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Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery

Updated: Apr 28


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The German Uhlan Cavalry occupied the area in early October 1914 before retreating. A deciding factor in their retreat was the arrival of the French 87th and 89th Territorial Divisions, With the 89th Division being deployed between Vlamertinghe and Reninghelst. By February 1915 the sector had been handed over to the British.


Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery was started by French troops in 1914 and was taken over by Commonwealth forces in April 1915. It was used by fighting units and Field Ambulances until June 1917, when the land adjoining the cemetery was claimed for a military railway preventing further extension. The cemetery is remarkable for the care with which men of the same unit were buried side by side if they died at about the same time. There is also a very high proportion of graves of Territorial units, in particular Lancashire Territorials, who have nearly 250 graves in plots IV, V and VI. During the early months of 1917, whenever it was possible, the 55th Division brought their dead from the front for burial here.


The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.


Cemetery Location

Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery is located 5 Kms west of Ieper town centre, on the Hospitaalstraat, which is a road leading from the Poperingseweg (connecting Ieper to Poperinge). From Ieper town centre the Poperingseweg (N308), is reached via Elverdingsestraat then straight over two small roundabouts in the J. Capronstraat. The Poperingseweg is a continuation of J. Capronstraat and begins after a prominent railway level crossing. On reaching the village of Vlamertinge ( Vlamertinge is the modern spelling of Vlamertinghe) the cemetery is located on the Hospitaalstraat, which is the second right turning after the village church. The cemetery lies 50 metres along the Hospitaalstraat on the right hand side of the road.


Vlamertinghe Cemetery

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The wrought iron gates were presented by the family of the late Lord Redesdale, whose son, Grave I.E.8 Major, the Honourable Clement Bertram Ogilvy Mitford, D.S.O. ‘A’ Squadron, 10th (Prince of Wales’s) Hussars is buried in the cemetery. He was killed at Frezenberg Ridge on 13 May 1915, age 38. He was the son of the late Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford, Lord Redesdale and Clementina, Lady Redesdale (nee Lady P. Ogilvy); of Batsford Park, Moreton-in-Marsh; husband of Lady Helen Mitford, of Hydecroft, Lowfield Heath, Crawley.








Cavalry Officers

There are other officers from the Cavalry and equally well known families who are buried here and were killed in the fighting at Frezenberg Ridge in May 1915.

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Grave I.G.3 Captain Guy Bonham-Carter, 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal) Hussars, attached from the Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars. Killed on 19 May 1915, age 30. He was the son of the late Alfred Bonham-Carter, C.B., and the late Mary Henrietta Bonham-Carter. He married in 1911, to Kathleen, daughter of Frederic C. Arkwright, of Willersley, Derbyshire. Grave I.D.7 Lieutenant-Colonel E.R.A. Shearman, 10th (Prince of Wales's) Hussars. Killed on 13 May 1915, age 39. He was married to Sibyl Shearman, of Oakwood, Wylam, Northumberland. Grave I.D.6 Captain Gerald Charles Stewart, Adjutant 10th (Prince of Wales’s) Hussars. Killed 13 May 1915, age 28. He was the son of Sir Charles and Lady Mary Stewart, of 24 Eccleston Square, London, and Rockhill, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Grave VII.B.9 6276 Corporal Cecil Edmund Brookes, 8th Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). Killed in action 27 May 1917, age 22. He was the eldest son of Herbert and Lily Brookes, of Willesborough, Kent. After serving over 18 months on the battlefields he was killed on the eve of obtaining his commission. Grave V.C.11 7494 Private Noel Finucane, 1st/10th Battalion The King's (Liverpool Regiment). Killed 4 January 1917, age 26. He was the son of Mary and the late John Finucane, of 52 Strathcona Road, Liscard. Born Bolton. One of the crew of the "Lusitania." Afterwards on the "Aquitania," until the evacuation of Gallipoli.




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One of the Twelve Poets of the Ypres Salient

Grave VI.L.12 2nd Lieutenant Harold Parry, 17th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps. Killed 6 May 1917, age 20. He was the son of David Ebenezer and Sarah Parry, of Bloxwich, near Walsall. Scholar, Exeter College, Oxford; Queen's Prizeman of Queen Mary's School, Walsall; Author of Letters and Poems; one of England's Soldier Poets.





British Airmen Buried Here


Vlamertinghe Village

This was a main route to Ypres and the front line trenches. The roads would have been packed with all kinds of traffic from guns and limbers, General Service wagons moving supplies, ambulances, battalions on the move. In ‘Adventures of a Despatch Rider’, Captain W.H.L Watson recalled his trips along the road to Vlamertinghe in 1915: ‘From Ypres the best road in Flanders runs by Vlamertinghe to Poperinghe. It is good macadam road, doubtless by perfidious Albion’s money, just before the war.’ There were many camps in the surrounding area such as Dirty Bucket Camp, Siege Camp, Dambre Camp, ‘D’ Camp and Hospital Farm Camp. There were also light railways moving men and supplies to the front and bringing wounded back to the Casualty Clearing Stations at Gwalia or Brandhoek. The railway junction at Trois Tours was nearby. Many of the artillery units had their gun pits in the surrounding area which was regularly the recipient of German air raids. The Welsh Guards, on preparing to leave the area in 1917, experienced a German air raid: ‘… there was a most determined and extensive bombing of the whole area – Siege Camp, Vlamertinghe, Elverdinghe, Dirty Bucket Camp all got it in the neck…


Linesman Map

The Vlamertinghe Chateau was used as a headquarters with buildings in the village being used a billets for troops and the many artillery units in the area.


Vlamertinghe Chateau today. Authors image

Field Ambulances

The RAMC established Field Ambulances one was located in the Vlamertinghe Mill, sadly there is no trace of the mill, the site is passed on the left as you leave the village on the Vlamertinghe to Poperinghe road. The scene here in September 1917 was captured by Henry Williamson: ‘ There was a Casualty Clearing Station in the boarded mill beside the road… Two RAMC surgeons, in white aprons, smoked unconcernedly outside. They had been at work on case after case all day. A convoy of motor ambulances was arriving. Lightly wounded men, more or less content, having had their wounds dressed, were sitting in the shade of elms lining the road, smoking and talking as they awaited transport to the train


During the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 Canon Frederick Scott, wrote of the scene at the 2nd Field Ambulance located in the school house in Vlamertinghe: ‘When we reached Vlamertinghe we found that a school house had been taken over by the 2nd Field Ambulance…. As soon as it was dark, the wounded began to come in, and midnight the schoolhouse was filled to overflowing. The men were lying out in rows on the cold stone floor with nothing under them. Ambulances were coming and going as hour after hour passed by. I went among the sufferers, many of whom I knew..’


He moved among the wounded with a sergeant telling him of those who were dying. They were not just from Canadian battalions but also British he wrote: I saw he was dying. He belonged to one of the British battalions I had passed on the road. Like many severely wounded men, he was not suffering much, but was dying of shock…


As well as the school house Vlamertinghe church was also used as a Field Ambulance: ‘We were now compelled to use the church and it also soon became a scene of suffering. The building today is a ruin, but then it had been untouched by shells and was large and impressive..’ He wrote that the Second Battle of Ypres was the making of the Corps.


IWM Q 28995 Vlamertinghe Church showing damage by bombardment, October, 1915.

Victory Cross holder buried here

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Grave II.B.14 Captain Francis Octavius Grenfell V.C., 9th (Queen’s Royal) Lancers, 2nd Cavalry Brigade, Cavalry Division. He was killed 24 May 1915 at Frezenberg Ridge, age 35. His twin brother Riversdale was killed on the Aisne, and they were the cousins of the poet Captain Julien Henry Francis Grenfell D.S.O 1st (Royal) Dragoons who died of a head wound on 26 May 1915 received in the line at Bellewaarde. Francis won his VC at Audregnies for saving the guns of the 119th Battery, royal Field Artillery near Doubon and for bravery against infantry the same day. He was the son of Pascoe Du Pre Grenfell and Sophia, his wife. Educated at Eton, Francis became "Master of the Beagles" in 1898. On leaving Eton in 1899 he joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders. He saw service in the South African War. An extract taken from the London Gazette dated 16th November 1914 records the following:- "For gallantry in action against un-broken Infantry at Andregnies, Belgium, on 24th August 1914, and for gallant conduct in assisting to save the guns of 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, near Doubon the same day."


Ex-Marathon Champion of Scotland

Grave I.F.14 29437 Private James Duffy, 16th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. Died 23 April 1915, age 25. Son of Mr. and Mrs. James Duffy, of 12 St. Mary Street, Edinburgh. Ex-Marathon champion of Scotland.

In response to the German breakthrough following their gas attack on the French lines around Langemark the Canadians were called into action. During the fighting Canon

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Scott recalled an incident when he was in the line as the Canadian 16th Battalion went into the counterattack at Kitchener’s Wood near St Julien: ‘The battalion rose and fixed bayonets and stood ready for the command to charge. It was a thrilling moment, for we were in the midst of one of the decisive battles of the war. A shrapnel burst just as the men moved off and a man dropped in the rear rank. I went over to him and found he was bleeding in the neck. I bound him up… was helping to walk towards the dressing station when I saw what I thought were sandbags in the moonlight. I called out, ‘Is anybody there?’ A voice replied, ‘Yes, sir, there is a dying man here.’ I went over and there I found two stretcher-bearers beside a young fellow called Duffy, who was unconscious. He had been struck by a piece of shrapnel in the head and his brain was protruding. Duffy was a well known athlete and had won the Marathon race. We tried to lift him, but with his equipment on he was too heavy, so I sent the wounded man to Wieltje with one of the stretcher bearers who was to return with a bearer party…When the bearer party arrived we lifted Duffy on to the stretcher, and the men handed me their rifles and moved off… When we got to the dressing station which was a small red-brick estaminet, we were confronted by a horrible sight. On the pavement before it were rows of stretcher cases, and inside the place, which was dimly lighted by candles and lamps, I found the doctor and his staff working away like Trojans. The operating room was a veritable shambles. The doctor had his shirt sleeves rolled up and his hands and arms were covered with blood.

Later, when he was in Vlamertinghe he recalled the military cemetery next to the church where he buried Private James Duffy: ‘..the military cemetery within which lie the mortal remains of many gallant men, amongst them the two Grenfells, one of whom got the V.C. There I buried poor Duffy and many more.


Shot at Dawn

There are two men who were executed during the War and are buried here. Grave II.E.12 29219 Driver Alexander Lamb, 21st Battery, 2nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He deserted on 19 October 1914 and was not captured until 19 June 1915. Following his trial he was executed in the village on 2 October 1915. Grave IV.D.7 12923 Private Albert Rickman, 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 86th Brigade, 29th Division. He deserted on 2 July 1916 after he had taken part in the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was caught on 20 July 1916 and was tried in September 1916, when his Battalion had moved to the Salient, and was executed on 15 September 1916, age 27. The son of Charles and Anne Rickman, of 4 Carrington Terrace, Milford-on-Sea, Hants.


Talbot House connection

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Grave VII.C.15 125023 Gunner H F Pike, 290th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. 30 May 1917. Age 33. The son of Henry and Ellen Pike, of Chelsea, London.


















FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE

Falkirk

9585 Sgt Alexander Strachan Fleming

1st Battalion Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Age 31

9.11.14

A.5

Son of William & Mary Fleming of Glasgow. Husband of Mina Fleming. They had a daughter Margaret and they resided at 9 Victoria Road, Falkirk


Bonnybridge

9618 Private James Cunningham Porteous

2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders

Age 31

26.4.15

I.H.17

Son of Mr and Mrs Andrew Porteous, Broomhill, Bonnybridge.


Burials

The cemetery now contains 1,175 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. The French graves were removed after the war, but three German war graves remain. There are also four Second World War burials dating from the Allied retreat to Dunkirk in May 1940.


UK- 1113

Australian – 4

Canadian – 52

New Foundland – 2

South African – 2

India – 1

German – 3

Known unto God – 1


There are four WWII burials.

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