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Dochy Farm New British Cemetery

Updated: Oct 15, 2022



This cemetery is a concentration cemetery created after the Armistice. It has a formal layout that shows it was not present during the fighting for this ridge. The farm after which the cemetery is named was captured by the 4th New Zealand Brigade, on 4 October 1917 during the Battle of Broodseinde, and was situated across the main road and down the slope.


The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.


Looking across the valley to Gravenstafel Ridge you can see the Memorial to the New Zealanders, an obelisk in a small copse.

Tyne Cot Cemetery can also be seen on Abraham Heights, an area also fought over in October 1917 by the New Zealanders.


Cemetery Location


Dochy Farm New British Cemetery is located 7 kilometres north-east of Ieper town centre on the Zonnebekestraat, a road leading from the Zonnebeekseweg (N332) connecting Ieper to Zonnebeke. Two roads connect Ieper town centre onto the Zonnebeekseweg. The Torhoutstraat leads from the market square onto a small roundabout. Take the first right turn which is Basculestraat. At the end of Basculestraat there is a crossroads and Zonnebeekseweg is the turning to the left. 7 kilometres along the Zonnebeekseweg, in the village of Zonnebeke, lies the left hand turning onto the Langemarkstraat (further on this street name changes to Zonnebekestraat). The cemetery lies 1.5 kilometres along this road on the left-hand side.


Second Ypres April 1915


On April 22, 1915, during the German gas attack the 85th and 11th Brigades were positioned along this ridge as far as Vancouver Corner, location of the Canadian Memorial, and the French at Langemarck. On the 23 April, British regiments were trying to re-establish the line that had been penetrated the day before, and Divisional reserves had been deployed to assist the Canadians on the left and filling the line from Langemarck to Boesinghe, some also near this cemetery.


The British established a Rapid Reaction Corps under the command of Colonel A Geddes of the Buffs, it comprised elements of 3rd Middlesex, 4th Rifle Brigade, 2nd King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 2nd Buffs, 1/9th (Highlanders) Royal Scots, 1st York and Lancasters, 1/5th King’s Own and 2nd Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Despite their efforts they could not hold the German advance and they, along with the British front line, were pulled back.


Zonnebeke


One of the ways to reach the cemetery is to come through Zonnebeke which was a strategically important location and the centre of fierce fighting throughout the War. Between 19 to 21 October 1914, the Germans tried to turn the flank of 7th Division but the 22nd Brigade held the line until they were forced to retire on 22 October. On the 23 October the French retook Zonnebeke before being relieved by the British 2nd Division who held the line from here to Reutal.


Following the German offensive in May 1915, the British consolidated their line and the Germans occupied Zonnebeke and they held the town until the British took it back on 26 September 1917 during Third Ypres. The Germans retook it once again in April 1918 during their Spring Offensive. It was taken by the Belgian Army in September 1918 by which time nothing of the town remained standing.

(IWM Q 8581 The ruins of Zonnebeke Church, 6 March 1918. McLellan, David (Second Lieutenant) (Photographer)


There is a Memorial plaque on the wall of the west outer wall of the Church to D/21 Battery, Canadian Field Artillery who had their guns positioned here and were almost the only defenders of Frezenberg Ridge in April 1915.


Victoria Cross winners


Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake

Captain, later Lieutenant-Colonel Martin-Leake, RAMC, V.C. and Bar was with 5 Field Ambulance in the line near Zonnebeke Church in November 1914 and it was here that he won his Bar to the V.C. that he had been awarded in South Africa in 1902. The Advanced Dressing Station was located in a ‘White House’ at a junction of two lanes 500 yards from the front line. Lightly wounded cases were brought here by regimental stretcher bearers or walked in to have their wounds treated and then moved on down the line. The more severe cases were kept at ‘White House’ until nightfall when they were transported five miles by horse ambulance to the Dressing Station on the Ypres-Vlamertinghe Road, were the bulk of 5 Field Ambulance was located. On the 6 November he wrote of his billet in his diary: ‘ At present I am living in quite a good house with every comfort and plenty of coal in the cellar. The only disadvantage is that it has been smashed up a good deal by shells, and we have to be content without any glass in the windows. We have shelter-pits to go to in the daytime when they begin to shell. The nights are always quiet and, when the wounded have been sent off, we have great peace and comfort. We had roast pig for dinner today. The beast was reported to have died from shell wounds!!


His family had to wait for the official account of his V.C. to be published in February 1915 for a detailed account of his actions at Zonnebeke. Major-General C.C. Monro, Commanding 2nd Division had no hesitation in supporting the award in his recommendation to BEF HQ at St Omer dated 26 November 1914. On 28 November 1914 General Douglas Haig, commanding I Corps agreed: ‘Captain Leake, RAMC, has repeatedly done most gallant acts and I concur in recommending that a bar for the V.C. (which he holds) be granted.


In August 1917 Arthur Leake was with 46 Field Ambulance attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division located at Red Farm near Brandhoek. Late at night on 2 August an ambulance cam in carrying Captain Noel Chavasse, V.C. RAMC of the Liverpool Scottish. His face was unrecognisable from the flash burns sustained in the shell explosion he also had an abdominal wound. He was not taken out of the ambulance but was sent on direct to 32 CCS further along the road at Brandhoek were he died on 4 August. He is buried in the New Military Cemetery at Brandhoek. Arthur had seen him and only later did the meeting assume any significance for him. On 14 September 1917 it was announced that Captain Noel Chavasse had been posthumously awarded a Bar to his V.C. He and Arthur were the first two and both won their Bars while carrying out their duties as Army doctors. From Zonnebeke, were Arthur Martin-Leake won his, to Wieltje were Noel Chavasse in the winning of his, is a distance of a few miles.


Captain Lanoe George Hawker

Hans Roser, German pilot was a victim of Captain Lanoe George Lance Hawker, 6th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps who, because of his actions on 25 July 1915, became the first man to receive a V.C. for air combat. Hawker brought down three German planes in one morning before crashing into the lines at Zonnebeke. This combat was also the subject of the first communique issued by the Royal Flying Corps it read: ‘On the 26 July, Capt Hawker in a Bristol Scout attacked two hostile machines; one at Paschendaele at 6pm and one over Houthoulst Forest at 6.20pm. Both machines dived to escape. Capt Hawker then climbed to 11,000 feet and at 7pm saw a hostile machine being fired at by anti-aircraft fire at about 10,000 feet over Hooge. Approaching down-sun Capt hawker opened fire at about 100 yards range. The hostile machine burst into flames and turned upside down, the observer falling out. The machine and pilot crashed to earth south-east of Zillebeke in our lines.’

(IWM Q 67598 Image Capt Lanoe George Hawker)


Afterwards, the body of the observer was found and maps showing several German artillery positions were recovered. Hawker wrote of the action: ‘.. I had come on him from behind unawares – and he burst into flames and crashed into our lines. I felt sorry for him when he fell in flames, but war is war and they have been very troublesome of late.’ He visited the site of the crash and recovered the Iron Cross of the pilot from the wreckage, it had cracked from the heat of the fire. Hawker, who was later promoted to Major and also awarded the distinguished Service Order, was shot down and killed by the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen, on 23 November 1916 near Luisenhof Farm on the Somme. His body was lost, and his name is listed on the RFC and RAF Memorial to the Missing in Arras.


Action of the 15th (Scottish) Division on 31 July 1917


The 15th (Scottish) Division was moved forward to support the attack on Frezenberg Ridge. The attack of the 16th (Irish) Division had stalled in front of the German strong points at Beck House and Borry Farm. On the 17 August 46th Brigade took over the whole of the right sector of V Corps front from the 16th (Irish) Division. This Brigade had occupied this ground a fortnight earlier and the situation had not changed from then to now. Operations were also greatly hampered by the state of the ground and the weather conditions. It was the task of the Division to take these strong points and both 44th and 45th Brigades had spent the 19 August practicing the attack. On that day both Brigades also moved to Toronto Camp, nearer the front line and on the night of the 20/21 August relieved 46th Brigade and part of the 183rd Brigade of 61st Division in the front line in preparation for the attack on the 22 August. On the 21 August a patrol of the 11th Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders got as far as Beck House and threw bombs into it. On a report that the house was unoccupied half a platoon went forward to occupy it only to be met by a strong party of Germans and they withdrew to a trench some 50 yards to the west of the house.

(Linesman Map. Dochy Farm is shown top middle)


At 4.45am the attack was launched under the cover of a creeping barrage and fire from thirty-two machine guns and within thirty seconds the German counter barrage came down on the line Frezenberg to Square Farm and their machine guns began to take their toll of the 44th Brigade before they had even left their trenches. On the right the fate of the leading companies of the 13th Royal Scots and the 11th Argyll’s of the 45th Brigade was unknown as they had run into heavy machine gun fire and no information could be sent back or support sent up. Two hours after the attack started the company commander of the left front company of the Royal Scots had only nine men and one Lewis-gun team remaining. The few men of the Royal Scots and Argyll’s who returned were rallied on a line north-west from Railway Dump along the road running to Beck House.


FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE


Bo’ness

2nd Lieutenant Eric Lieuellen Jamieson

11th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Age 31

22.8.17

II.C.17

Son of Robert and Isabella Jamieson. His father was Bo’ness Town and Harbour Clerk.


Burials

The cemetery now contains 1,439 burials and commemorations of the First World War.


UK – 523

Australian – 305

New Zealand – 98

Canadian – 81

New Foundland – 1

South African – 17

Known Unto God – 412

Unnamed - 958

Special Memorials – to one British soldier and one Australian believed to be among the unnamed.

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