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Menin Road South Military Cemetery

Updated: Feb 24


The Menin Road ran east and a little south from Ypres (now Ieper) to a front line which varied only a few kilometres during the greater part of the war. The position of this cemetery was always within the Allied lines. It was first used in January 1916 by the 8th South Staffordshires, 51st Brigade, 17th (Northern) Division and the 9th East Surreys, 72nd Brigade, 24th Division, and it continued to be used by units and Field Ambulances until the summer of 1918. The cemetery was increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated positions on the battlefields to the east.


The Royal Canadian Regiment and the Royal Highlanders of Canada set up wooden memorials in this cemetery to their dead in the Battle of Mount Sorrel, June 1916 (these were removed when the cemetery was constructed).


The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.


Cemeteries concentrated here

MENIN ROAD NORTH MILITARY CEMETERY was on the North side of the road at almost the same point. It was used by the units and Field Ambulances of another Corps from May 1915 to August 1916, and again to a small extent in 1917 and 1918. It contained the graves of 130 soldiers from the United Kingdom, three from Canada, and three from Newfoundland.


Cemetery Location

Menin Road South Military Cemetery is located 2 Kms east of Ieper town centre, on the Meenseweg (N8), connecting Ieper to Menen. From Ieper town centre the Meenseweg is located via Torhoutstraat and right onto Basculestraat. Basculestraat ends at a main crossroads, directly over which begins the Meenseweg. The Cemetery is located 800 metres along the Meenseweg on the right hand side of the road.

(Linesman map)


Victoria Cross holder buried here

2nd Lieutenant (acting Captain) Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, 24th Brigade, 8th Division. Age 21. Died 31 July 1917. Grave II.E.1. The son of Thomas Colyer Fergusson and the late Beatrice Stanley Colyer Fergusson, of Ightham Mote, Sevenoaks, Kent. Born in London. His brother Max Christian Hamilton Colyer-Fergusson fell in the 1939-1945 War. An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 30272, dated 4th Sept. 1917; records the following:- "For most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading and determination in attack. The tactical situation having developed contrary to expectation, it was not possible for his company to adhere to the original plan of deployments and owing to the difficulties of the ground and to enemy wire, Captain Colyer Fergusson found himself with a Serjeant and five men only. He carried out the attack nevertheless and succeeded in capturing the enemy trench and disposing of the garrison. His party was then threatened by a heavy counter-attack from the left front, but this attack he successfully resisted. During this operation, assisted by his Orderly only, he attacked and captured an enemy machine gun and turned it on the assailants, many of whom were killed and a large number driven into the hands of an adjoining British unit. Later, assisted only by his Serjeant, he again attacked and captured a second enemy machine gun, by which time he had been joined by other portions of his company, and was enabled to consolidate his position. The conduct of this officer throughout forms an amazing record of dash, gallantry and skill, for which no reward can be too great, having regard to the importance of the position won. This gallant officer was shortly afterwards killed by a sniper."


Dugout & Bunker

This masonry-clad concrete bunker is located outside the cemetery perimeter wall and in the grounds of a private house.


FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE


Falkirk

34640 Pte Archibald Breingan

1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment

Age 26

30.10.17

III.H.17

Husband of Caroline Breingan of 16A Grahams Road


Denny & Dunipace

158915 Gunner John Ritchie

204th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery

Age 26

19.10.17

III.L.18

Son of John & Mary Ritchie, Haircraigs Cottage,


Polmont

61126 Gunner William McAlonan

81st Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

20.3.16

I.G.28


Links to the area

6331 Driver William McGowan

3rd Field Ambulance, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, A.I.F.

Age 27

18.9.17

I.U.23

Husband of Elizabeth Markie Stevens McGowan, they had a son & lived at Dovercourt Street, Toowong, Queensland. Son of Robert & Ann McGowan of Bo'ness


Burials

There are now 1,657 servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 118 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials are erected to 24 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. In addition, there are special memorials to 54 casualties who were buried in Menin Road North Military Cemetery, whose graves were probably destroyed by shell fire and could not be found. These are numbered between 1 and 57.


UK – 1051

Australian – 263

New Zealand – 52

Canadian – 145

British West Indies – 3

German – 1

Know unto God – 65

Unnamed 121


There are Special Memorial to twenty British men and four Australians known/believed to be buried among the unnamed. There are Special Memorials to fifty-two British and three New Foundland men buried in the Menin Road North Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

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