A few minutes walk east of the Menin Gate, outside the ancient city walls, is Ypres (Ieper) Town Cemetery. Within the cemetery, interred in several different plots among the Belgian civilian graves, are 145 British casualties from the First World War, all but one being killed between October 1914 and May 1915. There are Dragoons and Hussars buried here, there is the son of a Baron, and of an Earl, there’s a Lord, even a Prince. Men of the small but highly professional pre-war British Army, men whose numbers would be decimated in their dogged and ultimately successful efforts to prevent the Germans from breaking through the Allied lines during the first two battles of Ypres.
The British Army, however, would never be the same again.
Within the Town Cemetery you will also find Ypres Town Cemetery Extension, a CWGC cemetery containing burials from both World Wars, as well as the graves of a number of CWGC employees. Look carefully at the centre of the photograph and you will see the Cross of Sacrifice within the Cemetery Extension just visible amidst the trees in the background. We shall visit the Extension in the next post.
Many of these photos were taken on a cold and wintery afternoon just as a wet snow began to fall. A few, such as that above of the first CWGC plot, Rows A 1-3, (see Ypres Town Cemetery Plan), show off the skills of the CWGC gardeners during the summertime.
Just nine of the burials here are unidentified.
The same three unidentified burials, this time during the winter, with the second small plot of CWGC graves, all designated as Row D, beyond (see also photo below).
Above & photos below: A third plot of ten graves, all burials from between February and May 1915, are sited along the western boundary near the southern corner of the cemetery.
Above & photos below: And a fourth plot of CWGC burials lies along the southern boundary.
On the far right 19-year old Private Ralph Kinsey, of the York and Lancaster Regiment, is the only 1918 burial in the cemetery.
Above & following photos: These are the men of the pre-war British Army, the Old Contemptibles, all killed in 1914 and early 1915. You can click the pictures to enlarge them if you wish to read the names and regiments on the headstones.
Looking west along the plot towards the southern corner of the cemetery. In the right background, along the western wall, you can see a few of the headstones we have already visited in the third CWGC plot.
Above & following photos: Back at the graves of Rows D 1 & 2.
Serjeant Frank Burgess, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, killed on 28th October 1914, the only burial in Row C. There is, curiously, no Row B.
The headstones of Row A seen through the civilian gravestones. You can also see the Cross of Sacrifice within the Cemetery Extension on the right.
Above & following photos: Back where we started at Rows A 1-3.
If you look carefully at the previous picture, you will notice a single CWGC headstone facing the camera in the background to the immediate left of Row A 1. This is the grave of Lieutenant Prince Maurice Victor Donald Battenberg, aged 23, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, grandson of Queen Victoria, killed by shrapnel leading his men on the Broodseinde Ridge west of Zonnebeke on 27th November 1914.
The same grave in the wintertime, with the entrance to the Cemetery Extension to the left.
And it’s the Cemetery Extension that we shall take a look around in the next post.
You may be interested to know that Major Lord Charles Mercer Nairne’s battlefield cross is now at Bowood House in Wiltshire. He was the youngest son of the 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, whose family still own Bowood House: http://www.flickr.com/photos/13706945@N00/7463276764/
I am indeed interested. Thanks for the info Michael.
Thanks for sharing your tours and findings. A few friends and I visit Flanders a few times a year and you have certainly assisted in our Crater Tour and Plugstreet Plod planned for September!
That’s brilliant. Glad to be of help. Don’t forget to pop in and see Claude at the Auberge Restaurant at the Ploegsteert Memorial: http://www.auberge-ploegsteert.be/ He follows this site and certainly knows all there is to know about the area. Have a great trip, let us know how it goes, and I am most envious!! Hopefully I shall be back out there before year’s end.