I didn’t even know this place existed until, literally, the other day.
And as, on checking, I discovered that there’s a single Great War burial here, this afternoon the missus and I went to take a look. There was once a church on this site, but no longer, although the churchyard remains open and used to this day.
It’s only a small churchyard, and I rather think we should explore over there in a minute,…
…but first, the reason for our visit.
This is the Chinnery family plot,…
…and the shield-shaped memorial centre front,…
…marks the grave of Captain Esme Fairfax Chinnery, Coldstream Guards & Royal Flying Corps, who was killed, along with a French test pilot, in a flying accident near Paris in a Voisin aircraft on 18th January 1915, aged 28.
Presumably the circumstances of the accident allowed his body to be returned to Blighty to be buried here.
We saw this from the other side earlier,…
…and it is indeed a war memorial, one I also knew nothing about.
Twenty six names, including another Chinnery, Lieutenant Harry Brodrick Chinnery (pictured below), Kings Royal Rifle Corps, elder brother of Esme, who was killed on 28th May 1916 at Monchy-le-Preux, south east of Arras, aged forty. His company commander wrote of his death, ‘He was in the middle of his men, encouraging them in a moment of danger. He was killed by the last shell fired at a night working party which was advancing our line nearer to the enemy. It was a trying night, and he did splendidly all the earlier part of it in keeping them at their work and keeping up their spirits.’ He is buried in Berles-au-Bois Churchyard Extension, south west of Arras, although his headstone is a special memorial, his original grave destroyed by shellfire, as explained on (and copied verbatim from) the CWGC website, ‘There are now 144 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war, 2 of which are unidentified in this site. Of these, one grave destroyed by shell fire, is represented by a special memorial.’
Incidentally, Harry Chinnery was a decent county cricketer for some years (he played sixty six first class matches for both Surrey & Middlesex between 1897 & 1910 – his brother Esme played just the once for Surrey in 1906), and here displays a fine forward defensive shot (right inset), if I know my cricket. Which I do. The smaller tablet on the memorial…
…remembers five Second World War casualties.
War memorial to the left, Chinnery family plot beyond,…
…and panning left,…
…the cross mentioned on the war memorial in the centre of this shot,…
…and in close-up here.
So many hidden treasures we have in this land of ours, what a great find, I love to wander through churchyards you never know what you might find so good to see the memorial is not forgotten. Marvel at the names of some of these men, how sad that he was killed in a flying accident but then apparently more were killed that way in the First World War than in combat.
Thankyou for finding this M and for sharing, was he actually buried there or is that a commemorative shield?
A lovely find indeed. No, he is actually buried here, but I have no idea the circumstances as to why, or how, his body was returned. It might be something to do with the fact that it was a passenger flight on which he was killed, but I really don’t know the answer.
Good morning. Did you stumble upon this literally? Interesting as always. Thank you
Well, the missus mentioned it to me the other day – ‘Do you remember that cemetery we once saw between the trees as we drove past?’ to which my reply was ‘No’, so off we went to find it. Just like that.
Interesting post thank you
Thanks ever so, Alan.
A fabulous find! Nicely done sir. Great info on the brothers, and really interesting that Esme’s remains were allowed to be returned. Still quite early in the war I suppose, but even so. Berles-au-Bois is a little spot I keep meaning to visit, theres a good sized souterrain there that I doubt anyone has been into since 1918. I really must go and have a poke around one of these days.
Can I come please……..??? Heh heh. Yeah, I was very pleased – the war memorial was a huge bonus! I wonder why his body was allowed back? Quite strange.
Very, unless he was actually mortally wounded by the crash and died back here, but thats not what it says. I’m not sure what date it was actually decided that there would be no repatriation, but it must have been fairly early on.
And you’d be very welcome! 😉