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Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


The town of Poperinghe (now Poperinge) was of great importance during the First World War because, although occasionally bombed or bombarded at long range, it was the nearest place to Ypres (now Ieper) which was both considerable in size and reasonably safe. It was at first a centre for Casualty Clearing Stations, but by 1916 it became necessary to move these units further back and field ambulances took their places. The earliest Commonwealth graves in the town are in the communal cemetery. The Old Military Cemetery was made in the course of the First Battle of Ypres and was closed, so far as Commonwealth burials are concerned, at the beginning of May 1915.


The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

There are two men from Falkirk and District buried here.


Cemetery Location

Poperinghe New Military Cemetery is located 10.5 Kms west of Ieper town centre, in the town of Poperinge itself. From Ieper, Poperinge is reached via the N308. From Ieper town centre the Poperingseweg (N308), is reached via Elverdingsestraat then directly over two small roundabouts in the J. Capronstraat. The Poperingseweg is a continuation of the J. Capronstraat and begins after a prominent railway level crossing. On reaching the town of Poperinge, the left hand turning from the N308 leads onto the R33 Poperinge ring road. 1 Km along the N33 lies the right hand turning onto Deken De Bolan. The cemetery is located 100 metres from the ring road level with Onze Vrouwedreef on the right hand side of the road.


The New Military Cemetery was established by the French at the end of April 1915 and in June 1915 it was taken over by the British and is located 200 yards down the road opposite the site of the old Chateau Elizabeth. Between July 1915 and March 1916, eight Belgians, all serving in the 7th Belgian Field Artillery Regiment were buried here. The Belgian Field Artillery Regiment was fighting in support of the British from May 1915 to

May 1917. Among the burials are two Belgian nurses, Martha Declerq and Euphrasie Vanneste, who both died in July 1917. The French Plot contains the graves of soldiers from the French colonies.


Belgian Officer, Emile Robert Edouard Laveleye

Buried here, and later moved to the Lebbe family vault in the Communal Cemetery, was a Belgian officer of the Field Artillery Regiment, Emile Robert Edouard Laveleye, he acted as a liaison officer between the Belgians and the British. A branch of the Lebbe family had resided at what was to become Talbot House from the mid-18th century to 1910. He was the son of a Belgian nobleman, Edouard, and of Florence Wheeler of Hastings. He married Dora-Mabel Newchurch in Victoria, British Columbia in 1912 were they lived in wealth and comfort on their estate. At the outbreak of the War he sold up his estate and moved to London with his wife and children were he volunteered in the Belgian artillery.


He was killed in action at St Eloi on 20 March 1916. Tubby Clayton recalls presiding over the funeral: ‘I had a very touching experience on Wednesday, of the kind that really helps one…. an Abbe accompanied by a Belgian Officer came to call. The purpose of their visit was to ask me to officiate at the funeral of a Belgian artillery man, who had been killed the night before, and who was believed to be an English Churchman..’ He went with a sergeant of the Coldstream Guards in the pouring rain to the Chateau D’Hondt: ‘We arrived in good time at the Belgian Hospital, and opening the main door found ourselves at once in the Chapel – the hall of the ex-chateau. Here lay the coffin under the Belgian flag. Behind it, a beautiful kind of lantern veil screened the sanctuary, whether to guard it from our unorthodoxy or as a seasonal hanging I could not judge and did not ask. I robed in the Matron’s room… and then returned to the Chapel to find it full of Belgian soldiers in their metal hats; about twenty Officers and the Matron and two Sisters were also there facing me.’ He slowly read the first part of the Prayer Book service and then the burial party moved off out of the hospital Chapel into the pouring rain to the cemetery.


Two Officers of the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company

Buried in Graves 1.EI.I and 1.EI.2.

At Hill 60, on the 25 April 1917, a tragic accident occurred. Alexander Barrie, in his book 'War Underground, the Tunnellers of the Great War' recounted what happened: 'The two officers Captain Wilfred Avery and Lieutenant Arthur Tandy, were preparing a guncotton priming charge that was to be used to fire an ammonal camouflet. They passed a light current through the detonators after inserting them in the explosive (this should have been done before) and the charge, 50lbs. of it promptly fired. Avery and Tandy were blown to pieces and the entire dug-out they were in was wrecked; the blast flashed on through the corridor and into the Proto storeroom to take more casualties there.'


Total casualties were three officers and seven men dead, four officers and twelve men gassed, many seriously. Barrie recounted the clearing up by Captain William McBride, who he described as a large and cheery extrovert mining engineer from Adelaide: 'He found sand almost filling the dug-out and sieved as much of it as possible, extracting the remains of the two distinguished officers which he wrapped in blankets and sent down for burial with the other bodies.' McBride was awarded the M.C. for completing this terrible task.

Authors image

Authors image

Grave I.F.17 70076 Sapper Henry William Hanna, 115th Company, Royal Engineers. Obtained a First Class Honours, MSc, BSc from Manchester and Oxford Universities and was killed by a shell burst on 28 February 1916 and buried here. Age 25. He was the son of William and Caroline Hanna, of 18, Brook Road., Fallowfield, Manchester. Born Whitehaven. Telegraphist Harold Brooke (TA) recounted the story of his friends death: ‘We have been plunged into gloom by the death of Harry Hawkins and ‘Joe’ Hanna, which occurred today. Whilst out with a working party…. A shell pitched about five yards from the back of the lorry and a splinter cut right through the floor, some slashed the side, and others went through the roof. Harry and Joe were on the tail board and caught the full force of the explosion. Joe pitched forward, killed instantly, but Harry lingered, apparently, for about an hour at the dressing station, happily, as far as anyone could judge, free from pain… They were buried at the Military Cemetery on the Poperinghe-Reninghelst road, nearly opposite the Chateau Elizabeth. Life is cheap here, but as circumstances permit, the dead are given such honour as active service will allow… I with Bill Banton, Poole, and George Martin, acted as bearers to Joe. God grant that we do not have to go through such a ceremony again – it is terrible.’ Sapper Henry George Martin, one of the bearers was killed later in the war and is also buried here.

Grave I.B.29 Lieutenant Edmund Joseph Maxwell-Stuart, 175th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, age 23 was killed on 26 April 1916. He was the son of Edmund and the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell Stuart, of Balworth Park, Arundel, Sussex. One of four brothers killed.


There are a number of senior officers buried here including eleven Major’s and four Lieutenant-Colonels: Raymond V Doherty-Holwell, DSO, Royal Engineers and Assistant Director of Signals, VIII Corps HQ was killed on 9 January 1917. Sir Robert B.N Gunter, 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, age 46, died of wounds on 16 August 1917. Herbert S Smith, DSO, commanded the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and was killed on 22 October

1915. G.H. Baker, age 38, was the son of a Canadian Senator and a member of the Canadian House of Commons. He died of wounds received on 2 June 1916 during the German attack on Hill 62.


Grave II.G.35. Captain Hugh Henry Lean, M.C. Highland Light Infantry, age 29, the son of Maj.-Gen. K. E. Lean, C.B., and Mrs. Lean (nee Quin). While acting as Brigade-Major 153rd Infantry Brigade, while walking around the trenches with his G.O.C. Brigadier-General A F Gordon, on 29 July 1917, they were struck by the same shell. Lean was killed and General Gordon mortally wounded. Captain Lean had always been unlucky having been wounded four times previously. Early in the war he was severely wounded, for a time losing his sight. At Arras he received a severe scalp wound from the same shell that killed the Brigade Intelligence officer, with whom he was walking. In his next tour he was struck on the elbow by the nose-cap of a bursting shell. A few days before he went into the line in July 1917, he spoke of a premonition of being killed in the coming operations. He was.

Grave I.D.11 Captain James Henry Webster Hay, age 41, who was acting as Adjutant to 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, when he was killed on 30 November 1915. Husband of Mrs. Hay, of 21, Birchdale Rd., Waterloo, Liverpool. Born Anstruther. Served in the Sudan Campaign. Long Service Medal.


Grave I.F.12 Staff Sergeant James Pick, 192nd Company, Royal Army Service Corps. He was murdered on 11 February 1916. His killer was Driver Thomas Moore who was executed and buried at Busseboom on 26 February for the crime. Moore’s body could not be found after the war and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate.


Talbot House Connection

Grave II.G.9 1286 L/Cpl Oliver C Haines, Military Police (Foot Branch), age 22, killed 3 September 1916. Son of Charles and Ann Haines, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Tubby Clayton writes of him: ‘..I stumbled tonight on a dear old fried – a bobby who like myself was here last autumn and has just come back. Alas! His old pal- and a great friend of mine – was killed near Talbot House on Sunday, with his leave papers in his pocket, and his banns called for the third time at home.’ Oliver Haines and his friend Harold Cook, had signed the Talbot House visitors book on 21 December 1915 with a poem:


Think of me in the morning

Think of me in the night

Think of me when I am far away

And don’t forget to write

(Quoted from his book ‘A Touch of Paradise in Hell’, Jan Louagie)

A poignant event occurred on 28 May 1916. Grave II.D 1106034 Sergeant G.J.M. Pegg of the Canadian Army Service Corps, age 39, was killed, by a German shell that hit the verandah at Talbot House, after writing a joint letter home with his brother. Husband of Rachel Pegg, of 618, Spence St., Winnipeg.


Shot at Dawn

This cemetery has the notoriety of containing the largest number of men executed on the western front and buried in one place. There are seventeen men who were executed in Poperinghe for various offences under the terms of the British Army Act. Their graves can be found in Plot II. This is the highest concentration of men anywhere on the Western Front. As the Court Martials took place when the battalions were out of the line in the rest camps, and Poperinghe was one of the most important centres for rest camps on the Western Front, many of the Court Martials and executions took place here. Grave II.H.2 10701 Private James H Wilson, 4th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Canadian Expeditionary Force, he deserted on 13 June 1916 during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, Observatory Ridge. He was executed on 9 July 1916. Grave II.H.3 416874 Private Comte LaLiberte, 3rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Canadian Expeditionary Force, he deserted on 4 August 1916. Age 25. He was the son of Luger and Eugenie Hamel Laliberte, of 170, St. Ferdinand St., Montreal. Grave II.J.7 3/4071 Private John Bennett, 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment, 11th Brigade, 4th Division. He had already seen action during the July battles on the Somme – the battalion lost 585 men on the first day – he lost his nerve during a German gas attack on the battalions trench positions in the Salient on 8 August and deserted. The gas attack accounted for 101 men from the 4th and 29th Divisions who are buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery. He was charged with cowardice in the face of the enemy and executed on 28 August 1916. Age 19, he was the son of John Bennett, of 37, Vernon Rd., Bow, London. Grave II.F.7 12772 Private Albert Botfield, 9th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. Age 28. He had deserted from an entrenching party near Contalmaison on the Somme on 21 September 1916. His battalion had moved north to the Salient and he was tried on a charge of cowardice. He was executed on 18 October 1916 in the inner courtyard of Poperinghe Town Hall. Grave II.H.9 2554 Private Richard Stevenson, 1/4th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 164th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. He had deserted at Fricourt on 7 September 1916 and was captured four days later. His battalion moved to the Salient and he was tried for desertion and executed on 28 October 1916. Grave II.D.9 2974 Private Bernard McGeechan, 1/8th The King’s (Liverpool Regiment), 164th Brigade, 55th (West Lancashire) Division. He was already under arrest for desertion in September 1916 when his battalion moved to the Salient. He was executed on 2 November 1916. Grave II.F.9 4242 Private Reginald T Tite, 13th Battalion (3rd South Downs) Royal Sussex, 116th Brigade, 39th Division. Age 27. He had been charged with cowardice during the fighting at Thiepval on the Somme on 21 October 1916 and tried on the Somme. His battalion moved to the Salient and he was executed on 25 November 1916 at Wormhoudt in the Northern France and brought to Poperinghe in the back of a lorry for burial. He was the son of Mrs. Harriet J. Tite, of 56, Downes St., Old Kent Road, Peckham. His brother and two cousins who also served in the 13th Royal Sussex were also killed in the War. Grave II.E.9 G/11296 Private William Henry Simmonds, 23rd (2nd Football) Middlesex Regiment, 123rd Brigade, 41st Division. Age 23. He had deserted on the Somme and was executed on 1 December 1916 when his battalion had moved to the Salient. He was the son of William and Emily Simmonds, of 18, Sidney Terrace, Bedfont Lane, Feltham, Middlesex. Grave II.A.11 Second Lieutenant Eric Sheffington Poole, 11th West Yorkshire Regiment, 69th Brigade, 23rd Division. Age 31. He was the first officer (one of three) executed during the War. Returning to duty, after being wounded by shrapnel, he constantly suffered from bouts of hesitancy and disorientation. He deserted from his battalion trenches near Bailleul and at his trial, charged with desertion in the face of the enemy, on 21 November 1916, his plea that he suffered from shell-shock was ignored. He was executed at Poperinghe Town Hall on 10 December 1916. He was the son of Henry Sheffington Poole and Florence Hope Gibsone Poole, of 2, Rectory Place, Guildford, Surrey. Born Nova Scotia. Grave II.B.14 34595 Private James Crampton, 9th York and Lancaster Regiment, 70th Brigade, 23rd Division. Age 39. He was attached to a Royal Engineers unit and deserted from the line near Armentieres. He was executed on 4 February 1917. (Served as GRAMPTON, J). He was the son of George and Elizabeth Crampton, of Scarborough, Yorkshire. Grave II.D.14 16120 Private John W Fryer, 12th (Bermondsey) East Surrey Regiment, 122nd Brigade, 41st Division. Age 23. Already under a suspended sentence of death, he deserted again when the battalion was in the line at St Eloi. He was executed on 14 June 1917. Grave II.H.24 23586 Private James S Michael, 10th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 46th Brigade, 15th Scottish Division. He deserted and evaded capture for a few months before being picked up and returned to his battalion. He was executed on 24 August 1917. Grave II.F.41 88378 Private Joseph Stedman, 117th Company, Machine Gun Corps. Age 25. The son of Henry Patrick and Sarah Stedman, of Liverpool. He had complained that he could not stand the constant bombardments and walked away from a captured German trench near St Julian on 1 August 1917. He was captured five weeks later and executed on 5 September. Grave II.F.42 13216 Sergeant John Thomas Wall, 3rd Battalion Worcester Regiment, 7th Brigade, 25th Division. Age 22. The son of William and Harriet Wall, of Hill Cottages, Bockleton, near Tenbury, Worcestershire. He had seen continuous action since 1914 and had served with the battalion at Bellewaarde Ridge in 1915 when it suffered heavy casualties. The battalion was back on the ridge once again on 17 August 1917 when he deserted. Captured he was executed on 6 September. Grave II.F.44 8833 Private George Everill, 1st North Staffordshires, 72nd Brigade, 24th Division. Age 30. He was the son of Mrs. E. Everill, of 40, Mount Pleasant, Shelton, Hanley; husband of Mrs. L. Everill, of 7, Southampton Street., Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. He had a poor disciplinary record with a several attempts at desertion. He deserted on 24 August when his battalion was moving from Dikkebus to the front-line. He was captured the next day and executed on 14 September. Grave II.F.45 7429 Private Herbert Morris, 6th Battalion, British West Indies Regiment. Age 17. He was the son of William and Ophelia Morris, of Riversdale P.O., St. Catherine, Jamaica. He was terrified of shelling. He received no assistance from his battalion medical officer, when his company was deployed to the Burnt Farm area, over the canal opposite Essex Farm, and he deserted. Despite not being of the age to serve overseas he was executed on 20 September 1917. Grave II.J.34 15605 Private Frederick C Gore, The Buffs 7th Battalion (East Kent Regiment), 37th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. Age 19. He was the last soldier to be executed in Poperinghe. He had deserted twice and been charged with cowardice. At his court martial he pleaded that his nerves cracked every time he had to face heavy bombardments however, this did not impress his battalion medical officer or the court martial. He was executed on 16 October 1917.


FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE


Falkirk

344401 Gunner Matthew Russell

42nd Heavy Artillery Group, Royal Garrison Artillery

Age 19

15.7.17

II. D. 27

Son of the late Pte. William and Annie Russell, of Falkirk


Links to the area

32035 Private Charles McCallum

44th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps

Age 38

12.8.15

I.G.6

Husband of Christina McCallum & had six children, 30 Montrose Street, Lochore, Fife. Born in Bo'ness


Burials

The New Military Cemetery contains 677 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 271 French war graves.


UK – 596

Australian – 20

New Zealand – 3

Canadian – 55

British West Indies – 2

Chinese Labour Corps – 1

French – 275

German – 1


After the Armistice 118 Belgian burials were removed.

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