carefully transported back to Belgium and returned to the parish of Zillebeke in a very moving ceremony.

    It is now displayed proudly inside St Catherine’s Church, directly below the point where it was previously seen for miles around.

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