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Ypres Town Cemetery and Extension

Updated: Jan 1


Although there are no Falkirk District men buried here, this is an important cemetery. There are many British Military Cemeteries in the Salient where you can seek out the time for quiet contemplation of the sacrifice made. In this cemetery you will find the paradox of life and death in close proximity, with the sound of passing traffic, the children playing in the nearby gardens of the houses, and the lives of the local community going on. Despite the cemetery’s close proximity to the Menin Gate, it lies in the junction in the road between the Menin Road and the road leading to Zonnebeke, visitors are few and far between. This cemetery is at its most peaceful in the early evening and before the last post can be heard from the nearby Menin Gate.

Ypres Town Cemetery, was used from October 1914 to May 1915, and once in 1918. This is a large cemetery that is still in use and the British burials are in many locations throughout. There is also a large number of I.W.G.C. burials and also a Belgian Military Cemetery.


The Ypres Town Cemetery Extension, on the east side of the town cemetery, was also begun in October 1914 and was used until April 1915, and on two further occasions in 1918. The Extension was much increased after the Armistice when 367 graves were brought in from small cemeteries and isolated positions east and north of Ypres. There are now 598 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in the extension. There are 137 unidentified burials and there are Special Memorials to 16 servicemen known or believed to be buried among them. Second World War burials number 43, of which 13 are unidentified.


The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.


Cemetery Location

Ypres Town Cemetery is located 1 Km east of Ieper town centre, on the Zonnebeekseweg, connecting Ieper to Menen on the N345. From Ieper town centre the Zonnebeekseweg is located via Torhoutstraat and right onto Basculestraat. Basculestraat ends at a main crossroads, and the Zonnebeekseweg is the first left turning. The cemetery itself is located 300 metres along the Zonnebeekseweg on the right hand side of the road.


Son of MP Buried Here

Captain The Hon. Arthur Annesley Eldest son of The Honourable Arthur Annesley, 11th Viscount Valentia, and Laura, Viscountess Valentia of Bletchington Park, Oxford. They had two sons and six daughters. His father was the Conservative MP for Oxford City from 1895 to 1917.


Grave I.B Lieutenant H.H. Prince Maurice Victor Donald of Battenberg K.C.V.O.,


1st Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. Age 23. Died 27 October 1914. Youngest son of Prince Henry and Princess Beatrice of Battenberg and grandson of Queen Victoria.


The 1st Battalion KRRC were deployed on the Keiburg Spur, Broodsiende Ridge near the village of Zonnebeke. As they advanced their progress took them down into a shallow valley and across a minor stream and up the slope toward the hamlet of Keiberg. As they advanced across the road at the top of the ridge the Germans opened fire and Prince Maurice was hit by shrapnel from a bursting shell early in the advance. Despite the attempts of his platoon sergeant to save him and to get him back to the Advance Dressing Station at Zonnebeke he died of his wounds. His body was taken back to Ypres for burial in the military cemetery that had been started in the Town Cemetery. He was laid to rest on 31 October 1914, between the two cemeteries, and his grave was marked with a temporary marker and cross which remained in place until 1921 being replaced by the permanent headstone we see today. The grave also remained in its isolated position between the two cemeteries.


At the time of his death a close cousin and friend, Prince Albert of Schleswig-Holstein, was serving with the German army on another front. He survived the War. A direct cousin of Prince Maurice was the late Lord Louis Mountbatten, whose father, Albert Battenberg, was the uncle of Prince Maurice, who felt it necessary to change the family name to Mountbatten in 1914. The sister of Prince Maurice, Victoria Eugenie (Ena), consort of and later widow of King Alphonso XIII of Spain, regularly visited her brothers grave until her death in 1969.


She had approached the Prince of Wales in his capacity as the President of the IWGC seeking permission to erect a memorial over her brothers grave.

IWM Q 3427 King George V's visit to France and Belgium, 30th November to 10th December 1918. The King paying homage at the temporary grave of Prince Maurice of Battenburg who died in Ypres in October 1914.


King George V refused permission on the grounds that the decision had been taken to mark all British and Commonwealth dead with the same simple headstone and no exception should be made. King George V was the first member of the Royal Family to visit the grave after the Armistice. Queen Elizabeth II paid a visit to the grave in 1950s.


Grave II.D.4 Lieutenant Lord Charles Sackville Pelham, Lord Worsley

Machine Gun Section, Royal Horse Artillery. Age 27. Died 30 October 1914.

Lord Worsley. Son of Charles Alfred Worsley Pelham, 4th Earl Yarborough and the Countess of Yarborough, of Brocklesby Park, Lincolnshire; husband of Lady Worsley, of 8, Great Cumberland Place, London.


The village of Zandvoorde situated on a ridge south-east of Ypres was a critical sector of the line and was defended by elements of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, who were dismounted and being used as infantry, and the 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. To the left were 7th Division. They were opposed by the German 39th Division who were attempting to take the ridge and the road to Zillibeke which would open the way to Ypres. The Household Cavalry had very rudimentary trenches badly sited on a downward slope just south of the Zandvoorde-Tenbrielen Road. On the left flank in trenches close to the road was ‘C’ Squadron, 1st Life Guards and commanded by Captain, the Lord Hugh Grosvenor, and they had a commanding view of the area however, as their positions were on a down-ward slope they were easily visible to the Germans. This was to prove fatal as events unfolded. In the centre of the ‘C’ Squadron’s trench line was the machine -gun section commanded by Lieutenant Lord Charles Sackville Pelham Worsley. He had been ordered to stay behind with his machine-gun when this section of the line was relieved by the Life Guards, as the Life Guards had one of their machine-gun being out of action.


The German onslaught when it came at 6am on the morning of 30 October was ferocious. The Germans opened a devastating artillery barrage of 260 guns focused on the Cavalry positions. At 7.30am the German 39th Division plus three Jager battalions attacked the British lines. The hopelessly thin British lines gave way, with the Cavalry positions being blown in and very quickly overrun. This allowed the Germans to now enfilade the right flank of the 7th Division and to obliterate the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers. At 10am orders were issued to withdraw however, they did not reach the two squadrons of cavalry on the left flank and they suffered almost complete annihilation with inly ten men getting back safely. Worsley was last seen directing the fire of his machine-gun as shells exploded around his position. He was listed amongst the missing along with Lord Grosvenor. The Germans now occupied the ridge and the village of Zandvoorde and moved forward to Klein Zillibeke.


News of Lord Worsley being missing was passed onto the HQ of General Haig, then commanding 1st Corps. He was related to Worsley by marriage and it was said that he was distressed to hear the news. Lord Worsley was officially declared missing on 7 November 1914 and it was announced in January 1915 that he had been killed. A German officer, Oberleutnant Freiherr von Prankh, had found the body of a British officer lying in a trench and upon examining the body had identified him as a cavalryman and a Lord. He gave instructions that the dead man’s personal effects were to be collected, he intended to pass these onto the authorities to return to the next of kin, and he arranged a burial party. However, Prankh was killed two days later and the personal effects of Lord Worsley were lost forever. In July 1924, Lord Worsley’s identity disc, which had been handed in by a Hauptman Fischer, of Infantry Regiment 5/171 and later killed in the War, was found attached to a death list of a German Sanitary Company along with a statement that no other effects had been found. The identity disc was handed over to the family. During the War, the Worsley family had made use of their contacts via the War Office and diplomatic channels in Holland and the American Embassy in Berlin, and had obtained a map of the location of Lord Worsley’s grave site at Zandvoorde.


In December 1918, Colonel A W James M.C., a family friend had been given the map by Lady Yarborough, Lord Worsley’s mother, and on the second attempt he found the grave. The Germans had marked the grave with a rough cross, the cross piece of which had fallen off in the intervening years. Colonel James marked the spot with stones and returned to Zandvoorde where he commissioned a simple cross with the words ‘Lord Worsley, RHG, Oct.30th, 1914’. In January 1919, Colonel James and Sackville Pelham, Lord Worsley’s brother returned to the grave and placed the new marker. They found the cross piece of the German marker and this, along with the upright piece, now hangs above Lord Worsley’s sword in Brocklesby Church in Lincolnshire. In 1921, Lady Worsley, after correspondence with various government agencies, purchased the land on which her husband’s body lay. As part of the concentration of single graves the body was exhumed in 1921, after permission had been given by the Worsley family, and reburied in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension.


The site of the original grave is now marked by the Household Cavalry Memorial which was unveiled in 1924 by the Earl and Countess Haig.


Hooge Chateau 31 October 1914

In Plot III, Row AA are the graves of some of the staff of General Haig’s 1st Corps who were in conference in Hooge Chateau, which was located on the Menin Road at the Hamlet of Hooge, and was being used as the joint HQ for the British 1st and 2nd Divisions on 31 October 1914. Major-General’s Lomax and Munro, General Officers commanding 1st and 2nd Divisions respectively, where in conference there when at 1.15pm the Germans laid down a heavy barrage registering a direct hit on the Chateau Annex. A number of officers were killed, General Munro was stunned and in a state of shock and General Lomax was seriously wounded, dying in England in 1915. With the commands in chaos at a critical juncture in the First Battle of Ypres, General Haig took command and reorganised the command of both Divisions.


The casualties from the shelling in Plot III, Row AA are:


Grave 1 – 20630 Gunner W Marchant. 35th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. He is proof of the IWGC policy of equality in death amongst all ranks. Gunner Marchant died on 31 October with the other officers in this row. What is his connection to the events that day, well if we look at another casualty, not in the Extension, but buried in the military plot by the far boundary wall. Grave E.2.14 Captain Graham Percival Shedden, 35th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, age 28, died from wounds received in the direct hit on the Chateau. Son of George and Alice Shedden, of Spring Hill, East Cowes, Isle of Wight. It may well have been that Gunner Marchant was his batman or driver or maybe even both.


Grave 2Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Jex Blake Percival, D.S.O.. Northumberland Fusiliers. Attached to 2nd Staff, General Staff. Age 43. Cross of the Legion of Honour. Son of the Rt. Revd. John Percival, Bishop of Hereford; husband of Cecil H Percival, of 57, Ovington St, Chelsea, London.


Grave 3Major George Paley. Rifle Brigade. Attached 1st Division Staff, GSO2. Age 42.

Son of William Victor Paley, of Freckenham, Suffolk; husband of Rose Mildred Bloomfield Paley, of Garroch, Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire. Served in the Soudan and South African Campaigns.


Grave 4Colonel Frederic Walter Kerr, D.S.O., Twice Mentioned in Despatches. 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders, Attached as GSO1, 1st Division HQ. Age 47. Son of Admiral Lord Frederic Kerr and Lady Frederic Kerr (nee Maitland); husband of Lady Helen V. L. Kerr, of Lavender Cottage, Breamore, Salisbury.


Grave 5Major Francis Maxwell Chenevix-Trench, Mentioned in Despatches. Attached as Brigade-Major, Royal Artillery 2nd Division Staff. Age 36. Son of Colonel C. Chenevix Trench (late R.A.); husband of Sibyl Bruce (formerly Chenevix Trench), of 11, Carlisle Mansions, Westminster, London.


Grave 6Captain Rupert Ommanney, twice Mentioned in Despatches. Attached as GSO3, Royal Engineers, 2nd Division Staff. Age 36.


IWM Q 57200 The image shows the left wing of Hooge Chateau as seen from the road, 31 October 1914. The destruction was caused by the bursting of an 11 inch shell, killing or wounding several staff officers, among whom was Colonel Percival. Baron Vinck, the owner, had left the chateau a few minutes before the shell burst.


Grave D1.8 Lieutenant Philip John Egerton - Killed by friendly fire

1st Battalion Border Regiment attached 2nd, 20th Brigade, 7th Division. Age 32. Died 17 October 1914. Son of Hubert and Annie Egerton, of St. Michael's Lodge, Chislehurst. Served in the South African War. The Battalion was in the line around Kruiseeke on 16 October when, in the early hours of the morning, he was severely wounded by his own platoon when he lost his way and walked in front of the lines. He died on 17 October from his wounds.


Men and Women of the IWGC

In Plot III, Row A, are nineteen graves of the men and women of the IWGC later CWGC who died in retirement after giving years of service and dedication in looking after the graves of the fallen in the Salient.


Burials

The Ypres Town Cemetery contains 145 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, grouped in plots among the civil graves.


UK – 142

India – 1

IWGC – 49


Extension


UK – 462

Australian – 13

Canadian – 15

South African – 1

India – 1

German – 2

Unnamed – 137

WWII – 42 UK & 1 Canadian


There are Special Memorials to sixteen British dead believed to be buried here among the unnamed.

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