French Flanders: The Nursery Part Fourteen – Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery


A mile up the road from La Chapelle d’Armentières, and no more than a mile due east of Armentières itself, the penultimate cemetery on our tour is Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery.


And guess what?


The weather’s still ‘orrible.  The Becque de la Prévôté, one of so many dykes that criss-cross this landscape and, of course, made the job of soldiering so much more difficult during the Great War, runs alongside the cemetery.  A very clear indication of the high water table hereabouts, and why trenches, as such, were often nigh on impossible to dig.


Cemetery entrance.


Cross of Sacrifice.


The first burials here, the three Durham Light Infantrymen buried nearest the camera in Row A above, were made on 8th January 1915…

Ferme Buterne Panorama

…and the cemetery was used regularly until the end of October.  You’ll notice that he deigned to leave the car this time.  And I’m still looking for evidence of horticultural renovation (you spotted the sign by the cemetery entrance, I take it); perhaps the tiny sapling near the Cross?


Ferme Buterne consists of three long rows of headstones and a short fourth row (Row D), which you can see lining the boundary wall in the background above.  You can check out the cemetery plan if you click the link.


This view looks south east down the cemetery from just in front of Row D.  Of the 129 burials here just two are unidentified.


Men of the Leinster Regiment in Row C, all killed in the fighting in early May 1915.  Behind, in Row D,…


…the graves of Seven Durham Light Infantrymen killed in July and August 1915.


More Leinsters, all but one killed in March 1915, in Row A.


So many names, but here we have a face too, and now we know what Frederick Andrews, one of the earliest casualties to be buried here, looked like.  And it always makes a difference, although it’s a bit unfair that it should, when you can put a face to a name.  Don’t you think?


The Leinsters, sadly, are well represented in this cemetery, forty nine men of the regiment being buried here.  These four touching headstones in Row A suggest these men were victims of shellfire; all were killed on 14th March 1915.  Many of the men buried here died either during the weeks of trench improvement, in terrible weather and under frequent bombardment, that were required during the early months of 1915 to strengthen the British positions, or in the fighting that took place over the sector known as l’Epinette a little way south east of Ferme Buterne.

Ferme Buterne

This map (I forget where I got this so if I’m infringing anyone’s copyright here, please let me know) shows the position of the original Buterne Farm, the strengthened positions at l’Epinette, and the German front line.


View from the eastern boundary, looking north west up the length of the cemetery.


Cross of Sacrifice.


Rudyard Kipling, on one of his many tours of the battlefields in the early 1920s, stopped here, noting; “Ferme Buterne: bad right of way – inaccessibility.  Cemetery register top and sides need painting – book inside all damp and register inside will go to pieces if not kept dry.”  The cemetery register and visitor’s book can be found in a recess on the inside of the entrance pillar, and he’d be pleased to know that all is now in order.  The In Perpetuity tablet can be seen inlaid into the boundary wall.  And I’ve spotted another tiny sapling!


Note the stone inlays at intervals along the coping of the boundary wall.  Very pretty.


Anyway, we must leave these men, and this lonely, windswept place…


…and continue a little way north to our final stop, and one of the largest burial grounds we will have visited on this tour, Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension.

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