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Commonwealth War Graves, Ypres Town Cemetery. Lest We Forget

Ypres Town Cemetery sits beside the Menin Road, not far from the Menin Gate in Ieper, (Ypres) Belgium.

It contains a number of Commonwealth War Graves of Great War dead.

I noted that these were all casualties from 1914. They were no doubt interred here since at that time there was no Commonwealth War Graves Commission to oversee the burials and these would have been done on an ad hoc basis. After the war they will have been given the honour of a CWGC headstone.

Commonwealth War Graves, Ypres Civil Cemetery

Commonwealth War Graves, Ypres Town Cemeery

Reverse view of above:-

Ypres Twon Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves

Several graves lay close together. Cpt Robert Giffard, Royal Field Artillery, 1/11/1914. Cpt A A L Stephen, DSO, Scots Guards, 31/10/1914. Cpt & Adjt W H Ferrar, Welch Regiment, 31/10/1914:-

agraves 3

2nd Lt J A Tucker, Royal Field Artillery, 1/11/1914. Cpt G P Shedden, Royal Garrison Artillery, 31/10/1914. Cpt J F Allen, Loyal North Lancs Regt, 5/11/1914 aged 32:-

Three Commonwealth War Graves, Yores Town Cemetery

Captain Shedden’s grave is unusual in having a separate memorial stone cross behind the CWGC one. This may have been erected by his family before the CWGC headstone and is probably only there because the cemetery is not in the care of the CWGC, where all headstones are the same shape and, beyond wording carved into the bottom of the stone, such individual commemorations are not allowed.

Commonwealth War Graves, Dyce

These are some of the war graves at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery by St Fergus’s Church, Dyce. Most are from World War 2. Two are women who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAFs.)

Flight Lieutenant D M Poynter, RAF, 24/12/1941, aged 26, Sgt D A Farmer, Southern Rhodesia, Pilot, RAF, 1/1/1942, aged 21, Sgt H J Kelley, Air Observer Royal Canadian Air Force, buried near this spot, 19/1/1942, aged 23. Note Great War 100th anniversary bench in background:-

World War 2 Graves, Dyce Cemetery

Pilot Officer N Taylor, Royal Canadian Air Force, 5/12/1942, aged 25, Sgt R A Milliken, Royal Australian Air Force, 19/1/1942, aged 22, buried near this spot, Sgt B C Dickson, Royal Australian Air Force, 19/1/1942, aged 22:-

Dyce War Graves

Sgt J B Riley, RAF, 19/1/1942, aged 23, A C W First Class M A Miller, Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, 30/5/1943, Sgt R J Jackson, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force, 19/1/1942, aged 21, Flying Officer J W Thomson, DFC, Pilot, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 19/1/1942, aged 28:-

4 War Graves, Dyce

Flight Sergeant, E J Morrow, Royal Canadian Air Force, 23/5/1942, aged 21, Pilot Officer L G D Thomas, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, Royal Canadian Air Force, 23/5/1942, qged 19, Sgt A Walker, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force, 27/4/1942, aged 19:-

3 War Graves, Dyce

Sgt D G Allen, Pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force, 28/5/1942, aged 20, Aircraftman First Class W F Dunbar, RAF, 16/6/1942, aged 20:-

2 War Graves, Dyce

Fl Sgt G Braddock, Royal New Zealand Air Force, 29/8/1943, aged 24, Sgt A F Smith, RNZAF, 29/8/1943, aged 24, Fl Lt H L Flynn, Royal Canadian Air Force, 15/12/1944, aged 23:-

Dyce, 3 War Graves

The following are of post-war deaths; Corporal M N J Grose, WAAF, 9/9/1945, aged 25, Squadron Leader, A L Carrie, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 2/8/1950:-

Military Graves, Dyce

Three more graves of post-Second World War dead are nearer the entrance. Flying Officer W S Leonard, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 3/4/1955, aged 24, Squadron Leader W M Hallam, RAF, 10/5/1952, aged 33, Pilot Officer D Robertson, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, 17/9/1951, aged 28. These gravestones have an arch missing from the usual headstones:-

Post-War Graves Dyce (War) Cemetery 2

War Graves, Dyce

In the churchyard at St Fergus’s Church (Old Dyce Parish Church) I found one war grave and a war dedication on another:-

Private J G Wilson, Gordon Highlanders, 24/9/1918, aged 19:-
War Grave, St Fergus's Churchyard, Dyce

Dedication to Gunner A Littlejohn, killed in action, 6/5/1917, aged 25:-

War Dedication St Fergus's Churchyard, Dyce

In the background to the photo above can be seen a Cross of Sacrifice. This is because over the wall from St Fergus’s Churchyard there is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery with more than enough graves (56 in this case) to be allowed one:-

Dyce (War) Cemetery

Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, Dyce

Commonwealth and Netherlands War Graves, Leuchars Cemetery, Fife

Leuchars is near St Andrews in Fife. No doubt because of the nearby airbase there are many war graves in this cemetery – sufficient for it to have a Cross of Sacrifice.

War Graves, Leuchars Cemetery

The three nearest graves on the left in the above photo are of Dutch nationals – Willem Hijkoop (left,) Anton Marie ten Herkel (centre,) C.A.F. van Otterloo (right.) Apparently 22 other Dutchmen’s bodies were transferred to Mill Hill cemetery in London:-

Netherlands War Graves, Leuchars Cemetery

The day we visited there was a Commonwealth War Graves Commission van at the cemetery with one of its employees tending to the graves. The Commission does a magnifcent job of upkeep on war graves in Britain and abroad.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Van, Leuchars Cemetery

Commonwealth War Graves Commission van, war graves and Cross of Sacrifice:-

War Graves, Leuchars Cemetery

Behind where this photo was taken is a First World War memorial bench:-

WW 1 Memorial Bench, Leuchars Cemetery

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

War Grave at St Andrews Cathedral

By the side of St Andrews Cathedral in St Andrews There is a cemetery. In March this year I noticed a Commonwealth War Graves here sign so popped in for a look

There was one war grave, of Great War Private S Findlay, Labour Corps, 9/8/1917, aged 36.

War Grave, St Andrews Cathedral

War Graves

I was sad to hear on the news today and read in the Guardian that the Imperial War Graves Commission* failed to ensure that African or Indian servicemen of the Empire in the Great War were accorded the same treatment in death as those from the UK and the Dominions.

I can’t say however that I was very surprised – a clue is in the name: Imperial War Graves Commission.

It’s no excuse for the behaviour of those in charge but the times were different and the attitudes of the powers that were were very unenlightened compared to those that I hope would apply now.

Again, there’s no excuse but it may have been a non-Western Front ruling. There are certainly individual graves of Maori soldiers at Birr Cross Roads Cemetery near Ypres. But New Zealand was of course a Dominion not a colony. (I also remember seeing somewhere a headstone for a Chinese member of the Labour Battalion but not which cemetery his grave was in.)

There are of course collective memorials to Nepalese and Indian soldiers at the Menin Gate as well as names of individual Burmese and Indian soldiers on the building itself.

However, it was and is deplorable that non-white servicemen were at any time not accorded the respect that was – and still is – their due.

*The name was later changed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

More Non-War Graves, Hawarden

Portland stone headstones but not usual Commonwealth War Graves Commission shape.

Squadron Leader M E Le Gallez, RAF, 22/4/1962, aged 41 – outwith wartime and Charles Arthur Coatman, 17/7/1942, Lands Officer, Air Ministry – wartime but not in military:-

Not War Graves? Hawarden

More non-war graves:-

Hawarden, Not War Graves?

But one of them, Sergeant J Lowe, RAF, has an inscription relating to the Battle of Britain. He died on 8/10/1973, aged 53:-

Not War Graves, Hawarden

Commonwealth War Graves, Hawarden, North Wales

Towards the bottom of the hill going down from St Deiniol’s Churchyard and bordering on Crosstree Lane are two collections of Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones. All commemorate World War 2, as I recall.

The first is a stitch of two photos to show the layout:-

War Graves in Hawarden, North Wales

The second lies beyond the lychgate seen in the first:-

War Graves, Hawarden

Not War Graves? Hawarden, North Wales

On the way downhill from St Deiniol’s Churchyard, Hawarden I spotted two graves that at first appeared to be of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission type. They were certainly made of Portland stone and had military insignia inscribed on them but their tops were more domed than is usual. Closer inspection revealed that the deaths commemorated lay outside the war years, leading to the thought that deaths in military service outwith wartime may be marked by this slightly different headstone.

Flight Lieutenant M M Restell-Little, RAF, 19/5/1933, aged 33, may still have been killed in service. Alternatively he succumbed to his wounds many years after they were inflicted:-

Not Quite a War Grave, Hawarden

Sergeant L Foster, RAF, 9/11/1948, aged 45. Below, “Dearest Wife, Ethel, died 23rd June 1988. (Related to the above thought, it is unusual for non-military personnel to be mentioned on a Commonwealth War Grave stone. In fact I think it may be prohibited. It’s not on the stone though, and the grave isn’t in a CWGC cemetery.):-

Post-War Grave, Hawarden

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