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Poelcapelle British Cemetery

Updated: Nov 17, 2023


Poelcapelle (now Poelkapelle) was taken by the Germans from the French on 20 October 1914, entered by the 11th Division on 4 October 1917, evacuated by Commonwealth forces in April 1918, and retaken by the Belgians on 28 September 1918.


The formal layout clearly marks this as a concentration cemetery. The great majority of the graves date from the last five months of 1917, and in particular October, but certain plots (IA, VIA, VIIA, LI and LXI) contain many graves of 1914 and 1915. Poelcapelle British Cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and the following smaller cemeteries:-


HOUTHULST FOREST NEW MILITARY CEMETERY, LANGEMARCK, near the South side of the Forest, on the road from Poelcapelle to Houthulst. Here were buried a number of French soldiers, as well as 21 soldiers and two airmen from the United Kingdom, who fell in the winter of 1917-18. KEERSELAERE FRENCH CEMETERY, LANGEMARCK, about 800 metres West of the hamlet of Keerselaere, in which 29 French soldiers, five Canadian and two from the United Kingdom were buried in 1915, apparently by the enemy. PILCKEM ROAD GERMAN CEMETERY, LANGEMARCK, on the South-West side of the bridge over the Hannebeek, in which 13 soldiers from the United Kingdom and one from Canada were buried by the enemy in 1914-17. POELCAPELLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY, in which one soldier from the United Kingdom was buried in 1915. POELCAPELLE GERMAN CEMETERY No.2, nearly 1.6 Kms South-East of the village, which contained the graves of 96 soldiers from the United Kingdom and Canada who fell in 1914-15. ST. JEAN CHURCHYARD, in which 44 soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried in 1915, but which was completely destroyed in later fighting. STADEN FRENCH MILITARY CEMETERY, made by the 169th Infantry Regiment and containing the graves of 80 French soldiers and one R.A.F. Officer. VIJFWEGEN GERMAN CEMETERY No.1, close to the railway halte, in which three soldiers from the United Kingdom were buried by the enemy.


The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.


Cemetery Location

Poelcapelle British Cemetery is located 10 Kms north-east of Ieper town centre on the Brugseweg (N313), a road connecting Ieper to Brugge. Two streets connect Ieper town centre onto the Brugseweg; Torhoutstraat leads from the market square onto the Kalfvaartstraat. At the end of Kalfvaartstraat is a large junction on which Brugseweg is the first right hand turning. The cemetery itself lies 10 Kms along the Brugseweg on the right hand side of the road after passing through the village of Poelkapelle.


Georges Guynemer

At the roundabout in Poelcappelle there is a monument to French air ace Georges Guynemer who was killed in a dog-fight over the village of Poelcappelle on 11 September 1917. He was a member of the Escadrille des Cogognies, the flying stork emblem of the squadron, sits on the top of the Monument and is said to be pointing in the direction Guynemer was flying when he was shot down. His body was recovered but subsequently lost in the artillery bombardments in the area.









Church Bells

The church in Poelcappelle village, like most churches in the towns and villages in the Salient, was destroyed during the War. The bells of the new church are cast from the metal from shell-cases collected in the area. The bells weigh some 16,000lbs.


The youngest battle casualty of the First World War




Among those buried in the cemetery is 6322 Private John Condon, 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment, 12th Brigade, 4th Division, He died on 24 May 1915, age 14, and is thought to be the youngest battle casualty of the First World War commemorated by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission. Grave LVI.F.8. He was the son of John and Mary Condon, of Waterford. Much has been researched about John Condon and there is some doubt as to his age as recorded by the CWGC.






There are two Falkirk and District men buried here.


FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE


Falkirk

27460 Cpl Gilbert Logan

18th Battalion Highland Light Infantry

Age 23

26.10.17

VIII. C. 17

Son of Archibald G. and Margaret Wyseman Logan, "Nosiroon," Rennie Street, Falkirk


Camelon

S/3030 Pte James Fleming

10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders

Age 19

12.10.17

XXXIX.D.10

Son of James and Margaret Fleming, 9 Cherry Lane, Camelon, Falkirk.


Burials

There are now 7,479 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Poelcappelle British Cemetery. 6,230 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate 8 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate 24 servicemen buried by the Germans in other burial grounds in the area whose graves could not be located. There is also 1 burial of the Second World War within the cemetery.


UK – 6541

Australian – 117

New Zealand – 237

Canadian – 525

New Foundland – 9

South African – 10

Jersey – 4

Unnamed – 6231

WWII - 1

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