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Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm)

Railway Dugouts Cemetery is 2 Kms west of Zillebeke village, where the railway runs on an embankment overlooking a small farmstead, which was known to the troops as Transport Farm. The site of the cemetery was screened by slightly rising ground to the east, and burials began there in April 1915. They continued until the Armistice, especially in 1916 and 1917, when Advanced Dressing Stations were placed in the dugouts and the farm. They were made in small groups, without any definite arrangement and in the summer of 1917 a considerable number were obliterated by shell fire before they could be marked. The names "Railway Dugouts" and "Transport Farm" were both used for the cemetery.

At the time of the Armistice, more than 1,700 graves in the cemetery were known and marked. Other graves were then brought in from the battlefields and small cemeteries in the vicinity, and a number of the known graves destroyed by artillery fire were specially commemorated. The latter were mainly in the present Plots IV and VII.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Cemeteries concentrated here

VALLEY COTTAGES CEMETERY, ZILLEBEKE, was among a group of cottages on "Observatory Road", which runs Eastward from Zillebeke village. It contained the graves of 111 soldiers from the United Kingdom and Canada. It was in an exposed position during the greater part of the war.

TRANSPORT FARM ANNEXE was about 100 metres South-East of the Railway Dugouts Cemetery, on the road to Verbrandenmolen. The graves in it were removed to Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Zillebeke, but one officer, whose grave could not found, is specially commemorated here.

Cemetery Location

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm) is located 2 Kms south-east of Ieper town centre, on the Komenseweg, a road connecting Ieper to Komen (N336). From Ieper town centre the Komenseweg is located via the Rijselsestraat, through the Rijselpoort (Lille Gate) and crossing the Ieper ring road, towards Armentieres and Lille. The road name then changes to Rijselseweg. 1 Km along the Rijselseweg lies the left hand turning onto Komenseweg. The cemetery itself is located 1.2 Kms along the Komenseweg on the right hand side of the road.

(Linesman Map)

This cemetery contains the largest concentration of Canadian graves, outside of Tyne Cot and Lijssenthoek, in the Salient. Men from the Canadian Divisions killed holding the line at St Eloi, Hill 62 – Observatory Ridge – Mount Sorrell – Hill 60 during the first half of 1916. Grave VI.J.1 Lieutenant A.N.P. Service, was killed by a shell in Trench 38, Hill 60, on 18th August 1916. He was the brother of Robert Service a famous Canadian poet and who served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He published ‘Rhymes of a Red Cross Man.

In Plot VI, Row 1, is the burial site of men from the 60th Battalion Canadian Infantry. Nineteen of them were killed on 12 August 1916 when the battalion was holding trenches 37 to 42 on Hill 60. The Germans raided the trenches and succeeded in entering the trenches carrying explosives however, they were beaten off by the Canadians who captured the Germans explosives which they handed over the Royal Engineers tunnelling officer. The Canadians casualties included two officers and twenty-six men killed and two officers and fifty-six men wounded.

In Plot II, Row K, there are a number of men who were buried here by the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Twelve of the men died as a result of the German mine blown on 14 February 1916 at trenches 37 to 38 on Hill 60. Also, in this Plot is a mass grave of men from 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who were killed as a result of German shelling of their positions on 2 March 1916 in retaliation for an attack by the 17th (Northern) Division on the Bluff the same day. Fifteen graves in Row D are from several battalions in the 17th (Northern) Division who took part in that attack.

From the fighting during the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917 at Hill 60 there is, at grave row VII.N.5 to 10, a group of six officers from the 11th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. This battalion captured the Hill that day.

Grave VII.M.10 Lieutenant Colonel John Hutton Bowes-Wilson. Age 37, Killed 7 June 1917. Son of Thomas and Maria Bowes-Wilson, of Hutton Rudby, Yorks. Was killed commanding the 9th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, and he was attached from the 1st Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment), and is the most senior officer in the cemetery.

Talbot House connection

Captain George Upton-Robins, 3rd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment attached 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). Age 36. Died 5.5.16. Annexe memorial A.1. Son of George and Flora Upton Robins, of Wheathampstead, Herts; husband of Beryl Robins, of The Cottage, Old Windsor, Berkshire. He was the first cousin of the Rev Tubby Clayton who recalls the search he made for his grave in October 1918: ‘I set out on a grim and rather curious task. I borrowed, as my helpers, some good friends from P. Special Company, together with Lieut. Roberts. (He was Corps ammunition officer). We went to Ypres, now finally deserted; passed through the Square, no longer hurriedly, emerged by the Lille Gate, no longer crouching. Our object was to find, if it were possible, the grave of my first cousin, Captain George Upton-Robins of the Duke of Wellington’s, who had been killed in April 1915. All that we had to guide us was the fragment of a map drawn on an envelope by a brother officer at the time, who had himself been killed a little later on… We know the grave lay somewhere between Gordon House, which had been our front line a few weeks previously, and the railway embankment, honey-combed with dugouts and pitted with the shells which searched for them.’

They had fanned out in search of the grave and spent the afternoon looking when Tubby recalls: ‘Just before dark, incredible good fortune came to our aid. There, in between the shell holes linked and re-linked like a long chain of lakes, one of the searchers came upon a splintered wooden cross plainly belonging to the early period. The horizontal batten which should bear the name itself was nowhere to be found, until one member of our party discovered that the upright was composed not of one beam but two, thrust together. Withdrawing one from the retentive soil, we found that this itself was the old cross-piece and that the pencilled writing could be read. The name upon it was my cousin’s name.’ Some two years later Tubby heard from those who cleared the ground and transferred the body to today’s Railway Dugouts Burial Ground. That the body was that of his cousin.

L/37060 Gunner W H Hall, 189th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Grave VII.B.6/18. Killed 15 June 1917. It was the habit of Rev tubby clayton to spend one day and night each week with one of the three batteries who he referred to as his flock. On the 15 June 1917, he was visiting the 154th Southampton Territorial Heavy Battery located in the fields in front of Transport Farm. He recalled: ‘At Transport Farm, a dressing-station, some of the 6th London Filed Ambulance were then at work. We met some we knew, but it was not a place for any unnecessary delay. A hundred yards beyond there was a field filled with still smoking shell-holes. Across this field our way lay, to a spot in the embankment where the men of the forward section sheltered when off duty, in the famous dug-outs – a series of crumbling caves dug into the embankment, and walled with great planks… The subaltern in charge of

the section was awaiting us, and a considerable body of men gathered within the largest tunnel. As we entered, shelling began again in close proximity, and, as some shells were by their sound gas shells, we dropped the gas curtain behind us. The Communion was then given to the officer and some N.C.O.’s and men, perhaps eighteen in all. Some minutes later and the Act was over. The officer and I went towards the entrance and out a hand upon the gas curtain. It seemed something was impeding its movement. When at last it moved, a body, half fallen against it, lay prone at our feet. Seldom had War done his work with less disfigurement. It was impossible for either of us to realize for a moment that it was death indeed which we beheld. Then both our minds leapt to the same understanding. This lad was one for whom the officer had taken, so far as it might be, peculiar and special thought. It was due to a hint from the officer that I had been much in touch with him, and that I had a fortnight ago brought him and a few others down to Talbot House for their Confirmation. Evidently what had happened was this, He had been on duty at he furthest gun, and stayed perhaps for some adjustment behind the few that were already spared. Hoping to be in time for the Service he had then followed them, and while his friends received, he had died at the entrance without a cry. The truth was evident and too sacred for any words then, or even now.’

Victoria Cross holder buried here

Second Lieutenant Frederick Youens V.C. 13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, 68th Brigade, 23rd Division. Age 24. 7.7.17. Grave I.O.3 Son of Vincent and Lizzie Youens, of "Belgrave," 64, Desborough Park Road., High Wycombe. An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 31st July 1917, records the following- "For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. While out on patrol (Hill 60) this officer was wounded and had to return to his trenches to have his wounds dressed. Shortly afterwards a report came in that the enemy were preparing to raid our trenches. 2nd Lt. Youens, regardless of his wound, immediately set out to rally the team of a Lewis gun, which had become disorganised owing to heavy shell fire. During this process an enemy's bomb fell on the Lewis gun position without exploding. 2nd Lt. Youens immediately picked it up and hurled it over the parapet. Shortly afterwards another bomb fell near the same place; again 2nd Lt. Youens picked it up with the intention of throwing it away, when it exploded in his hand, severely wounding him and also some of his men. There is little doubt that the prompt and gallant action of 2nd Lt. Youens saved several of his men's lives and that by his energy and resource the enemy's raid was completely repulsed. This gallant officer has since succumbed to his wounds."



201402 Private Alexander Gibson

4/5th Battalion Black Watch




10702 Coy Sgt Major James William Taylor

'A' Coy 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders

Age 28



Husband of Eliza Taylor, 4 George Terrace, Camelon. Son of James & Elizabeth Taylor, Falkirk

Denny & Dunipace

G/5332 Private James Kelly

8th Battalion Queens Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment attached 72nd TM Btty


Special Memorial C.24


2274 Private James McCarrol

2nd Battalion Royal Scots

Age 24



Son of Mr & Mrs T McCarrol, North Street, East Bog, Bo'ness


The cemetery now contains 2,459 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 430 of the burials are unidentified and 261 casualties are represented by special memorials. Other special memorials record the names of 72 casualties buried in Valley Cottages and Transport Farm Annexe Cemeteries whose graves were destroyed in later fighting.

UK – 1629

Australian – 154

New Zealand – 3

Canadian – 594

British West Indies – 1

India – 4

Known Unto God – 2

Unnamed – 430

German - 3

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