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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, which was used from October 1914 to March 1915. 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 served a casualty clearing hospital that was located in a chateau on the Deken De Bolaan, and was owned by a local justice of the peace Mr D’Hondt, this was located to the left of the cemetery. It was also used as a civilian hospital to treat typhoid patients and there was also a ward for the 7th Belgian Field Artillery. The chateau was never rebuilt after the War and many of the decorative stones have been used as façade embellishments to nearby homes, particularly numbers 45 to 55.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. There are two Falkirk and District men buried here.

The oldest grave is that of 6377 Rifleman Harry Marriot, 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, age 29, grave I.L.5. He died on 23 October 1914. He was the son of William and Hannah Marriott, of 20, Hawksley Road, Nottingham. His is a double grave shared with 3611 Guardsman A. Wardle, Coldstream Guards, grave I.L.6. He died on 25 October 1914. In the large central plot are the burials from April – May 1915 of which 30 are men of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and their commanding officer Captain Rupert C.Y. Dering, who died of his wounds received in the fighting at Hill 60 between 17-19 April 1915. Also buried here is Lieutenant-Colonel Russell Lambert Boyle, 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry, grave II.M.54. He died as a result of the first German gas attack in April 1915 at St Julien.

The graves of about 800 French and Belgian soldiers and nearly 500 civilians were removed from the cemetery after the Armistice. For the most part, the civilians died in an epidemic of typhoid at the end of 1914.

Cemetery Location

Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery is located 10.5 Kms west of Ieper town centre, in the town of Poperinge itself. From Ieper, Poperinge is reached via 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 200 metres from the ring road level with the junction with Polenlaan, on the right hand side of the road.

The cemetery is enclosed by a red brick wall and beyond the wall, on the right hand side as you enter the cemetery, is the bedding of the old Hazebrouck to Poperinghe light railway. It is now a public walkway and cycle path named after a local café/bar ‘A la Promenade de Quintan’, Quinten’s Wandeling (Quinten’s Walk). The light railway and sidings serviced the camps and dumps along the southern side of the Poperinghe to Vlamertinghe road and linked with the light railway network that serviced the whole area behind the front line.

Shot at Dawn

44735 Wang Ch’un Ch’ih was a member of the 107th Company, Chinese Labour Corps. He was found guilty of murdering a colleague and was executed on 8 May 1919 at Poperinghe Town Hall.

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