Sanctuary Wood Cemetery (Lest We Forget)

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery is one of the many Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission cemeteries that lie in the countryside around Ypres (Ieper) in Belgium.

It lies near T’Hooghe (Hooge) off the Canadalaan (Canada Lane) itself coming off the Meenseweg (the Menin Road of dreadful memory.) Buried or commemorated in the cemetery are 1,989 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War of whom 1,348 are unidentified. For information about the cemetery see here.

I note from the link that this cemetery is the resting place (in Plot IV. D. 14) of Captain Robert Frederick Balfour, 1st Battalion Scots Guards who died on 28th October 1914, aged 31. He was the son of Edward Balfour, of “Balbirnie,” Markinch, Fife. I live a couple of hundred yards or so from the Balfours’ former home, Balbirnie House.

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery entrance:-

Entrance, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Hooge, near Ypres

Stone of Remembrance and Cross of Sacrifice from entrance:-

Stone of Remembrance and Cross Sacrifice, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Information board:-

Information Board, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery


Graves, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Graves from south:-

Sanctuary Wood Cemetery Graves from South

I found one German War grave in the cemetery, Flieg Hauptmann Hans Roser, F Fliegerabt 3, 25/7/1915:-

German War Grave, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

Just outside Sanctuary Wood Cemetery there is a private memorial in memory of Keith Rae, 2nd Lieutenant, 8th Battalion the Rifle Brigade, “who died on this spot, 30/7/1915, in his 26th year.” “Also in memory of his brother officers and men who fell on the same morning and afternoon.”

No individual memorials were/are allowed inside Imperial/Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. Whatever their differences in life (not least in military rank) in death it was decided that all should be treated equally, with identical headstones. Apart from name rank, number and their regimental insignia (and a special marking in the shape of that award if the deceased had won a Victoria Cross) only an inscription chosen by the deceased’s family and situated to the bottom of the headstone distinguishes one from another.

I presume this memorial was allowed by the Belgian authorities since it lies beyond Sanctuary Wood Cemetery’s boundaries:-

Private Memorial Outside Sanctuary Wood Cemetery

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    […] memorial lies at the end of Canadalaan (see here) and commemorates the efforts of the Candian Corps in defending the southern parts of the Ypres […]

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