Cemeteries

Tobruk Military Cemetery

Leaving the port of Tobruk on the main road to Alexandria, Tobruk War Cemetery is located about 7 kilometres inland, set back about 100 metres along an access track branching from the left side of the road, and clearly visible from the road.

Tobruk is a Mediterranean port with an excellent deep water harbour. During the war it was important to Allied and Axis forces alike, for the reception of supplies and reinforcements. In January 1941, it was taken from the Italians by General Wavell's forces, and after the clearance of the demolitions in the harbour the port was usable and proved invaluable. When Rommel commenced his drive across Cyrenaica towards Suez it was deemed essential that Tobruk be held, and the resulting siege lasted from 11 April to 10 December 1941, when the Axis forces were driven back. They recovered far more quickly than was expected and by early February 1942, it was the Allies turn to fall back towards a line running southwards from Gazala to Bir Hakeim. Again orders were given to hold Tobruk, but it fell to Rommel on 21 June. It was retaken five months later by the Eighth Army in their final sweep along the North African coast into Tunisia.

Tobruk War Cemetery incorporates the burial ground used during the siege and the memorial erected there at the time by the Australians has been replaced by a permanent memorial of similar design. Many battlefield graves in the desert have been brought into the cemetery. There are now 2,282 Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War buried or commemorated in Tobruk War Cemetery. 171 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery also contains 171 war graves of other nationalities, most of them Polish.

Uden War Cemetery, Holland

Uden was occupied by the Germans until its liberation in September 1944. In the earlier years of the war Commonwealth and Allied servicemen were buried in the garden of the parish priest which adjoined the Roman Catholic Cemetery. Later it became necessary to provide another burial ground for them and in 1943 the municipality acquired the Roman Catholic Cemetery, unused since about 1918, for this purpose. After the war more than 100 graves from the garden of the parish priest, and also a number of isolated graves from various parts of the commune, were moved into this cemetery. Uden War Cemetery now contains 701 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War (two of them unidentified) and two Polish war graves.

Bari War Cemetery, Italy

On 3 September 1943 the Allied invasion of the Italian mainland began with landing in the south near Reggio and, a few days later, in the Gulf of Salerno. The invasion coincided with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. Allied objectives were to draw German troops from the Russian front and more particularly from France, where an offensive was planned for the following year. The site of Bari War Cemetery was chosen in November 1943. There was no serious fighting in the vicinity of the town, which was the Army Group headquarters during the early stages of the Italian campaign, but it continued to be an important supply base and hospital centre, with the 98th General Hospital stationed there from October 1943 until the end of the war. At various times, six other general hospitals were stationed at Trani and Barletta, about 48 km away.

Besides garrison and hospital burials, the cemetery contains graves brought in from a wide area of south-eastern Italy, from the 'heel' right up to the 'spur'. Here too are buried men who died in two disastrous explosions in the harbour at Bari, when ammunition ships exploded in December 1943 (during a German air raid) and April 1945. Bari War Cemetery contains 2,128 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 170 of them unidentified. There are also some non war burials and war graves of other nationalities.

The cemetery also contains 85 First World War burials, brought in from Brindisi Communal Cemetery in 1981. Most of these burials are of officers and men of the Adriatic drifter fleet which had close associations with Brindisi during the First World War.

St. Manvieu War Cemetery

The Allied offensive in north-western Europe began with the Normandy landings of 6 June 1944. Those buried in St. Manvieu War Cemetery died during the fluctuating battles from mid June to the end of July 1944, in the region of Tilly-sur-Seulles and Caen. The cemetery contains 1,627 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 49 of them unidentified. There are also 555 German burials.

Goerdon Dump Cemetery Ovillers - La Boiselle France

Gordon Dump Cemetery is 2 kilometres north-east of Albert, on the right hand side of D929 Albert-Bapaume. At Y junction (102nd Infantry Brigade Memorial) nearby the Routiers restaurant, turn right onto D20 and follow through Ovillers/La Boisselle. After 2 kilometres the Cemetery is signposted onto a 300 metre grass track. Historical Information: On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 8th Division attacked Ovillers and the 34th Division La Boisselle. The villages were not captured, but ground was won between them and to the south of La Boisselle.

On 4 July, the 19th (Western) Division cleared La Boisselle and on 7 July the 12th (Eastern) and 25th Divisions gained part of Ovillers, the village being cleared by the 48th (South Midland) Division on 17 July. The two villages were lost during the German advance in March 1918, but they were retaken on the following 24 August by the 38th (Welsh) Division. Plot I of the Cemetery was made by fighting units after 10 July 1916 and closed in September when it contained the graves of 95 soldiers, mainly Australian. It was called variously Gordon (or Gordon's) Dump Cemetery or Sausage Valley Cemetery, from the name given to the broad, shallow valley that runs down from it to Becourt. The remainder of the cemetery was formed after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the 1916 battlefields immediately surrounding the cemetery. There are now 1,676 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 1,053 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 34 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

Arras Memorial

The Arras Memorial is in the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery, which is in the Boulevard du General de Gaulle in the western part of the town of Arras. The cemetery is near the Citadel, approximately 2 kilometres due west of the railway station.

The French handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917. The Commonwealth section of the FAUBOURG D'AMIENS CEMETERY was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulances and fighting units until November 1918. The cemetery was enlarged after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields and from two smaller cemeteries in the vicinity. The cemetery contains 2,651 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. In addition, there are 30 war graves of other nationalities, most of them German. During the Second World War, Arras was occupied by United Kingdom forces headquarters until the town was evacuated on 23 May 1940. Arras then remained in German hands until retaken by Commonwealth and Free French forces on 1 September 1944. The cemetery contains seven Commonwealth burials of the Second World War.

The graves in the French military cemetery were removed after the First World War to other burial grounds and the land they had occupied was used for the construction of the Arras Memorial and Arras Flying Services Memorial. The ARRAS MEMORIAL commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. The most conspicuous events of this period were the Arras offensive of April-May 1917, and the German attack in the spring of 1918. Canadian and Australian servicemen killed in these operations are commemorated by memorials at Vimy and Villers-Bretonneux. A separate memorial remembers those killed in the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.

Assevent French National Cemetery Grave/Memorial

Assevent is a village and commune in the Department of the Nord, two miles east of Maubeuge, in the valley of the Sambre. The French National Cemetery ("Cimetiere National Mixte") is an extension of the Communal Cemetery; it was begun by the Germans in 1914, and enlarged after the Armistice. It contains the graves of 925 French soldiers (of whom 537 are unidentified) and 346 German; and in the South-West corner are the graves of four men of the 12th Lancers who fell in August, 1914, and three unidentified soldiers from the United Kingdom.

The cemetery, covering 10,038 square yards, is well laid out and planted, and contains a German monument.

Salonika Lembert Road Military Cemetery

The Cemetery is on the northern outskirts of Thessalonika, it lies on the west side of the road to Seres, Langada Street, adjoining the Roman Catholic, French and Italian War Cemeteries.

At the invitation of the Greek Prime Minister, M.Venizelos, Salonika (now Thessalonika) was occupied by three French Divisions and the 10th (Irish) Division from Gallipoli in October 1915. Other French and Commonwealth forces landed during the year and in the summer of 1916, they were joined by Russian and Italian troops. In August 1916, a Greek revolution broke out at Salonika, with the result that the Greek national army came into the war on the Allied side. The town was the base of the British Salonika Force and it contained, from time to time, eighteen general and stationary hospitals. Three of these hospitals were Canadian, although there were no other Canadian units in the force.

The earliest Commonwealth burials took place in the local Protestant and Roman Catholic cemeteries. Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery (formerly known as the Anglo-French Military Cemetery) was begun in November 1915 and Commonwealth, French, Serbian, Italian and Russian sections were formed. The Commonwealth section remained in use until October 1918, although from the beginning of 1917, burials were also made in Mikra British Cemetery. After the Armistice, some graves were brought in from other cemeteries in Macedonia, Albania and from Scala Cemetery, near Cassivita, on the island of Thasos. There are now 1,648 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. The Commonwealth plot also contains 45 Bulgarian and one Serbian war graves.

Thiepval Memorial

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions.

The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November 1916 with the onset of winter. In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918. The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.

Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension

Achiet-le-Grand was occupied by the 7th Bedfords on 17 March 1917, lost on 25 March 1918 after a defence by the 1st/6th Manchesters, and recaptured on 23 August 1918. From April 1917 to March 1918, the village was occupied by the 45th and 49th Casualty Clearing Stations. Achiet station was an allied railhead. The communal cemetery and extension were used by Commonwealth medical units from April 1917 to March 1918. The extension was also used by the Germans to a small extent in March and April 1918, and again by Commonwealth troops in August 1918.

After the Armistice Plot III and most of Plot IV were made when 645 graves, mainly of 1916 and March and August 1918, were brought in from the battlefields round Achiet and from other burial grounds.

The Communal Cemetery contains four Commonwealth burials of the First World War.

The Extension contains 1,424 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 200 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to eight casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of ten casualties buried in other cemeteries whose graves could not be found. There are also 42 German war graves in the extension. The following were among the burial grounds from which British graves were removed to the Extension. Achiet-le-Grand german Cemetery, on the road to Bihucourt, in which one soldier from the United Kingdom was buried by the Germans, and five by their comrades in August, 1918. Achiet-le-Petit Communal Cemetery and the German Extension on the East of it. The former contained the graves of three soldiers from the United Kingdom and one from New Zealand, buried by the Germans. The latter was begun by the Germans, carried on by the 1st Bedfords and other units in August, 1918, and completed after the Armistice by the concentration to it of 360 German Graves; it contained, in all, the graves of 50 soldiers from the United Kingdom, 39 from New Zealand and 1,147 German.

Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord)

Bailleul was occupied on 14 October 1914 by the 19th Brigade and the 4th Division. It became an important railhead, air depot and hospital centre, with the 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 53rd, 1st Canadian and 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Stations quartered in it for considerable periods. It was a Corps headquarters until July 1917, when it was severely bombed and shelled, and after the Battle of Bailleul (13-15 April 1918), it fell into German hands and was not retaken until 30 August 1918.

The earliest Commonwealth burials at Bailleul were made at the east end of the communal cemetery and in April 1915, when the space available had been filled, the extension was opened on the east side of the cemetery. The extension was used until April 1918, and again in September, and after the Armistice graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields and the following burial grounds:- PONT-DE-NIEPPE GERMAN CEMETERY, on the South side of the hamlet of Pont-de-Nieppe, made in the summer of 1918. It contained German graves (now removed) and those of a soldier and an airman from the United Kingdom. RENINGHELST CHINESE CEMETERY, in a field a little South of the Poperinghe-Brandhoek road, where 30 men of the Chinese Labour Corps were buried in November 1917-March 1918. BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY contains 610 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 17 of the graves were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials. BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION contains 4,403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War; 11 of the graves made in April 1918 were destroyed by shell fire and are represented by special memorials. There are also 17 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War and 154 German burials from both wars.

Both the Commonwealth plot in the communal cemetery and the extension were designed by Sir Herbert Baker. In the centre of the town is a stone obelisk erected by the 25th Division as their Memorial on the Western front, recalling particularly the beginning of their war service at Bailleul and their part in the Battle of Messines. The town War Memorial, a copy of the ruined tower and belfry of the Church of St. Vaast, was unveiled in 1925 by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, the City which had “adopted” Bailleul.

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