French Flanders: Armentières to La Gorgue Part Four – Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery

Two and half miles due west of Suffolk Cemetery (La Rolanderie Farm), but now about 400 yards north of the river on the inside of a huge meander, this is Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, the first cemetery on our tour that we have not visited before.

On entering, we find the cemetery is split into two halves, so much so that if you put a boundary wall straight down the middle here, you would have two distinct cemeteries, but the two halves are inextricably linked, which, along with the reason for the gap, will be explained later.

There are also headstones positioned around the walls for as far as you can see.  It all looks a bit odd.  As Baldrick beats an early retreat (he’ll be back), let’s take a look at the headstones along the wall on the right,…

…the first of no less than eight rows of special memorial headstones here, every single one to a soldier ‘known to be buried in this cemetery’, these headstones designated as Row A (above & below).

It appears that this is going to be a tricky cemetery to read.  Seriously tricky, as it turns out, so make a cuppa, grab a beer or whatever poison suits you, and make sure you’re strapped in for the long haul.  For what it’s worth, here’s the cemetery plan, but it won’t explain an awful lot at the moment, and we shall be looking at it in more detail later.

But everything starts easily enough.  With the memorial headstones we have just seen now behind us, this southern section of the cemetery is Plot I, and contains all the burials made here by the British during the war,…

…with the earliest casualties, eight Australians killed in the latter half of July or early August 1916, buried in Row A in the foreground (and below), and another in the row behind.  Unlike the northern part of the cemetery, as we shall see, nearly all the men buried in the first eight rows here are identified.

Following these first Australian burials, between August 1916 and early December 1917, sixteen months, the cemetery was used for just a dozen burials (four of which are the only New Zealanders buried here), all in Plot I Rows A, B or C (first three rows above), and so it was not until the Royal Welsh Fusiliers buried eight men here on 26th & 29th December 1917 that the cemetery began to be used on a more frequent basis, although still only seven burials were made in January 1918, and eleven in February.  As March progressed the cemetery grew, by a total of thirty one by the end of the month, along with a couple in early April, before, on 9th of the month, the Germans came knocking; the cemetery would be used by the Germans during the summer months until the 2nd September, when it was recaptured, after which a further seven British burials were made here between 5th & 9th October.  To the left of the Cross of Sacrifice the single row of headstones at 90° to the rest of the headstones in the picture,…

…is another row of Special Memorials, Row B,…

…seen here from another angle, Plot I behind, with Row H, the last completed row of wartime burials, furthest to the right.

Panning further right, unfortunately missing Row J completely (but it is visible a couple of shots back)), these are Rows K, L & M.  The first eight rows of Plot I, Rows A-H, are all wartime burials, as is Row M, the seven headstones along the boundary wall all bearing dates of death between 5th & 9th October 1918.  Row K and the four unidentified soldiers of Row L are all post-war burials, as are all but four of the men buried in Row J.  In case you were wondering, or hadn’t bothered with the cemetery plan, there is no Row I.  All of which, at face value, seems fair enough.  We shall see.

Cross of Sacrifice.

To the immediate right of the Cross another row of special memorials, this time Row C, with Plot III behind, and yet more special memorials, Row E, in the left background along the cemetery’s northern boundary.  At which point we need to get back to the eastern boundary, so, taking note of the car roof on the right of the picture,…

…here we are, the cemetery entrance just out of shot to the right, and two more rows (Row H above, Row G from the far end in the inset), separated by a gap (left), of special memorial headstones along the boundary wall.  Turning round,…

…Plot III once again ahead of us, with Row A in the foreground,…

…and what becomes clear as we wander through the plot is the striking number of unidentified burials,…

…only forty identified men to be found among the 224 headstones, and we shall find a similar split in Plot IV later.

Row L, at the far western end of Plot III,…

…a typical row in the plot, and along the wall on the far right,…

…the longest row of special memorials, Row E.  And at this point we need to attempt to work out the conundrum of Croix-du-Bac.  Because there is an obvious one.  The CWGC website tells us that, and I quote, ‘After the Armistice, Plot I was completed, and Plots III and IV formed, by the concentration of 328 British graves from the battlefields and from the German Plot (II); the German graves were removed to other cemeteries, as well as one Portuguese grave. There are now 554 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 263 of the graves are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate 140 casualties known to be buried among them (my italics).’  Wait a minute.  554 casualties, of whom 263 are unidentified, but with special memorials remembering 140 of these by name.  Which means, surely, that the men on the 140 memorials have two headstones, one a special memorial headstone with their name on around the cemetery boundary or either side of the Cross, and one with ‘A Soldier of the Great War’ inscribed on it in one of the plots?  Which makes the number of casualties in this cemetery 414, not 554.  Doesn’t it?  Yes, it does.  Good, glad that’s sorted, apart from the obvious ramifications that we need to discuss later.  Moving on, it is far from uncommon to find special memorials in cemeteries within range of German artillery where graves of originally identified men have later been disturbed or destroyed by shellfire.  It is far less common to find special memorials to men moved post-war because it begs the question ‘Up to what point were these men’s identities known, and why and how were they then lost’.  At first you wonder whether there might have been an almighty cock-up and all the special memorials remember men who were identified when recovered from the battlefield, but their identities got lost in transit, so to speak.  But delving deeper, the answer actually lies in a mass grave that was once somewhere in the region of the three mainly post-war rows of headstones in Plot I that we saw earlier and will see again.  And how do we know that?

Because this is the first of a series of Grave Registration Report Forms that list the 140 soldiers in alphabetical order now remembered on the special memorials, who were all originally buried in Plot I Row L Grave 1a, as the form clearly tells us.  ‘Grave 1a’ in the heading was at some point crossed out in black, and replaced with the word ‘Cross’ in pencil.  Typed beneath the heading is ‘A large Special Board (inscribed with undermentioned names) erected 5′ 7″ to the left of, and in line with, Grave 1 (U.B.S.).’, the word ‘Board’ also crossed out, again in black, and replaced with ‘Cross’.  Now whether a cross was ever placed here in the end is something we shall return to much later, but what is clear is that these men were all buried together in a mass grave, in or beyond the space at the end of Plot I Row L (marked in red in the photo below – bear in mind that there was no cemetery boundary of any sort at the time) and after the war the intention was to place first a board, and then a cross (a board being considered to lack the requisite respect, I would imagine), there, with the names of those buried beneath inscribed on it (suggesting that originally the intention was to leave the mass grave well alone).  The amendments on the above form in red pen show the final decision to exhume these men and reinter them in Plots III & IV, and to remember them on individual special memorial headstones, their memorial numbers in the far right column.

So why was there once a mass grave here? For the answer, we must look at what happened in these fields over the course of 9th & 10th April 1918.

At dawn on 9th April four German divisions, with three more following close behind, appeared through the morning fog and smashed through the understrength 2nd Portuguese Division who were holding just over six miles of the front line between Festubert and le Tilleloy, south east of Laventie – the shaded blue area shows the northernmost mile and three quarters of the Portuguese-held sector, and the arrows show the German advance, most heading for the river crossings, those on the far right heading for Fleurbaix and contact with, among others, the Suffolks, as we saw in the last post.  Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery is marked as an orange dot.

Within hours they were approaching the three floating bridges across the Lys at Bac St. Maur, and although the British managed to cut the ropes to two of them, the Germans captured the third bridge intact (mauve circle) – and began advancing up the road towards Croix-du-Bac village and into the fields towards la Boudrelle (arrows).  British reinforcements in the form of 74th Brigade were rushed south from Steenwerck, three  miles to the north, to counter-attack the German bridgehead, men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment using a major communication trench called Steenwerck Switch to try to reach the river via la Boudrille, the Lancashire Fusiliers using the road to Croix-du-Bac, with men of the Worcesters on their left.  With the bridge at Fort Rompu (red circle – just a hamlet, not a fort, as you can see) having been demolished earlier in the day before the Germans could reach it, the Worcesters were able to reach the river bank, but the other two battalions were less successful.  Machine guns in the buildings along the road out of Croix-du-Bac to the south west (green circles) began to take their toll of the Loyal North Lancs men moving south towards la Boudrelle, who themselves were encountering men of the Yorkshire Regiment who were still retiring to the north bank of the river from Sailly-sur-la-Lys, a little to the west.  The Lancashire Fusiliers, along with some of the Worcesters, counter-attacking directly south to Croix-du-Bac itself, reached the village but could make no further progress in the face of heavy German fire.  At 2.00 a.m. on the morning of 10th April all three battalions were ordered to attack together and drive the Germans back across the Lys before it was too late.  This time many men did manage to reach a series of posts on the river’s northern bank, but they could not push the Germans back across the river, and found that they were taking serious fire from the rear, the Germans using houses in la Boudrelle (yellow ellipse) and Croix-du Bac itself, although in the confusion of battle the British had no idea whether these were Germans they had by-passed as they moved south, or whether the river had been crossed elsewhere and these were fresh enemy troops.  Nonetheless, they contained the Germans until mid-morning, but eventually enemy infiltration between the Loyal North Lancs and the Lancashire Fusiliers forced the whole brigade to make a fighting retreat north towards Steenwerck and out of the area covered by both map and tour.

A close look at the Burial Return forms for the men exhumed from the mass grave, an example of which appears above, shows a large number of men whose regiments could be identified but whose names could not.  When the Germans attacked, divisional pioneers of the 12th Yorkshires, already in the area, were ordered to occupy a line of trenches facing the bridges at Bac St. Maur, from where they became involved in fierce fighting covering British troops, including some of their own companies, retiring across the river.  Evidence shows sixteen identified and thirty unidentified Yorkshiremen to have been exhumed from the mass grave, three of those identified appearing on the above form.  There are also four unknown men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, whose exploits we have just covered, on this particular form, out of 47 in total exhumed from the mass grave (11 identified and 36 unidentified, although proven to be North Lancs).  Other Burial Return forms contain 25 Lancashire Fusiliers (only five of them identified), and ten men of the Machine Gun Corps (three identified); four teams of machine gunners had joined the Lancashire Fusiliers as they counter-attacked towards Croix-du-Bac, so perhaps these were casualties from among them.  Interestingly, only six men of the Worcester Regiment, just one identified, were exhumed from the mass grave, and as we have seen, the Worcesters attacked to the east of Croix-du-Bac, reaching the river bank and encountering less opposition and suffering fewer casualties than the battalions to their right.

The photograph above looks south across Plot I towards the river, the site of the mass grave marked in red, although presumably it once stretched out into the field in front of us.  All the buildings are on the southern side of the Lys, the arrow showing the site of the Bac St. Maur bridge (behind the trees).  In 1918 I don’t think the view would have been much different; the towns and villages along the Lys contained much light industry back then as it appears they still do today, and the nature of the previous three years of warfare had left them relatively untouched until now.  Once the Germans had secured their bridgehead here they would, at some point, need to begin to clear the dead that must have been littering this whole area – one wonders how many men died where these sheep now peacefully graze, because these fields must have been left covered with dead as the fighting moved north.  Some of these would have been German, whom they buried to the right of the eight rows of British, Australian and New Zealand burials that were already here (and are pictured above), but the majority were the overwhelmed British defenders, and the men who counter-attacked, and they were all buried in a mass grave.  It seems the Germans did, however, identify as many of the British dead as possible (and probably removed their tags and any documentation, rendering many of them unidentifiable from then on) before burying them, because the only explanation for the fact that so many of the names are known, and that many of the special memorials round the cemetery walls are placed in alphabetical groups, is that the names were transferred from a document.  And the British clearly acquired a copy of said document at some point, almost certainly from the Germans via the Red Cross.  Which meant that when it came to post-war body reclamation, the British knew they would be faced with a mass grave containing a large number of British bodies, and already had a list of names covering, as it turned out, some of them.

Another GRRF, with more of the same regiments that we would by now expect to find among the men exhumed from the mass grave.  Post-war, it may well be that the exact site of the mass grave was known, because although the map reference for the soldiers buried in the grave and that of the cemetery itself are identical, it is noticeable that Plot I Row M, the burials made in early October 1918 along the boundary wall, and the final wartime burials here, has been spaced well apart from the other British burials from earlier in the war.  For sanitation purposes, certainly, but also because disturbed earth or perhaps a German marker (the Germans would have marked the grave for similar reasons, but whether their marker would have survived the fighting later in the year is a moot point) marked a mass grave.

Let’s take a look at how the cemetery as it now appears came about.  At the end of the war the cemetery consisted of the outlined rows in Plot I above (Rows A-H, part of Row J, and Row M), and the outlined blue section alongside, where the Germans had buried their own dead.  The mass grave is marked in red, although the exact size, and how far it extended to the south (left), we shall never know.  The green areas show where the bodies from the mass grave were reburied after the war, some in Plot I Rows J, K & L, but the majority in Plots III & IV.  Close checking has shown that all of the identified men in Plots III & IV (except the final row in Plot IV, Row E, marked in yellow, which we shall come to a little later) were exhumed from the mass grave, so it is logical to assume that all the unidentified men were too.  If you remember, the CWGC cemetery history states ‘…Plots III and IV formed, by the concentration of 328 British graves from the battlefields and from the German Plot (II)’, but there were actually no British graves among the German graves – the documentation shows that, apart from Plot IV, Row E, all the British post-war burials in the cemetery were exhumed from the mass grave.  All of which allows us to calculate the number of men buried in the mass grave, which we now know once contained 316 bodies, considerably more, as was pointed out to me, than now lie in the newest of the CWGC cemeteries at Fromelles which was created solely for the 250 victims of a mass grave.

The concept of a mass grave may conjure up various images.  In this case I think we can be fairly certain that this mass grave was a long trench with the bodies, possibly stacked, but essentially buried side-by-side.  How else could the British, on exhumation, have been able to measure the height of many (above) in an attempt to match bodies to names via personal details.  There are also a number of dates of death of individual soldiers that do not at face value fit in with burial in the mass grave, although the Germans could possibly have added bodies to the end of the grave as they found them.  This does not explain the occasional date of death when the tide of battle had long passed, but the discrepancies are likely to come from the British side and may well be confusion based on the date a soldier was finally accepted as ‘missing presumed dead’.  There is no confusion about the map reference from where they were all exhumed, which is the map reference of the cemetery.  The most likely explanation is that all the soldiers in the mass grave, and therefore all the men now buried in Plots III & IV, with the exception of Row E, were killed or died between 9th & 11th April 1918.

Whilst you digest that lot, let’s move on to Plot IV, on the right here,…

…where we find many more unidentified men,…

…the graves of only twenty five of the eighty one men buried in the plot being identified.

At the end of Row A a single headstone inscribed ‘A Victim of the Great War’, which is an unusual headstone in its own right,…

…and becomes a mystery when a reference to the relevant GRRF shows this burial referred to as an ‘Unknown Civilian’.  Buried in, and exhumed from, the mass grave.  Curious.

And even more curious when one discovers a second unknown civilian, also exhumed from the mass grave, now buried in Plot III Row D.  It may well be that these were indeed civilians who got caught in the crossfire – the German attack had precipitated the exodus of thousands of civilians who had remained in their homes, a few miles behind the front lines, throughout the previous years of war, all now heading north and west ahead of the advancing Germans, and adding to the confusion across the battlefield.  Or maybe you have a more interesting explanation?  If so, do share it.

More special memorials along the northern boundary, this time Row F.

Plot IV Row D, five of the seven men unidentified.

…and the same row of special memorials, Row F, this time from the far end.  Sneaking into the picture in the right foreground,…

…we finally get to see Row E (above & below), if only from behind, these burials the only ones in the whole cemetery brought in from other locations.  Told you he’d be back.

This Burial Return form, stamped 19th October 1920, gives the map reference where the bodies of the first nine men now buried in Row E were found, just one identified at the time, and, as you can see, for the first time we have a different map reference than that of the cemetery.

This GRRF, which covers all the burials in Plot IV Row E, shows that by 8th December 1920 all but one of these nine men (the first nine entries) had been identified.

The map on the left was published in June 1918, that on the right in August 1918, and the two together only work if you enlarge the whole composite (although there’s a close-up of the left hand side –  from a different map – below).  Both show only German trenches, and illustrate the confusing conversion that took place in the summer of 1918 when, to fit in with the French model, British trenches, marked in blue on maps throughout the war, became red, and German trenches, likewise marked in red for four years, became blue. The gap between the maps is explained thus; after a late night vino-fuelled attempt to match up these two maps (Sheets 36.NW & 36A.NE) proved unsuccessful, the cold light of dawn (read ‘afternoon’) showed that the reason I had failed miserably, apart from the obvious, was because a whole square, or at least parts of two squares, is missing!!  Most odd.  Anyway, Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery, and all three original burial locations of the men now buried in Plot IV Row E, are marked.  On the very far right, the cemetery is marked in pink, and if you move three quarter-squares to the left you will see Brickfields Post, with a light railway running parallel to, and just to the south of, the river at the same point in the square below.  This is where the nine men, eight now identified and mentioned just above, were found before exhumation.  Moving across to the left hand section of the map, square 5 has two green circles, the original burial places of the remaining seven men now buried in Row E.

I later found another map (Merris: parts of 27SE, 28SW, 36A.NE & 36NW, for those interested), this extract from which covers part of the gap between the previous ones; the enlargement shows the two grave sites, one (light green) actually within the moat of Aileron Farm…

…from where these six men were exhumed,…

…and the dark green circle marking the original grave of Private Storey, originally buried, or at least discovered, in the fields just to the north east of the farm.

So now you know the story of Plot IV Row E (foreground again).  One last thing while we are in the plot.  I have no evidence to support this, but it seems to me that the reason why Rows D & C (centre & right) are both shorter than the normal numbers in Plots III & IV is the straightforward one.  The mass grave had finally yielded up its dead.  With which we say au revoir to Plots III & IV and return to the cemetery entrance where Baldrick awaits,…

…and where we also find the lone grave of Second Lieutenant Arthur Jones, New Zealand Field Artillery, his grave designated Plot I Row A10, the only man who might once have been buried on the edge of the German graves, or rather the Germans may have buried their dead next to him.  There is no mystery behind Arthur Jones’ slightly isolated burial.  Killed in action on 12th November 1916, the previous burial had been a month before his, and the next would be two months away.  At the time this was just a shattered field with a dozen crosses, mainly with dates from July & August 1916 upon them, near the road, and he was simply buried close by.  The gap between him and the Cross of Sacrifice and the western end of the cemetery is a large one, is it not – I think there were once a significant number of Germans buried here.

Croix-du-Bac has undergone changes over the years, as this photograph from the late 1920s shows, the most obvious being the twenty headstones behind the Cross, which are no longer there and have been replaced by a hedge and the building (see below).  These headstones are special memorials, not graves, that were moved long ago and were probably added to the memorials already designated as Row E (now the longest row of special memorials in the cemetery with 34 headstones) along the northern boundary.  More interesting is the Cross itself in this old photograph, which is clearly not the same as the one now present.  Crosses, like headstones, occasionally need replacing, but the design of this cross appears to differ from the standard, not least because there appear to be recesses for panels to be affixed, very much like a typical English war memorial, if there is such a thing.  Way back I said we would return to the cross that was once going to be placed on the mass grave and for which we have seen the documentation.  Could this be the very same cross, never actually used on the mass grave once the generic idea of special memorial headstones had been agreed upon, but already constructed, and thus used as the Cross of Sacrifice until wear and tear saw its replacement by the standard cross we now see?

Otherwise, I think that the true story of Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery can at long last be told.  Begun by the British in the summer of 1916, and used sporadically by them until April 1918, the cemetery was captured by the Germans, who buried the British bodies lying on the surrounding battlefield in a mass grave just beyond (to the south of) where the British had been burying their dead.  The Germans also buried their own dead in individual graves to the right (north) of the eight rows of British graves already here, in the gap shown above.  After the war the British exhumation companies, armed with a list of names, arrived at Croix-du-Bac, found the mass grave and exhumed the bodies, identifying a percentage (a process the IWGC would continue well into the 1920s, as we have seen on some of the forms I have shown you), creating Plots III & IV, to the right of the German graves, for the majority of reburials, as well as reburying a small number of the men in what is now Plot I.  The German graves were removed entirely, the men in Plot IV Row E were brought in from a few miles away, after which the cemetery was landscaped and completed with a surrounding wall beneath which special memorials were placed to remember 114 of the men known to have been buried in the mass grave whose bodies could not be identified, and the gated entrance (final photo), and Cross of Sacrifice, flanked by two rows comprising a further 26 special memorials, were added (there is no Stone of Remembrance here, despite the number of burials).

One last form, and another clue to the existence of the mass grave, not that any further proof is required.  Towards the top of this form, as with others relating to the mass grave burials, a sentence in red ink which originally read ‘Certified that this plot consists wholly of concentrations’ has been changed to ‘Certified that this plot consists wholly of exhumations’.  The difference?  Concentrations implies bodies brought from elsewhere to be concentrated here.  The men in the mass grave were reburied very close to their original place of burial, within the wartime cemetery, at the same map reference.  Hence ‘concentrations’ changed to ‘exhumations’.  And, as I said, further excellent evidence that both Plot III & Plot IV contain only bodies from the mass grave.

All of which leads us on to the obvious ramifications of the now-solved Croix-du-Bac conundrum.  Put simply, if every special memorial in every CWGC cemetery across the Western Front has another, unidentified, headstone elsewhere in the same cemetery, what effect does that have with regard to the total number of men we believe are buried in the cemeteries?  Yes, that is a rhetorical question.  At present.

Much of the donkey-work, the real stuff, behind the conundrum of Croix du Bac was done by BigNoter Nick Kilner over Christmas 2018, because at the time I was frankly getting tied up in all sorts of bizarre theories, including alien abduction, to try to get to the bottom of it, and he kept me on the straight and narrow.  His attention to detail was reassuring, so huge thanks to him for his efforts, and I hope he forgives me for not necessarily including everything he uncovered, particularly with regard to some of the questionable dates of death for a few soldiers that I touched upon earlier – this post is long enough already!

Next, we cross back to the south of the river to visit the final burial place of the Germans originally buried here at Croix-du-Bac, once they had been exhumed post-war, as we take a look around Sailly-sur-la-Lys German Military Cemetery, less than a mile to the south west of here.

This entry was posted in Armentières to La Gorgue, French Flanders. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to French Flanders: Armentières to La Gorgue Part Four – Croix-du-Bac British Cemetery

  1. Nick kilner says:

    What a jigsaw puzzle this was! But we got there in the end. It certainly took some unravelling didn’t it. I have to say though it was an absolute pleasure to be involved in. I think the real eureka moment was the realisation that it was the Germans who had created the enormous mass grave within the cemetery. Even knowing that it still lead us a merry dance down a lot of blind alleys, not to mention on a few flights of fancy (as well you know hahaha), none of which was helped by the addition of a few red herrings throwing in by the CWGC. All hugely worth while in the end, and another superb post from you on what could easily have remained an entirely unknown series of events. Thank you for the journey.

  2. Steven Oliver says:

    Once again you have done an outstanding report.

    Did you notice any Canadian graves and if so, can you tell me much about it?

  3. Magicfingers says:

    Thank you kindly, Steven. No, no Canadians here; your lot were enjoying a well earned post-Passchendaele rest in the spring of 1918, so were not involved in the Battle of the Lys, and this is a Battle of the Lys cemetery. Other cemeteries we shall visit on this and the following tour, however, cover a much larger timeframe, and we shall find Canadians there.

  4. Daisy says:

    Hello Magicfingers and Nick,

    Excellent detective work gentlemen.

    The Australians in Plot 1, Row A, all appear to casualties of the Battle of Fromelles, mostly 14th Brigade; 54, 55, 56 Battalions, possibly wounded who have died in the aftermath or the following fortnight when in the line at nearby Fleurbaix.
    In Grave 8 is Lance Corporal R.C. Graham, killed on 4 August 1916 and sadly his brother Trooper W.J. Graham of 1st Light Horse Regiment was killed on 7 August 1916 during Battle of Romani in Egypt. Imagine the frightful news back home…


    • Magicfingers says:

      Cheers Daisy. And thanks. Good point on the Fromelles casualties. As you know we follow the whole Fromelles debacle elsewhere on this site, but as I travel I find more men killed during the battle – at some point I shall link them all to the Fromelles posts.

  5. Margaret Draycott says:

    An incredible report M. Well done to Nick the time and patience to uncover all that info. It’s hard to conceive of what it must have been like after the war burying, identifying, finding the dead a Herculaneum job.

    • Nick kilner says:

      Thank you Margaret. It was quite a task working out just exactly what had gone on in this cemetery. As the notes show, the IWGC (as was) were having the same issue as late as 1926, it took them the best part eight years to establish who had been buried, where, when and by whom. Even now there are no guarantees that the numbers are correct, but I think between us we’ve managed to get pretty close to finally unraveling the Croix du Bac conundrum.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thanks M. Bloody hard work at times, so ’twas nice to have Nick to bounce a few ideas off and more. And yes, it is hard to conceive of, and hard to really understand, what really went on during the immediate post-war years. He says mysteriously. Lol.

  6. Jill Johnston says:

    Is there a marked grave for Company Sergeant Major Albert James Roy Dux of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who died on 10th April 1918 at the Battle of the Lys?
    Any information would be very welcome.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Hello Jill. As you will have gathered should you have read the post, Croix du Bac is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, to quote Churchill on something completely different. CSM Dux is remembered by a special memorial headstone (G 20) and is probably actually buried beneath one of the unknown soldier headstones in the cemetery. We shall never know.

      • Jill Johnston says:

        Thank you so much for your very quick reply. Yes I have read the post. It is as I thought, remembered by name on a memorial headstone, but probably buried as an unknown soldier. He was a much loved cousin of my mother. When I was growing up his photo was always displayed on Armistice Day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.