Just north of the garrison town of Tidworth in south east Wiltshire, Tidworth Military Cemetery contains burials from both World Wars, as well as later conflicts in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are more than 400 First World War burials here, the majority men who were killed in accidents at the training camps that were sited on Salisbury Plain during the war, or who died of illness at two nearby military hospitals, one in Tidworth itself and the other at Fargo Camp a few miles away to the west.
Oh, and yes, I lied when I said recently that this post would not appear on the home page. Tidworth Military Cemetery is an important, unusual, and relatively unknown place, and it deserves to be seen more widely.
The cemetery is divided into six plots, Plots B, D & F (nearest camera) on the left of the driveway, and Plots A, C & E (nearest camera) on the right, as the cemetery plan shows:
Tidworth Military Cemetery Plan (you will need to scroll down the page slightly)
The Cross of Sacrifice is located towards the western end of the cemetery. Note the information board on the left and the small CWGC tablet on the right. Close-ups later. Plot A, where our visit begins, can be seen in the right background.
But first, a trip around the Cross of Sacrifice.
In the spring of 2014, the CWGC erected around 100 of these information boards at various cemeteries throughout the U.K. to inform visitors about the World War casualties buried therein.
Plot A contains mainly burials from the First World War.
Quite a number of the headstones, scattered among the regulation CWGC ones, are privately erected, often by colleagues of the deceased.
There are 175 Australian First World War burials here, the earliest in June 1915, and the final one in September 1919. Private James Byrne, on the left, died of accidental injuries in January 1917. Private William Humphreys (centre, second row) died of sickness the same month.
45 of the Australians burials can be found in Plot A.
I know not the fate of the two men in the front row, but in the second row, Lance Corporal Hector Young died of pneumonia in December 1918, and Private Walter Russell died of sickness in November the same year.
Tidworth Military Cemetery was started in the early years of the 20th Century, before the First World War, and contains military burials right through to today. The earliest I can find is a Sergeant Charles Radford, Army Service Corps, who was buried here in September 1905.
Above & below: During the first few months of the war the cemetery was used only sporadically. These graves are two of just eighteen 1914 burials here.
Private Henry John Vaugham (Vaughan?) Percy Dove died of sickness in June 1917.
Rows of Australians in Plot A.
Driver Charles Hodge, on the right, died of sickness in January 1919. Private John Murphy, on the left, who died a week or so before the Armistice, perhaps shared the same fate.
At the time of my visit, I was unaware of the meaning of these small numbered markers scattered throughout the cemetery. We shall see more as we continue our tour, and later I shall explain what I have since discovered about them.
Sapper Herbert Larkin died of sickness in August 1916.
Corporal Linskey (left), of the Royal Warwickshires, is another of the 1914 burials.
I have no idea! On the CWGC Casualty Details List, by the way, you will find him under O’Connor.
Near the back of Plot A, Private Robert Byrne, the earliest Australian burial in the cemetery, died of sickness in June 1915.
More often than not, the Graves Register gives us no idea of the reason for death, but of the entries that do, sickness is by far the most common cause, as you will see as we visit the graves in Plot C. The headstone photographs without annotation are those of men whose fate is unknown.
…and to our left, Plot C.
Many more Australian burials are to be found in Plot C.
Private Thomas Walpole died of sickness in April 1917.
Private Samuel Veale (the CWGC Casualty Details List says Veall) died of sickness in September 1916.
Pioneer Desmond Fitzmaurice died of cerebro-spinal meningitis in January 1915.
Two men of the Australian Army Medical Corps, English-born Corporal Thomas Foster and Private Laurence Pearce, both of whom died of sickness in 1916.
Private James Dummett died of sickness in August 1916.
Private John Usher died of sickness in October 1916.
Sergeant Percy Osborne died of sickness in February 1917.
Lance Corporal John Andrews, of the Gloucestershire Regiment (left) is another of the 1914 burials. Private George Dean, right, one of only a handful of Canadian graves here, was accidentally killed in January 1915. In the row behind you will see another Canadian burial; Private Smollet died of cerebro-spinal meningitis in March 1915.
New Zealand graves in Plot C. More than a hundred New Zealanders were buried here between August 1916 and August 1919.
All the New Zealand burials, except a single World War II grave, are to be found in Plot C.
Above & below: Plot C, looking north from the drive.
Turning to our right from the previous photograph of Plot C, the final plot on this side of the cemetery is Plot E.
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed by now that, of all the graves we have visited so far, not a single one has been that of an officer. Unlike the cemeteries we visit on our tours through Flanders, the First World War officer burials are all located together here in Plot E.
Second Lieutenant George Martin was killed whilst flying on 28th (other documentation suggests 29th) November 1917.
Second Lieutenant James Clark (centre) was actually MM & Bar.
The non-World War headstones in all CWGC cemeteries are easily recognisable by the small cut in each corner.
Robert Archibald Storar was accidentally killed on 16th December 1915.
Second Lieutenant John O’Giollagain, Royal Flying Corps, was also accidentally killed in September 1917.
Second Lieutenant Harry Gough was killed whilst flying on 13th March 1918.
There are just five South African First World War casualties buried here, the other four across the road in Plot B on the south side of the cemetery. Lieutenant Godfrey Owen died of pneumonia.
Major Warren was another who died of sickness.
Second Lieutenant Fleetwood Daniel, Royal Flying Corps, was yet another accidentally killed whilst flying in December 1917.
Close-up doesn’t really help much, does it?
Second Lieutenant James Knight, York & Lancaster Regiment, was wounded in France in July 1917 and subsequently died in December that year.
A very brave New Zealander.
Major General Hamish Rollo, Royal Engineers, who fought in the first Gulf War, Bosnia, and Kosovo during the 1990s and 2000s, died of natural causes in March 2009. From what I have read, those who served under him over the years have only good words to say for him.
The grave of Captain Frederick Thompson, the only Indian Army officer buried at Tidworth.
Plot E. The grave on the right, nearest the camera (and photos below), is that of V.A.D. Nurse Mary Agnes Langdale, who was buried here with full military honours in February 1917, having fallen ill whilst working at Tidworth Military Hospital.
Next to her lies the wife of an officer, and although the headstone is very difficult to read, it is interesting to note that the inscription says “the believed wife of”. Hmm.
Plot E; the two graves we have just visited are nearest the camera.
And there are graves that I have no explanation for; Walter Francis West died in 1916 aged 54, but you will not find him on the CWGC Casualty Details List, and I have no idea of his military connection, although there presumably must be one.
Above & below: Final shots of the northern side of the cemetery…
…before it’s time to cross the road and visit the southern side.
There are only a few First World War burials on this side of the cemetery, all of which are in Plot D. The first headstones we encounter, however, are those of Plot F, the first section of which are all post-World War II burials. Those in the front row of the photo above, for example, are all from 1989.
I mentioned earlier that we would return to these small markers that you will by now have noticed can be found throughout the cemetery. As I pointed out near the beginning of this post, the earliest military burial took place here in September 1905, but in March that year, James Rglott, the son of Sergeant Rglott, was buried after just 20 hours of life, and over the years since, many more children from army families have been interred here. From what I can ascertain most now lie beneath these unnamed markers.
Men of the Parachute Regiment, killed in a training accident in December 1943 and buried in Plot F.
British and Polish graves, as well as an Italian, also in Plot F.
More Polish graves, and a few Russians, still in Plot F.
Plot D. All the First World War burials, apart from one, can be found on the far right of the plot (see below).
The other four World War I South African burials (front row above & below), and more World War I burials in the rows behind.
Above & below: Of the eight Canadian graves in the cemetery, seven are burials from 1915 & 1916. This lone Private was buried here in February 1919. One wonders what his story was, but I would suspect that by this date influenza was the most likely cause.
The final plot, Plot B, contains just a dozen Second World War burials, the remainder being post-World War II graves.
At the rear of Plot B, two burials from 1998.
And that is it. Well, almost.
Just inside the cemetery entrance, on the northern side of the drive, lie three Gurkhas who all died in a six month period during the winter of 1962 and spring of 1963.
To the right hand side of the entrance, a small Garden of Remembrance is set aside to receive the ashes of members of the Defence Services and their families.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is Tidworth Military Cemetery. Should you ever be in the area, go and spend an hour with these men. They deserve to be remembered every bit as much as the men we visit on our travels through Flanders.
“Died of sickness”, “meningitis”. An ode to the men who lived for weeks at a time, over months, then years with long before fallen comrades and enemies oft stacked in the very walls of their trenches. A war wound of microbial calibre.
You have a way with words, my friend. I told you it was an interesting place.
Some nice pictures.
Mark (Caretaker Tidworth Military Cemetery)
Are you still the care taker at the cemetery.
If you still are. Would it be possible for you to have a look for my late grand father (anthony michael moore). I was only a child when he was buried there. From what I can remember his plot is on the right hand side. Half way down. From the entrance. He was buried in the mid to late 90s.
If it’s not to much trouble would you be able to take a photo of hus head stone and email it to me. I live in scotland now and would love to give my father a remembrance gift.
Thanks graham moore
Thank you Mark. I hope I have done the place justice.
In 1947 my father with a long service in the Rifle Brigade died of TB in Tidworth. He was buried in the Military Cemetery in November of that year. My mother’s ashes were later put into the foot of his grave (permission from a Brigadier given!). The grave is regularly visited by a close friend of mine. He was on the Barrack staff when he died.
My mother’s one regret was that she did not let my father have an Army headstone.
She said he had been a number all his life and it was time to be a person.
For your interest, one of the previous cemetery keepers who lived in the bungalow in the grounds is buried near to my father. They were friends. Dad was a PTI in the Army and a WO1 or 2 when he was invalided out after 21 years. Our surname then was Norman (Charles Reynolds Norman). Wish I could get there to visit but illhealth will not let me. It is a truly beautiful place and thank you for taking such sensitive pictures.
And thank you, Joan, not only for sharing your father’s story, but for your very kind comments at the end.
I visited this cemetery only last week whilst driving past previously having been unaware of it. It is a very moving place and there can’t be any other CWGC cemetery with such a diverse range of graves. Your pictures really show it how it is and thank you for some of the explanations. I saw the graves of the three teenage paratroopers killed on the same day in December 1943 and guessed it was a tragic accident, which you have confirmed. If people are passing it is well worth a stop a spending time in there.
Yes, Martin, it is indeed a very moving place. Thanks for your kind comments. I am glad you approve of my tour of this particular cemetery, and, like you, I urge people to visit if they get the chance.
Very impressive documentation about this Cemetery. After mil. service of 37 years I retired Dutch Army in July 2013.
I will probably have the change to visit Tidworth Military Cemetery end of April 2015 on my motortrip towards Gloucester, were I will visit a NL collegue still in active mil. service.
On my website You can find information about the my UK trip.
Hope You all live well and deep respect for all who fought and died for freedom!
Thanks for your comments Rob. Much appreciated. I hope you get to visit Tidworth, and have an excellent trip anyway.
My father recently found out that my great great uncle is buried here in C125 Arthur Stone pvt 17159 5th reserve regt cavalry so this weekend just gone my father along with my son and I paid our respects of three generations.
The area is kept in immaculate conditions and is a very moving place.
That’s wonderful. And yes, it is a moving place.
Congrats on your excellent site. I was wondering if you had come across a memorial to a soldier who died at Tidworth Camp in 1907 – L.Cpl. James Murphy late The Connaught Rangers. Many thanks. If there is a headstone or memorial, I would like to obtain a photograph of it if possible.
Hello Peter, and thank you for your kind comments. I’m afraid I don’t appear to have a photo of the grave of Lance Corporal Murphy, although I dare say the headstone, if there is one, is visible in some of the above shots, but I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.
I was looking for the graves of green jacket other ranks which I understand were
At this cemetery . Have you any information ? Many thanks.
Sorry Mike, I really don’t know the answer, but I believe that, since my visit, some sort of information panel has been put up about some of the burials, so I’d get in touch with the cemetery authorities and see what information they may have. Actually drove past Tidworth on the 303 only this afternoon.
Can you explain why some soldiers have their own distinctive headstone in CWGC cemetery
Tidworth is an unusual example Alison, because being a huge army camp the cemetery catered for all deaths in the camp, including soldiers’ families, and being here in England families could have their own headstones if they wished; as in any ordinary British churchyard, families had the choice. You will find the occasional non-CWGC headstone in cemeteries abroad too, but only occasionally, and they tend to have been erected by colleagues of the dead soldier near the time of his death – sometimes, such as at https://thebignote.com/2016/08/28/the-arras-memorial-faubourg-damiens-cemetery/ to be found backed by a CWGC headstone.
Hello , thanks for all the wonderful info. I am planning on visiting the grave of my granddads brother at tidworth next week . Having survived Dunkirk he was killed when some idiots playing football with a mills bomb kicked it into his tent and it exploded in March 1941 . CSM yendole , the great uncle I never knew.
Hello Duncan. You are welcome. It’s a really interesting place, Tidworth. Man, what a story though – what can I say? You can understand why some soldiers became fatalists. If you get a pic of his headstone, I’d be happy to add it if you like. Have a great visit anyway – and don’t forget to visit, just down the road from the cemetery on the road to the A303, and easily missed unless you know it is there: https://thebignote.com/2014/09/22/tidworth-royal-british-legion-war-memorial/
Hi I managed to find the grave of a childhood friend of mine, whom I have been looking for, for sometime. Through various avenues, I have discovered that he was buried in Tidworth M C in 1985. S/Sgt Michael Roy Thompson. Our father’s served together.
Hopefully, I will be able to visit the grave in the next few weeks and wonder if you would be able to let me know the part of the Cemetary that it may be in.
Hello Mandy. He is buried beyond the Cross of Sacrifice on the left side of the cemetery in, I think, the second or third to last row. There or thereabouts. You’ll find him.
Could I ask you to do a favour for me, I collect medals & I recently bought at auction the medals of 21182877 Pte R Hudson his grave is in Plot F Grave N 66 Tidworth Military Cemetery. Pte Hudson enlisted in the General Service Corps in 1948 on a 5 & 7 year engagement I suspect under age, he was poster to 1RNF and served in Korea as part of 29 Brigade.
Pte Hudson left the army in 1953, in 1956 Pte Hudson was recalled from reserve & posted to 1 West York’s sadly he was one of the two West York’s men killed during Operation Musketeer, Pte Hudson’s death was the result of friendly fire, the other casualty was 2Lt A. Moorhouse Son of the owner of Moorhouse’s Jam Company Leeds.
The medals came complete with Pte Hudson’s Service Records so the records must have been obtained by his next of kin the medals were then sold in 2014 & Resold to me last month.
The medals will stay with me & Will try to put together as much information about the recipient as possible.
As I live in the north west of England & therefore a long drive to Tidworth could someone please take a image of the headstone of Pte Hudson for me.
A sad but not uncommon story. Very interesting. I’m afraid the same applies to me as you, Thomas – I took these photos on a trip and I don’t live anywhere near Tidworth either. Hopefully someone will respond – if not, try the cemetery authorities – you never know! Good luck.
Or check here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83079499/richard-hudson
A quick few questions… top right hand side from entry is a single soliders grave facing side ways on and all others are facing the same way,,, is there a reason for this.
We noted there was a lot of stone number graces with no identification on them.
Can you shed some light for us..
We visit on a regular basis
Well I am very pleased to hear that you are regular visitors, Lee. I would be if I lived anywhere near, but as I have said to one or two others, I am afraid I don’t and therefore I don’t know the answers to your questions. However, when I was there, the guy who was looking after the cemetery was very knowledgeable. You need to find him. Best I can do, really. Although someone else may see your comment and know the answer. Time will tell.