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Birr Crossroads Cemetery

The cemetery was in the frontline next to a Dressing Station and was begun in August 1917 and in use until the Germans took this area during their 1918 Spring offensive. It was used as a concentration cemetery after the Armistice with 650 graves concentrated here. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The nine irregular rows of graves in Plot I are the original pre-armistice burials. The cemetery was named by the 1/Leinsters, after their depot in Ireland, when they occupied this area in 1915. The line of the road was changed after the War with Cambridge Road, on the northern side, being moved one hundred metres to the east along the Menin Road.

This map from April 1917, shows Birr Crossroads and the Cambridge Road to the north, and the British and German trenches.

(Linesman Map)

Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge

In June 1915, an attack by 7th Brigade, 3 Division, was made on the Bellewaarde Ridge. The attack was launched from opposite Birr Crossroads from ‘Y’ Wood, (see map above), it was a small copse that resembled the letter ‘Y’, to Railway Wood and towards Bellewaarde Ridge. Battalions that took part in this ill-fated attack include the Royal Scots Fusiliers, Liverpool (Scottish) and the Honourable Artillery Company. The Bellewaarde Ridge gave the Germans excellent views over the British lines from their positions on the Ridge and at Hooge. Suggested reading on the Battle of Bellewaarde includes:

· The Battle of Bellewaarde June 1915, Carole McEntee-Taylor

· Mud and Khaki, H. S Clapham, Honourable Artillery Company

· Armageddon Road A VC’s Diary 1914-1916, Billy Congreve

· Valour in the Trenches, ‘Bombo’ Pollard VC, MC, DCM, Honourable Artillery Company in the Great War

(Picture of the 10th Battalion, Liverpool (Scottish) at the Battle of Bellewaarde, 16 June 1915

Cemeteries concentrated here

Bellewaarde Ridge Cemetery which was located to the northeast of the Bellewaarde Lake, almost on top of the low hill which rises northwards from the Menin Road between Hooge and ‘Clapham Junction’ and this contained eleven British and seventeen Australians who were killed during the fighting of Third Ypres in September and October 1917. Birr Crossroads Cemetery No.2, this was located 75m to the south of No.1 (the present cemetery) and there were eighteen graves from the fighting in July and August 1917 moved. Union Street Graveyards No’s 1 & 2 these were due north of Zillibeke village, between ‘Gordon House’ and ‘Hellfire Corner’. They contained the graves of nineteen British dead from the fighting in August and September 1915.

Victoria Cross holder Grave reference Special Memorial 7.

He has a Special Memorial because he is believed to be buried with a group of men, most of whom are amongst the 336 unnamed graves.

Captain Harold Ackroyd, M.C., V.C., Royal Army Medical Corps, age 40, attached to the 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s), 53 Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. He was awarded his V.C. posthumously for his bravery at Hooge on 31 July/1 August 1917 during Third Ypres. There were twenty-three recommendations that he should receive the V.C. He was shot in the head by a sniper at ‘Glencorse Wood’ on 11th August 1917. He was the son of Edward Ackroyd, of Southport; husband of Mabel R. Ackroyd, of Link Lodge, Malvern Link. An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 4th Sept. 1917, reads as follows: "For most conspicuous bravery. During recent operations Capt. Ackroyd displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. Utterly regardless of danger, he worked continuously for many hours up and down and in front of the line tending the wounded and saving the lives of officers and men. In so doing he had to move across the open under heavy machine-gun, rifle, and shell fire. He carried a wounded officer to a place of safety under very heavy fire. On another occasion he went some way in front of our advanced line and brought in a wounded man under continuous sniping and machine-gun fire. His heroism was the means of saving many lives, and provided a magnificent example of courage, cheerfulness, and determination to the fighting men in whose midst he was carrying out his splendid work. This gallant officer has since been killed in action." His V.C. was presented to his widow, accompanied by his young son, at an investiture at Buckingham palace.

British Mile Champion and Olympic Team Member

99906 Gunner George Butterfield

230th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery

Age 37



George was born in Stockton-on-Tees and was married to Mary Cecilia Hypatia Butterfield and they had a son, Charles Ronald. George was a ‘Darlington Harrier’, a AAA mile champion three times from 1904 to 1906, and in 1906 he held the world record for the mile, 4 minutes 18.6 seconds. He competed in the 1908 London Olympics in the 800m and 1500m but failed to qualify for final. He did beat a greyhound on a specially staged race! He was killed on 24 September 1917 when an enemy shell hit his battery.

Cemetery Location

The cemetery is located on the south side of the Menin Road, 3kms east of Ieper and 900m past Hellfire Corner.



20973 Pte Michael Crosby

2nd Auckland Reg

Age 32



Son of Matthew Crosby, of 1, Wee Row, Bankside, Bainsford, Falkirk


350128 Coy Sgt Major Joseph Dent

14th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders



Burials - 863

UK – 625

Australian – 140

New Zealand – 12

Canadian – 15

New Foundland – 1

South African – 1

British West Indies Regiment – 1

Known unto God – 11

Unnamed - 336

There are Special Memorials to five British men and three Australian known or believed to be buried amongst the unnamed. There are Special Memorials to eighteen British men buried in Birr Crossroads No.2 Cemetery and Union Street Graveyards whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

There is one Special Memorial to Serjeant Camille Jean Edouard De Wattine, age 22, from Brussels. He was a Belgian interpreter attached to General HQ and was killed on 29 September 1918. His grave was lost.

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