Wulvergem church. A single plot in the churchyard contains the graves of nine identified and four unidentified men, along with a row of twelve special memorial headstones commemorating 23 men buried here whose graves were lost in later fighting.
Wulvergem is situated about two miles nearly due west of Messines (now Mesen), and the men buried or remembered here were all killed between late October 1914 and early April 1915. There are now six cemeteries within not much more than half a mile of Wulvergem, and over the next few posts we shall have a look around five of them.
The churchyard is denoted by the red dot on this trench map from some time in 1918. Kandahar Farm Cemetery is just off the map along the road near the bottom left, the sites of St. Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery and the two cemeteries at La Plus Douve Farm you can roughly work out, and R. E. Farm Cemetery is just off the map following the only road north. Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, which, as I have yet to go there, we shall not be visiting, is a short distance off the map along the north-west road out of Wulvergem.
Rather than cram this post full of tables, you can see the names and details of the 32 identified casualties by visiting the CWGC website, where you will also find a photo of the graves of two unknown men of the Queen Victoria’s Rifles buried elsewhere in the churchyard that I was unaware of. The cemetery plan, courtesy, as always, of the CWGC, can be seen here: Wulvergem Churchyard Plan.
The headstone in the background at the start of the row of special memorials is the only one with a single name inscribed on it, that of Private J. Price of the Cheshire Regiment, killed on 20th December 1914. All the other memorial headstones in the row (see following photos) each have two names (don’t be fooled by the three other headstones with just a single regimental badge) inscribed on them.
The headstones in the foreground in all the photographs are burials (as opposed to memorials) and include the four men whose identities are unknown.
The regiments of two of the unknown soldiers, however, are known; the centre grave in Row C is that of a man from the Royal Lancaster Regiment.
The identified casualties, surprisingly perhaps, are from a considerable number of different regiments:
|REGIMENT/CORPS||NUMBER OF IDENTIFIED CASUALTIES|
|11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars||2|
|King's Own Scottish Borderers||4|
|2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)||2|
|London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles)||3|
|East Yorkshire Regiment||5|
|King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)||4|
|South Staffordshire Regiment||2|
|North Staffordshire Regiment||4|
The headstone in the foreground to the right in Row B is the earliest of the identified burials in the plot, that of Squadron Serjeant Major Harry Baker of the 11th (Prince Albert’s Own) Hussars, one of two men buried here who died on 30th October 1914. To the left, the grave of an unidentified man from the Devonshire Regiment.
I suspect that all the men here were originally buried in three or possibly four rows, and that what remains today are the remnants of Rows A, B & C after shelling destroyed the remainder of the graves.
Above and following photos: Row A contains more burials from October and early November 1914.
All the special memorial headstones bear the inscription ‘Known to be buried in this cemetery’. Except that of Private J. Price whom we met earlier. His headstone is inscribed ‘Believed to be buried in this cemetery’, which is presumably why his individual headstone is sited at the far end of the row.
Have a good Christmas all. See you in the New Year.
Hello , just to say thank you and wish you and yours a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year … Bill
Thank you Bill. Have a good one too.
I have just visited the grave of my great uncle in Wulvergem Churchyard. He was Sgt. Leonard Johnson of the North Staffs Regiment, who died on 7th April, 1915, aged 22. It was a great privilege to finally come to where he fought so briefly and gave his life, on only his second day in the trenches. I have read the regimental diary for this time, which was fascinating, but would still like to know more. I have not seen a photo of him nor any documentation or medal. Any advice on how to find out more please?
Hello Gaye. You need to see if you can find his Medal Index Card. If it exists it will be at the National Archives in London, along with his other papers if they survived the Second World War bombing. However you should be able to find the M I C on Ancestry.com. Then you’ll need someone to interpret it, but I suggest you find it first! Good luck.
My grandfather was a regimental stretcher bearer, he had his Christmas day in the Priests house at Wulvergem, he would have been based at an aid post, his battalion the 1 /6 Cheshires took part in the Christmas truce, and played the Germans at football, not sure if he played that day, he did captain a few games later on in the war. Regarding most of the graves you have shown not sure of any regimental links, but wondering if those buried in the church yard are linked to aid post activity.
Good point Anthony. In the other posts mentioned near the start of this one, St. Quentin Cabaret Military Cemetery, La Plus Douve Farm & Ration Farm (La Plus Douve) Annexe, I mention a lot about the extrication of wounded from the front lines and the aid posts, and I would guess he probably worked along that route, if he was in the area for longer than just the first Christmas of the war. Maybe your grandfather was billeted in Wulvergem? As far as I know, the graves in the churchyard are linked to fighting units (and once one or two burials were there, where better to bury more men over the months rather than carrying them further westwards?) and I do not know of an aid post actually in Wulvergem itself.