Artillery Wood Cemetery is the furthest north of the eight cemeteries (and one churchyard) included in this tour, and one of the furthest north of all the British Great War cemeteries on mainland Europe, if you discount those on the Channel coast.
The third of three cemeteries on this tour with over 1000 burials (there are just over 1300 graves here),…
…the cemetery was begun when the Guards Division captured the wood after which the cemetery was named during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, between 31st July & 2nd August 1917.
The CWGC blurb says, ‘it continued as a front line cemetery until March 1918’, but that simply isn’t true, as I’ll explain later. Be warned. Later in this post there is a lot of detailed form-interpreting, and if that sort of thing ain’t your bag, I apologise in advance.
At 3.50 on the morning of 31st July 1917, 2,000 British & French guns opened fire on the German lines, from Lizerne to the north, to Ploegsteert Wood, some eight miles south of Ypres, in the south. Following a two hour bombardment, fourteen British and two French divisions attacked along a fifteen mile front, Hooge & Sanctuary Wood, Frezenburg & the Bellewaarde Ridge, and St. Julien all falling, but it was on the Pilckem Ridge, to the north of the attack, that the most extensive advance was made that first day.
And then the rains came.
By 2nd August the British had suffered some 30,000 casualties killed, wounded, and missing over three days and the Germans a similar amount, the bodies of many men already sinking beneath the sodden ground forever; very nearly 4,500 British soldiers killed on 31st July are remembered on the Menin Gate. They had captured the ridge from Pilckem down to Bellewaarde, taken 6,000 prisoners and twenty five guns, and advanced about 3,000 yards from their start point in some places, but by now the battlefield was a quagmire, movement nigh on impossible, and the British advance ground to a soggy halt, some way short of its objectives, although Haig claimed the attack a success, his reasoning appearing to be the fact that casualties were far less than on the first day on the Somme the previous summer.
The vast majority of the graves at Artillery Wood were brought here after the war,…
…in fact the CWGC website tells us that only 141 graves were here at the Armistice, and that all the other graves were brought in from battlefield burials and smaller cemeteries around Boesinghe after the Armistice.
By a remarkable coincidence, if you were to go to the CWGC website and find all the entries for identified men killed on the first day of the battle, 31st July, who are buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery, you would find a total of 141. That’s quite a coincidence, don’t you think? Or maybe not. Later.
Again, according to the CWGC, one of the small burial grounds from where bodies were exhumed after the war was Boesinghe Château Grounds Cemetery, which, if you remember from a few posts back, contained the bodies of nineteen men who died at the A.D.S. at the château. The CWGC website tells us that these men were reburied here at Artillery Wood, but we know that at least one was reburied in Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery.
Anyway, as we walk the breadth of the cemetery…
…towards the Stone of Remembrance in the northern corner,…
…what is clear is that this is a very regimented cemetery,…
…a typical sign of a post-war concentration cemetery, as you can see, courtesy of the CWGC, from the cemetery plan.
Above & below: Stone of Remembrance.
The nearest plot to the Stone of Remembrance, this is Plot X (of twelve in all), and as with the majority of the burials these are all post-war re-interments; from now on, unless I specify otherwise, all the burials we visit here are. The example of a Concentration of Graves (Exhumations and Reburials) Burial Return Form (below) shows Guardsman Percy Holden (nearest camera above) at the top of the list (although his rank is given as private), his means of identification on exhumation, as with several others on the list, the wooden cross originally placed over his grave. One other man was identified by his identity disck (sic).
Following the north western boundary past Plot X,…
…and Plot XII (row nearest camera above, and the three rows below).
You will notice a number of Canadian graves in the back row, but many of their names are unknown; there are only ten identified Canadians to be found throughout the cemetery. It would be nice to be able to tell you how many unidentified men who are known to be Canadians are buried in this cemetery, but there are simply no figures available – it would be a matter of counting the headstones on another visit, and even I don’t have the patience, or time, for that.
Panning across the cemetery from the western corner (above & below)…
…before we begin to follow the south western cemetery boundary, Plot XII on our left and Plot V now on our right.
Twelve special memorials lining the boundary wall,…
…remember ten men whose remains are ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’,…
…and two who are ‘believed to be buried in this cemetery’, somewhere among the just over 500 men buried here whose identity is unknown.
Looking roughly north from the cemetery’s southern corner, the special memorials we have just visited beyond the stone seat on the left, and Plot IX now nearest the camera,…
…and turning to our right, looking along the eastern boundary, the slope down which we entered the cemetery in the right background.
Time to visit Plot I, in the centre of the cemetery, and this is where things begin to get a tad tricky.
This Graves Registration Report Form is the most important piece of evidence when trying to figure out the exact number of men buried in this cemetery during the war. The red writing at the top right states unequivocally ‘Certified that Plots hereafter are entirely concentrated bodies’ and is signed by the major in charge of this particular sub-district. Beneath the column headings is typed ‘This Plot (No.2) and ensuing Plots are entirely concentrations’, and note also the faint pencil ‘Exhumations’ written across the column headings; I think we can safely say that all the wartime burials were made in Plot I and only in Plot I.
So, this is Plot I, with Row A in the foreground, or at least part of it. The total number of burials in the plot is 139, of which thirteen are unidentified. Of the 126 identified burials, all but five appear to be original wartime burials (that is, these five are the only burials in Plot I with exhumation or concentration forms attached to their details). So far so good.
The five include one Labour Corps man (transferred from the Seaforth Highlanders), Private J. Clark, who was killed on 22nd March 1918 (see form above). He is the only casualty from 1918 in the plot, and I am absolutely certain that it is his burial in Plot I that is the reason the CWGC website says that Artillery Wood continued as a front line cemetery until March 1918. However, he does appear to be an original burial (because the concentration forms attached to his details do not actually refer to him at all, and at the end of the post I’ll show you what I mean). There are no other burials in Plot I at all from 1918, and, incidentally, only two from December 1917, both Royal Garrison Artillerymen killed on 10th December and buried together at the end of Row E. It seems pretty clear that Private Clark was indeed buried here, at the end of Row F, more than three months after the previous burials, most likely because it was a convenient and sensible place to bury him.
What about the other four men who are supposed to be post-war burials in the plot? Two of them, Gunners Lewis & Jenkins, appear on the above form which is clearly headed ‘Erected crosses found with no remains and removed to Artillery Wood Cemetery.’ I repeat – found with no remains. So there are two crosses, designated Plot I Row A 21 & 22, beneath which there are no bodies, and we have the proof. Not only that, but the other man named on this form, Lance Corporal C. Binding, Grenadier Guards, has no headstone at Artillery Wood, nor anywhere else; his name appears on the Menin Gate Memorial. All a bit odd, eh?
Plot I, Row B ahead of us; note the large number of artillerymen buried in the plot (forty in total).
And the other two men buried in Plot I who are purported to be post-war burials? Private Chadwick of the Grenadier Guards and Private Hall of the Labour Corps (transferred from the Queen’s), both appear on the Concentration of Graves Form above, so that seems fair enough. Except the grave details (far left) are given as Plot 10 Row F? What? But there are entirely different men buried in Plot X Row F. The actual grave references for the two men are Plot I Row C13 and D6 respectively, and the two headstones are highlighted on the photo below.
So I checked the rest of the men on the form, and precisely none of them are buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery. In fact none of them are buried anywhere, as far as I can see; the names of two are to be found on the Tyne Cot Memorial, one on the Menin Gate, one on the Loos Memorial, and one nowhere (if you can find Gunner Peter anywhere then please let me know). Which makes me wonder whether the bodies of Chadwick (highlighted in orange) & Hall (highlighted in blue) are actually beneath their headstones at all because, and I don’t know about you, it seems most odd that two post-war burials were brought here and, unlike more than a thousand others, were shoehorned into the burials already in Plot I. Doesn’t that strike you as curious?
As we pay our respects at some more of the original burials in Plot I, Row F in the foreground (and Plot VI beyond), including one with a tablet inscribed with ‘In loving memory of our dear boy’ (Second Lieutenant Grey was actually a South African serving with the Royal Artillery), let’s sum up. We know that the original wartime burials in the cemetery are all in Plot I, and that there are a total of 139 graves in the plot, of which thirteen are unidentified (logically, I think it reasonable to assume that they too are all wartime burials). 126 men are identified, and 122 of these are definitely wartime burials. Of the other four I have serious doubts whether there are bodies beneath any of the headstones, and if there are in the case of Privates Chadwick & Hall, then who knows to whom they belong. Of the 122 men definitely buried during the war, all but three died between 31st July & November 1917, and those are the dates that this cemetery was open and in regular use; just four months, half the time that the CWGC, and by extension every other site, will tell you. And that’s a fact.
Leaving Plot I behind, on our right we find Plot IV (above & below).
Plot V Rows A & B include two more headstones with personal tablets left at their bases, both visible in the above photo, the one in the foreground to the memory of Second Lieutenant David Charles Phillips, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, left by his parents and siblings,…
…and the other for Private John Bowman of the Gordon Highlanders, left by his wife. Both have clearly been here a long time.
Plot I on the left (Row B in the foreground; the final headstone five rows back is Private J. Clark, the Seaforth Highlander buried in March 1918), Plot IV on the right, the special memorials along the boundary in the background.
Back at the front of the cemetery, Plot VII in the foreground, the headstone nearest the camera currently removed for renovation. Beyond, Baldrick wanders through the headstones of Plot II, and it is in Plot II that the two most famous burials in this cemetery can be found.
One of two Great War poets buried in this cemetery, this is the grave of the Irishman Francis Ledwidge, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, whose memorial, two hundred yards down the road where he was killed, we saw last post.
Killed in action on 31st July 1917, Ledwidge, or what remained of him (again, see last post) was originally buried where he died, his remains positively identified by his pocket book, and subsequently moved here post-war.
Also in Plot II, but this time in the final row, Row F (the headstones behind are in Plot I), this is the grave of the Welsh poet Ellis Humphrey Evans, Royal Welch Fusiliers, who wrote under the name of Hedd Wyn. And here we open the proverbial can of worms. Ellis Evans was killed on 31st July 1917 on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele, so they say, so the plaques that remember him say, and so his headstone says, an eye-witness, Simon Jones, many years later in the 1970s, remembering, “We started over [the] Canal Bank at Ypres, and he was killed half way across Pilckem. I’ve heard many say that they were with Hedd Wyn and this and that, well I was with him… I saw him fall and I can say that it was a nosecap shell in his stomach that killed him. You could tell that… He was going in front of me, and I saw him fall on his knees and grab two fistfuls of dirt… He was dying, of course… There were stretcher bearers coming up behind us, you see. There was nothing – well, you’d be breaking the rules if you went to help someone who was injured when you were in an attack.” It seems that it was impossible to reach him for several hours, and when he was finally reached and taken to a first aid post, he supposedly asked the doctor “Do you think I will live?” though it was apparently clear that he had little chance of surviving.
All very well, and I don’t doubt Simon Jones’s account of what he saw, or thought he saw, but the details are pure supposition, and the above Graves Registration Report Form quite clearly gives Ellis’s date of death as 4th August 1917 – all the other typed details that have been changed with regard to Ellis have been changed correctly (trust me on that) so why would the date be wrong? And it has been deliberately changed from 31st July to 4th August. So the evidence says that Ellis was indeed fatally wounded, but did not die for a further four days. He was still in the rough area where he received his wound, suggesting that he was too injured to be moved from the A.D.S. and, whisper it, that the doctors knew he had no chance of surviving, and he was gently placed to one side along with other soldiers in similar terrible circumstances. He was probably given morphine and left to die, which he did, the facts say, in red and black pen, on 4th August. Also, did you notice that the soldier originally typed on the form was a Private T. E. Evans, not Ellis at all, but I can find no T. E. Evans on the CWGC database, and unfortunately, all the other forms on the database associated with Ellis actually refer to this other Evans, so no help there. So I am currently wondering what evidence actually exists to show that Ellis Evans/Hedd Wyn died on 31st July, because, frankly, at the moment, I cannot find any at all that stands up to scrutiny. We shall see what we shall see. Watch this space. I hope to be able to tell you the full tale one day. Unless they get me first…..
One other thing. Take one last look at the form. The man listed immediately beneath Ellis Evans, and buried next to him, Private R. E. Samuel, has also had his date of death changed from 31st July to 4th August in red pen. And guess what date of death is given to him on the CWGC database, and therefore on his headstone – yep, 4th August 1917. Case closed?
Because we used the tradesman’s entrance when we first arrived, and I therefore didn’t show you the proper entrance, here’s a few shots from outside the cemetery, as we return one last time to the story of Private J. Clark, Seaforth Highlanders, who died on 22nd March 1918 and was buried in Plot I at the end of Row F, the only 1918 burial made at the time of death in the cemetery.
If you were to look up Private Clark on the CWGC Casualty Details List you would find five forms that are relevant to our investigation, the first being the Graves Registration Report Form I showed you much earlier (the one with just two names on it including his, and about which I see no argument). The other forms associated with him are as follows:
A second Graves Registration Report Form,…
…a Concentration of Graves (Exhumations and Re-burials) Form,…
…and part of the Comprehensive Report of Headstone Inscriptions, but the Private J. Clark on these three forms is not our Private J. Clark. This Private J. Clark is a member of the Black Watch who died on 23rd October 1914, during the Battle of Langemarck, the same date and action that saw the death of Captain Edward Frederick Maltby Urquhart, also of the Black Watch, whose grave we visited in Boesinghe Churchyard a while back, and whose name also appears on two of the above forms – as does another Black Watch officer, Lieutenant Charles Lindsay Claude Bowes-Lyon, once buried in Boesinghe Churchyard, and now buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery (although the Concentration of Graves (Exhumations and Re-burials) Form suggests otherwise, and is, well, wrong, no other way to put it). These three forms have erroneously been attached to the wrong Private J. Clark, probably long before they were digitized.
Apart from the first Graves Registration Report Form, this Comprehensive Report of Headstone Inscriptions Form is the only one with the correct Private J. Clark, his details written in red pen, and attached to the correct soldier.
All of which, if nothing else, shows how awfully difficult, and frankly how much time it takes, to interpret these forms and the information they contain correctly. And I’m sorry, and maybe it doesn’t matter, and who cares anyway, but there is nowhere that I am aware of, certainly on the internet, probably elsewhere too, where anyone has ever bothered to look at the cemetery information that is universally taken for granted, with a questioning eye. And once more, I hasten to add that I am not trying to criticise the CWGC here – where would we all be without them – just correct some of the information about the cemeteries to which they are host. And I think the information should be correct, don’t you? Or do I go back to the start of this paragraph, and just assume no one cares (apart from me), and what does it matter anyway……
A final view looking west across the canal towards Boesinghe as we make our way back up the road. Of the remaining four cemeteries on our itinerary, three are to still be found in isolated sites in the fields as we head south, the other……well, all will be revealed in due course. Click here for Part Sixteen.
Brilliant. Why not go and work for the CWGC??
Thank you Morag. This took a lot of work, so when I saw your comment late last night, I was really chuffed.
Do you think they’d have me?
I started and lost it!! I was researching Australian Sgt William Dalton on our Clyne war memorial. Also on Menin Gate. But real issues with the men killed with him. The grave register number is for one of them survived the war included home. The Australian online records are amazing as you will know and trawling through them and a long but about the Dulhallow block in Perth China wall I finally got it sorted .but as you say not all folk are as interested. I actually started by saying I wouldn’t pretend to know a fraction of what you know but your posts are so well researched and so interestingly written I feel I am standing beside you. They have vacancies on CWGC site tonight. Have a look xx
Lol! You’re very kind. Flattery will get you everywhere. And seriously, if you really do feel like that then that is probably the bestest (sic) comment ever, as that’s what I would like my audience to feel. You are there, as near as the medium allows. So big thanks for that. With regard to the CWGC, perhaps I should just email them and offer to update all their cemetery stuff…for a fee…and expenses. Thanks as ever for commenting – your comments invariably makes me smile, I promise. And we need more smiling in this world, I think.
We’ll have to rename you Sherlock, Sir! Excellent work MJS … the question is “What do you do in your spare time?”
On a serious note – your post provides a great insight to what must have been gruesome work exhuming and identifying battlefield burial bodies. With records being tediously manually made it is not surprising some errors (and corrections) eventuated. Such things happen even today in our digitalized cross-checking world.
Again thank you for another extraordinary post and insight to the Great War.
Well in my spare time I am a huge F1 fan, a huge music fan, love my football & cricket & rugby (union), collector of various things, have a decent library, oh I see, you were being ironic…
Have you ever seen one of the casualty maps the GRUs made after the war? Glad you liked this post btw Sid. I started writing it in May last year!
I’m not sure I can answer all your queries about the burials here, but I notice some of the G.R reports are “memorial plots”. Not wanting to “teach my grandma how to suck eggs”, have you come across them before?
Steve & Nancy Binks
Hello both! Don’t worry, I am always happy to be corrected, assisted, whatever, any time. There are a number of references to memorial crosses and one to memorial row on the forms here, but you will have to point out the ‘memorial plots’ reference for me. The G.R.R.F. & Concentration of Graves (Exhumations and Re-burials) Forms incorrectly attached to Private Clark refer to Memorial Cross No1, but why do you need a memorial cross (whatever that actually is)? Or do they mean a Duhallow Block, which is the standard way of remembering men from other cemeteries, but only if their graves were lost, and there isn’t one here anyway. The penultimate form has a list of Memorial Crosses, but whether this means what it says, or refers to crosses on each headstone, I don’t know. It is ambiguous, but it doesn’t matter because none of these men are buried here, unless there has been (almost) a cover-up, because they are all (I think) listed on the Menin Gate. Confused? Me too.
I think I may have found gunner Peter. Email sent
Oh have you now? Excellent. I haven’t had access to my emails over the bank holiday, so will be checking out all tomorrow.
You best make a cup of tea first, there’s three to wade through and it may get a bit rambling in places lol
Hey, I can do rambling, and I like my tea. I shall be wading this evening.
I have just read this and am even more determined to find my uncle who was killed 31st July 1917 and was in Boesinghe chateau grounds, Have been three times to Ypres looking for his grave and thought we had finally found him when we saw a government paper saying he had been exhumed and reburied in Artillery Wood. But sadly all untrue. His name is on the Menin Gate and right from the start I did not believe this. We visited the chateau and spoke to the family who own it and they were able to show us where the men had lain before being moved to Artillery Wood and yet when we went there only one man had a grave. I was beside myself with frustration and was screaming “what have you done with the others, where are they.” If you can help shed anymore light on this Iwould be eternally grateful. He was my fathers oldest brother and was only nineteen when he was killed. His name was Charles R. Hill Private 14287 of the Scots Guards, killed at Passchendaels, pilkem ridge .
Thanks for reading my rant but this will plague me until I find out the truth.
Hello Norma. Ranting perfectly acceptable on this site. This is all very interesting. I don’t know if you followed the link to the Boesinghe Chateau post and the rather amazing coincidence at the end of that post, but I think, as we know for certain that one man, also a Scots Guard, is buried at Duhallow A.D.S., that a serious look into that cemetery might unearth something. You say, however, that you do know of one man from the chateau cemetery who is now buried in Artillery Wood, which means they reburied them in different cemeteries. Odd, but not unknown by any means, but it certainly complicates the issue. For what it’s worth, I did note that the three Scots Guards on the Artillery Wood Concentration of Graves Form (Hill, Hay & Hamilton) all actually appear on the same panel on the Menin Gate.
On the same subject, I would love to know exactly where the chateau cemetery was if you could tell me???
Thanks for the speedy reply. We went to the chateau one morning which is about two hundred metres from Boesinghe cemetery, on the same side of the street but up a narrow lane. At the first visit the gate was padlocked and no sign of life but we could see the chateau. This was midweek and as the week went on I said to my husband that before we left for home I was going back even if it meant trespassing, I was so desperate to find Charlie this being our third visit. Anyhow we went back on the Saturday morning and the gates were open and there were three vehicles there and as we walked up the lane we could hear voices so we walked up and round to the front , the chateau sits with the back facing the drive? And here was a bunch of people having a barbecue. As determined as I was I had no qualms about interrupting them. We introduced ourselves and it turned out to be a Baron and his family and they were so helpful. He himself didn’t know too much but his wife and the sons did. Hie wife was able to tell us that there had indeed been men buried in the chateau grounds beyond the lake and they had been moved later on. She invited us to walk through the woods to see for ourselves but it was all woodland and really nothing to see now. She pointed in a direction as to where they had been buried and said it was not too far and of course where she pointed was Artillery Wood. We will go back again if we can find some more definite information but we were so disappointed the first time with CWGC information. Then they did not offer up anything more and it was actually my niece whilst doing a project at uni who found the reburial paper which is a government paper therefore the CWGC has to have known of this. Charlie was in the Scots Guards so I have spoken to the man at Windsor Castle an d he sent me what he could. I would be eternally grateful if you could tell me anymore. Thanks for your help thus far.
That’s a good story – I’d have interrupted them too. I have found a Concentration of Graves form for Duhallow A.D.S., where I know one of the chateau men was reburied, and I have found two more Scots Guards (therefore three in total) who were reburied there and were definitely originally buried together and I hope in the chateau grounds*. And an artilleryman. And an unknown British soldier. I need time to check more, but that is five men definitely reburied at Duhallow A.D.S. Fourteen more to find. You said you know of one man buried at Artillery Wood. I really need his name please?
*assuming the burials were south of the chateau and lake – can you confirm from your visit?
Thanks for your reply. The soldier buried in Artillery Wood is called Robinson – 133820 and he is the first one on the list title Boesinghe 55- 127E. There are eleven men on this list, my uncle being one of them. Seven are on the Menin Gate memorial, two on Tynecot and one I have not found where yet.There were nineteen apparently but the list I have has only eleven so there has to be another list in existence. I cannot understand why when it states they were exhumed and reburied in Artillery Wood that there is only one headstone with Robinson on it. It is not as if there were several put in with him otherwise this would have been stated. I have written again to CWGC but as usual it will be a long wait for a reply. This has been so frustrating, first of all to be misled by the CWGC and not informed of the other paperwork about reburial. The family at the chateau knew they had been removed so that had passed down generations so why was it not made more public and the families informed. My grandparents never got to Belgium to see the Menin Gate or any cemetery and died believing their son was buried where he fell. So sad and I am determined to find him however long it takes. He has to be somewhere along with these other men and it cannot possibly be that they reburied one and not the others. Desperate for any more info. Thank you for all your info and
Knowledge on this matter. Regards Norma
Ps yes it was beyond the lake which actually is more accessible from the other end .
Right. I am beginning to think that none of the men from the chateau were buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery. In fact I am more than beginning to think so. If you look up Robinson on the CWGC website you will find two Concentration of Graves Forms. The first one is the one you have with your Uncle on it and says the men were buried at Artillery Wood, the other gives a grave reference for where Robinson’s body was found and says he is reburied in Plot III Row F15 at Duhallow A.D.S. Cemetery, not Plot III Row F15 at Artillery Wood Cemetery. More importantly, the grave reference for Robinson’s original burial is Sheet 28 C19D, but the map reference for Boesinghe chateau is B11B or D or possibly B12A, depending again on exactly where the burials were made. C19D is a mile and a half south east of the chateau, across the canal opposite where Essex Farm Cemetery is now sited. Robinson was never buried at the chateau. I think he is a red herring, wherever he is currently buried. Because if you remove him, we have no other men that we know, for a fact, were moved from the chateau to Artillery Wood, but I have five men who were definitely buried in the chateau grounds and are now definitely at Duhallow A.D.S. If you agree with me, I would then embark on a long and tedious job. Actually, I started the long and tedious job for you, and then decided it was too long and tedious! I would search every soldier at Duhallow A.D.S. on the CWGC database from A-Z looking for all the men who were reburied there, and see if you can find the map reference B11B or D on any of the Concentration Forms that accompany them. You’ll be doing it robotically after a few pages. If you look at the very end of the above post, I have added the form I have with the five men on it – that is what you are looking for. Copy it, because I shall remove it tomorrow. Which means you have 69 pages (actually you can filter that number down somewhat), each with 20 names on each, to look through on the CWGC site. But imagine if you find another fourteen men, known or unknown, who have an original burial map reference of B11B or D (or possibly B12A as I said earlier). Any other map references can be disregarded. I await your response to that lot, Norma!
I thought about looking at the reburial sheets but thus time of year I am golfing not doing much research…..well done and the lady Norma should follow up your suggestion…
Thank you Morag. Nice to be backed up. Golfing indeed! How the other half live (great Open though, was it not?).
We have seen the headstone for this chap Robinson at Artillery Wood?????
I believe you.
Hark at me: ‘feel free’. Honestly, who am I to give permission! Do forgive me.
But it’s still a red herring.
Hello Norma. As you will have gathered I for some reason assumed I was talking to Morag still. Duh! Anyway, Robinson was never at the chateau, we have proof because wherever he is now buried it is the same soldier on the CWGC forms and his grave reference proves otherwise. Forget him with regard to your uncle.
Artillery wood seems to be an ocean of red herrings, if you’ll pardon the pun. It makes me wonder if there was complete change of plan for a large amount of burials that were headed there. Why is anyone’s guess, but it seems to have happened after paperwork had been filed.
Lol. Indeed it does. That’s a decent point, too.
I have found this TOTALLY fascinating…especially the conversation between yourself and Norma Short, regarding her relative 14287 Pte C.Hill 1/Scots Guards. The reason being I am interested in another soldier listed on this same reburial page i.e. 1887 Pte J(ohn) Gill 1/6th West Works, died 24/9/17 (on CWGC re-burial sheet) but 24/9/15 (as he is listed on the Menin Gate – this one more likely correct, if 9/17 – he would have been on Tyne Cot). Do you have any follow-up information since the last posting here in 2018?
Itching new I’m afraid. I wrote again to the war graves commission but no reply.
We only found one grave for the men on the list so if they all were exhumed as it says on the document, what did they do with them. I have been three times to Ypres and still have no further information. It really is so frustrating. They must know what happened to them otherwise why dig them up. I won’t give up but what to do when no one answers your requests.
Thank-you Norma for coming back to me so quickly, somehow I guessed there may have been no response from CWGC to you, I suspect we can guess what happened…I have e-mailed my contact at CWGC this afternoon asking their advice how best to proceed to get this question answered within the Commission…
I have now looked through other relocations to Artillery Wood. I believe now I have the story regarding Robinson (grave, Artillery Wood), C.Hill (Menin Gate) and J.Gill (Menin Gate) i.e. ‘our sheet 127E’. During the battlefield clearances, IWGC teams investigated crosses where found for associated bodies. In this area Artillery Wood became the main concentration cemetery. In the early period both (cross with body) and (cross but with no body) were moved and re-erected in ‘Memorial Rows’ at Artillery Wood. At some stage, those (cross+body) were made into permanent graves (e.g. Robinson). The spaces for (cross but with no body) were later then re-used for actual burials of bodies (whether identified or not) and these original crosses removed as it had been decided to erect Memorials to the Missing (i.e. Menin Gate and Tyne Cot) where such men would be commemorated. What this means is that for C.Hill and J Gill, once there were crosses for these men, their exact locations not being recorded. When they were found, no associated bodies were found (maybe there wasn’t anything recognisable left e.g. destroyed by subsequent shell-fire etc.). These crosses alone were relocated to Artillery Wood, but later removed for reallocation for the burial of other human remains. Often you read that after the war little was written about the ‘battlefield clearances’…in this case, I believe we are seeing a little of the reason why…there would be ‘no’ grave as such for relatives to visit…
That should have read nothing new
Have any of you contacted research team in In Flanders Field at Ieper? Dries Charles is a friend of mine who works there so use my name and he traced a Canadian on Menin Gate killed in a mortar attack. We have a pretty definite answer for where he is buried. Worth a try I think
Hello David. Had to reacquaint myself with the details of this one. It’s a complicated place. Thanks ever so for your earlier kind comments, btw. Incidentally, if you click on this link https://thebignote.com/2017/12/09/a-tour-of-boesinghe-part-seven-boesinghe-demarcation-stone-klene-berta-boesinghe-chateau/
and go to the very end of the post, there’s an amazing coincidence with regard to Boesinghe Chateau!