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Voormezeele Enclosure No.3

Updated: Mar 31, 2023


The Voormezeele Enclosures (at one time there were a total of four, but now reduced to three) were originally regimental groups of graves, begun very early in the First World War and gradually increased until the village and the cemeteries were captured by the Germans after very heavy fighting on 29 April 1918.


Voormezeele Enclosure No.3, the largest of these burial grounds, was begun by the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in February 1915. Their graves are in Plot III, the other Plots from I to IX are the work of other units, or pairs of units, and include a few graves of October 1918. Plots X and XII are of a more general character. Plots XIII to XVI were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated sites and smaller cemeteries to replace the French graves (of April and September 1918) that were removed to a French cemetery. These concentrated graves cover the months from January 1915 to October 1918, and they include those of many men of the 15th Hampshires and other units who recaptured this ground early in September 1918.


Cemeteries concentrated here

Eikhof Farm Cemetery, was located south of Oak Dump Cemetery and east of St Eloi. It contained nineteen British burials from June 1917. Elsenwalle Chateau Cemetery, this was located in the grounds of the chateau and contained thirty British burials who were killed between February to June 1915, mainly from 1st Battalion Wilshire Regiment and Honorable Artillery Company, both from 7th Brigade, 3rd Division. Haringhebeek Cemetery, Kemmel, this was located to the east of the La Laiterie Cemetery and contained thirteen British burials from 7 June 1917. Pheasant Wood Cemetery, this was located south-east of St Eloi on the Dammstrasse and contained thirteen British burials from July and August 1917. Vijverhoek Brasserie Cemetery, this was located on the northern edge of Dickebusch Lake near the road. It contained sixteen British burials, one Canadian, and one from New Zealand, all were killed during April, May and October 1918.


The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.


Cemetery Location

Voormezeele Enclosure No.3 is located 4 Kms south-west of Ieper town centre on the Ruusschaartstraat, a road leading from the Kemmelseweg (connecting Ieper to Kemmel N331). From Ieper town centre the Kemmelseweg is reached via the Rijselsestraat, through the Lille Gate (Rijselpoort) and straight on towards Armentieres (N365). 900 metres after the crossroads is the right hand turning onto the Kemmelseweg (made prominent by a railway level crossing). Turn right onto the Kemmelseweg and follow this road to the first crossroads, turn left here into Ruusschaartstraat. The Cemetery is located 1 Km after this junction on the left hand side of the road just before Voormezeele Dorp.

(Linesman Map)


Authors image

Grave XIII.B.26/27 Lieutenant John Brown M.C., 6th Battalion attached 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. Age 27. Died 11 April 1918. Son of John and Isabella Brown, of Newton, Gateside, Fife. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh and Balliol College, Oxford. He enlisted in September 1914 serving initially in ‘A’ Company, 9th Battalion Royal Scots and went to Ypres at the end of February 1915. The Battalion were billeted in Dickebusch Huts Camp and then moved forward to spend 24 hours in the frontline trenches relieving the 2nd Cameron Highlanders who he described as ‘..quite little men, to whom war was a trade, not an experience.’ They then spent nights in working party’s around St Eloi digging and improving trenches with the Royal Engineers. He wrote: ‘The road up to St Eloi had one great advantage over that up to the brasserie, that till we were near Voormezeele there were never stray bullets to worry us. But Voormezeele was not a cheering spot. Bullets kept whacking against the walls of the houses. The whole of the middle of the church had been blown away.


The battalions had men who had been trained as bombers, hand grenade throwers, and the bombs in the early days were rudimentary. John Brown’s company was selected to be trained as bombers: ‘We tried to joke about it, and say that we would get plenty of elbow room in the trenches, but we were very gloomy for a few days. We drew up a set of hints to young bombers.’ Number three on their list was ‘Always have a fuse a foot long.


Towards the end of May 1915 the Battalion was in position on the Ypres-Vlamertinghe Road when John Brown was severely wounded and he was sent back to ‘Blighty’ and to Leicester Hospital. Recovered from his wounds he was commissioned in August 1915 into the 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders seeing action at Vimy, the Somme, and Arras. He was invalided home in August 1916 suffering from Trench Fever and returned to France in January 1917 where he joined the 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. On the 9th April the Battalion captured the village of St Laurent Blangy during the Battle of Arras, he was wounded again and he was awarded the Military Cross for his part in the action. He was sent home to recuperate from his wounds and arrived back in the Salient where he joined the 9th Battalion (Pioneers) Seaforth Highlanders at Vierstraat in April 1918. On the 10th April the Battalion was in Brigade Reserve at Piccadilly Farm and on the 11th April, while holding a trench against a German attack near Wytschaete John Brown was killed by a sniper.


He was an accomplished poet writing verse throughout the War and recording his experiences. While at Balliol College in 1911 he wrote a poem that was based on the legend of Achilles, which he entered in the Newdigate Prize and it ended with this verse:


And thus the music of Achilles’ life

Burst from it prison, singing its sweet song

Unheard but by the soul. Meanwhile the strife

Of war rekindled round him; but its sound

Sung him that love in life was ne’er so strong

As love that passed, at death, laughing beneath the ground.


FALKIRK AND DISTRICT MEN BURIED HERE

Stenhousemuir

202171 Private J McFarlane

4th/5th Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

Age 28

24.4.18

XIV.K.8

Son of Mrs Peter McFarlane, Williamson Buildings, King Street


Burials

There are now 1,611 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Voormezeele Enclosure No.3. 609 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of five casualties whose graves in Pheasant Wood Cemetery could not be found on concentration.


UK – 1481

Australian – 8

New Zealand – 2

Canadian – 100

South African – 1

Known unto God – 1

Unnamed – 612


There are Special Memorials to twelve British men and three Australians known or believed to be buried here. There is also a Special Memorial to five British men who had been buried in Pheasant Wood Cemetery and whose graves were destroyed and lost during the fighting.

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