Showing posts with label Clapham Junction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clapham Junction. Show all posts


Menen German Military Cemetery
The Menen German war cemetery is a military cemetery in the Belgian town of Menen territory and partly in Wevelgem. 47, 864 German soldiers lie within,  making it the largest in Flanders. In between are several crosses and oak and chestnut trees. In the centre is an octagonal memorial chapel.  The original cemetery was created in 1917. Between 1956-1958, there were 128 small German military cemeteries scattered across Flanders consolidated to four. The remains of the cemeteries were transferred to the cemeteries of Langemark, Vladslo, Hooglede and Menen. Menen casualties came from 53 small cemeteries. The German architect R. Tischler designed the octagonal mausoleum and a reception building. Around the chapel are eight tombstones, bearing the names and locations of the 53 cemeteries, from where the fallen were transferred. The grave stones were restored in 1991.
The room inside allows you to see the books that have details of the soldiers lying here.

Inside the Chapel.

Nearly twenty to a grave.
The oaks appear to threaten those resting below.

Birr Cross Roads CWGC

Three km east of Ypres with the graves of five hundred soldiers.
Among them is that of Captain Ackroyd, VC, MC, whose citation (4th September 1917) reads:
For most conspicuous bravery. During recent operations Capt Ackroyd displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty. Utterly regardless of danger, he worked continuously for many hours up and down and in front of the line tending the wounded and saving the lives of officers and men. In so doing he had to move across the open under heavy machine gun, rifle and shell fire. On another occasion he went some way in front of our advanced line and brought in a wounded man under continuous sniping and machine gun fire. His heroism was the means of saving many lives, and provided a magnificent example of courage, cheerfulness and determination to the fighting men in whose midst he was carrying out his splendid work. This gallant officer has since been killed in action.
In fact, he had already distinguished himself for bravey a year before before on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme at Montauban and also later at Delville Wood for which he was awarded the Military Cross.
The son of Sir Oliver Lodge, who would write the book Raymond or Life and Death: With Examples of the Evidence for Survival of Memory and Affection after Death. Believing “that there is no real breach of continuity between the dead and the living” the book was written to provide an account of the supposedly successful attempts to contact Raymond through mediums in the months following his death.
The true identity under this stone still remains in question.


German flamethrower used at Hooge, 30 July 1915, and the subsequent British charge at Hooge, recapturing trenches lost to flamethrowers

Hooge Crater CWGC

The site in 1919 and ninety years later.

You can see as you enter the cemetery the altar within its symbolic crater.
The cemetery is four km east of Ypres in a small village in Flanders that had been the site of a château used as the Divisional Headquarters for the area. The staff at the château, from the 1st and 2nd Divisions, were all killed when the château was shelled on 31 October 1914.

The crater in the cemetery's name refers to was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division on July 30, 1915. The château and the crater (craters being strategically important in relatively flat countryside) were taken by the British 6th Division on 9 August. It was reclaimed by the Germans on 16 June 1916 and retaken by the British on 31 July 1917 when the 8th Division managed to push past it by about a mile. The Germans retook the site in April 1918 as part of the Spring Offensive but were expelled from the area by the British on 28 September as the Offensive faltered. During this time, the château was completely destroyed along with the entire village; several large craters from underground mines were blown over the course of the 1917 fighting. German forces attacked the château between 24 May and 3 June 1915, and, despite the detonation of a British mine by the 3rd Division, leaving a massive crater, took control of the château and the surrounding area on 30 July.

In 1920 and today. The cemetery was started in October 1917 by the 7th Division and today holds 2344 graves.
Among the dead is Private Patrick Bugden, awarded posthumously the VC for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when on two occasions our advance was temporarily held up by strongly defended "pill-boxes".
Pte. Bugden, in the face of devastating fire from machine guns, gallantly led small parties to attack these strong points and, successfully silencing the machine guns with bombs, captured the garrison at the point of the bayonet. On another occasion, when a Corporal, who had become detached from his company, had been captured and was being taken to the rear by the enemy, Pte. Bugden, single-handed, rushed to the rescue of his comrade, shot one enemy and bayoneted the remaining two, thus releasing the Corporal. On five occasions he rescued wounded men under intense shell and machine gun fire, showing an utter contempt and disregard for danger. Always foremost in volunteering for any dangerous mission, it was during the execution of one of these missions that this gallant soldier was killed.

  Further down the Meenseweg (Menin Road) is this memorial to the King's Royal Rifle Corps.

Further east towards Menim is the Gloucestershire Memorial at Clapham Junction

Clapham Junction was the name given to this site in the Ypres Salient due to the numerous roads meeting here. This is one of two memorials located here to the Gloucestershire 1st and 2nd Battalions which fought in the First and Second Battles of Ypres.

50th Northumbrian Division Memorial
This monument on "Oxford Road" near the is to the 50th Division which was established in the north-east of England and sent to the Western Front in April 1915 where it quickly saw action during the Second Battle of Ypres. It helped smash the Hindenburg Line in October 1918. It is inscribed: "To the enduring memory of all ranks of the 50th Northumbrian Division who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 and in memory of their comrades of the same Division who gave their lives in the War of 1939-1945 for the Liberation of France, Belgium and Holland". This indicates that the memorial was later altered as shown in the bottom photo to include a note reflecting the division's heroics in the Second World War. Behind the memorial are barely visible two lines of bunkers and emplacements that made up the line of the Cambrai Redoubt.

RE Grave Railway Wood
Between the wars and today
RE Grave Railway Wood CWGC is unusual for being both a cemetery and a memorial; additionally, it has no gravestones, choosing instead to commemorate the men who died on the Cross of Sacrifice itself.The original memorial was a wooden cross marking where eight Royal Engineers of the 177th Tunnelling Company and four infantrymen working with them were killed in action underground during the defence of Ypres between November 1915 and August 1917 and whose bodies remain in situ. The inscription reads:
Beneath this spot lie the bodies of an officer, three NCOs and eight men of or attached to the / 177th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers / who were killed in action underground during the defence of Ypres between November 1915 and August 1917.
Liverpool Scottish Memorial
A little further along the track towards Bellewaarde Farm is the Liverpool Scottish Memorial which had been erected in July 2000 and is clearly visible just inside the woodland when viewing Bellewaarde Ridge from R.E. Grave as can be seen in the photo below:
Commemorating the June 16, 1915 Battle of Hooge (known officially as the 'First Action at Bellewaarde')

'Of 23 officers and 519 other ranks who went into action, only two officers .... and 140 men came through untouched'. Four officers and 75 other ranks were killed; 11 officers and 201 other ranks were wounded and 6 officers and 103 other ranks were reported as missing (almost all of whom were subsequently reported as killed).' (From The Liverpool Scottish 1900 -1919 by Lt. Col A.M. McGilchrist published by Henry Young and Sons 1930)

The action involved the 9th Brigade (of which the Liverpool Scottish was part) and the 7th Brigade, both of the 3rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force. The objective was the German trenches on top of Bellewaarde Ridge about 4km east of Ieper/Ypres just north of the Menin Road

The stone was the keystone above the entrance at the Fraser St (Liverpool) Barracks of the Liverpool Scottish and shows the badge of the 10th (Scottish) Bn, The King's (Liverpool Regiment) with a piece of ropework decoration above it. Most of the Fraser St. building was demolished and in 1978 the stone was relocated outside the new HQ in Childwall in Liverpool (Forbes House) where it was set in a brickwork plinth about five feet high and seven feet across . The stone itself is about four feet high and wedge-shaped. When Forbes House closed in 1999 it was offered to Ypres.

The photograph above was taken by Private Fyfe of the Liverpool Scottish, a press photographer by profession, lying wounded on the German front line. An artillery observation party (an officer and his signaller) can be seen going forward . The banner that can be seen on the right hand side is to indicate the progress of the attacking troops to the friendly artillery so that supporting fire may be lifted and moved on. Wounded men are lying in the foreground and a shell is exploding in Railway Wood.
Nearby I found four grenades and assorted war debris.

18th Division Memorial at Clapham Junction
The second memorial at Clapham Junction to the 18th Division which saw action here in 1917 during the Third battle of Ypres.

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Memorial
This monument, unveiled in 1985, commemorates the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry which, in May 1915, suffered under heavy fire here during the Second battle of Ypres. Only four officers and 150 soldiers escaped the battle unhurt. If you look at the centre of the monument you can see flowers that look rather ill-suited; originally the spaces was to be taken by a maple tree which wouldn't grow and had to be relegated to the back of the monument.

Polygon Wood
Polygon Wood is a forest located between Ypres and Zonnebeke and was a significant Great War battlefield in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the "Battle for Passchendaele". It was captured by the Australian 5th Division on September 26, 1917 during the Battle of Menin Road.

The area in September, 1917

Polygon Wood CWGC
Polygon Wood CWGC is about five miles east of Ypres on the Lange Dreve, a road connecting Ypres to Menen. The cemetery contains 103 Commonwealth burials of the Great 17 of them unidentified. 60 of those buried here served with the New Zealand forces. There is also one German grave. A walled avenue leads here, past the Cross of Sacrifice, to the Buttes New British Cemetery. Polygon Wood is a large wood south of Zonnebeke which was completely devastated in the First World War. The wood was cleared by Commonwealth troops at the end of October 1914, given up on 3 May 1915, taken again at the end of September 1917 by Australian troops, evacuated in the Battles of the Lys, and finally retaken by the 9th (Scottish) Division on 28 September 1918. On the Butte itself is the Battle Memorial of the 5th Australian Division, who captured it on 26 September 1917. A walled avenue leads from Polygon Wood Cemetery, past the Cross of Sacrifice, to this cemetery made up of dead brought in from the battlefields of Zonnebeke. There are now 2,108 Commonwealth servicemen of the Great War buried or commemorated, 1,677 of whom remain unidentified.

5th Australian Division Memorial
The entrance leading into the wood which had been completely destroyed during the war. The steps lead to the top of the Butte upon which stands the Australian Memorial.
 The hill after the war dotted with the graves of soldiers
 The monument looking over Buttes New British Cemetery
Between the wars and today

To its right is Buttes New British Cemetery with its 2,103 graves (only 428 of which are identified) where one finds the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing:

Inscribed on one of the graves of an Australian lieutenant is
I am all right, mother. Cheerio.
Apparently it came from the last letter home...

St. Julien

The road between Ypres and St. Julien
The village of St. Julien was taken by the Germans on April 24, 1915 after the first use of poison gas against Canadians at the 2nd Battle of Ypres. By July 1917 the German lines of blockhouses had been completed which provided the only stable areas of resistance when thunderstorms and the allied bombardments rendered the area a putrid, yellowish sinking morass. It was finally taken on August 3 by the 39th Division at the cost of 145 officers and 3,716 other casualties.

St. Julien Dressing Station CWGC
Just off a small road leading off to the right from the main road, within the village itself is this cemetery of 420 graves.

St. Juliaan Monument (The Brooding Soldier)

The shaded area shows the German gains as a result of the first great gas attack, April 24, 1916, at the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Shortly after being unveiled on July the 9th, 1923 by the Duke of Connaught, with Marshal Foch, the Earl of Ypres (Sir John French) and the Canadian High Commissioner in attendance. Foch, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies, said in tribute: "The Canadians paid heavily for their sacrifice and the corner of earth on which this Memorial of gratitude and piety rises has been bathed in their blood. They wrote here the first page in that Book of Glory which is the history of their participation in the war."
On the main road from Ypres to Bruges, this most impressive Memorial at St. Julien commemorates the "18,000 Canadians on the British left [who] withstood the first German gas attacks on the 22-24 April 1915. 2,000 fell and lie buried nearby." This had been the first gas attack of the Great War. "The Brooding Soldier" is almost 11 metres high and displays the bowed head and shoulders of a Canadian soldier in the position of "rest on your arms reversed."
 The statue is set in the middle of a garden surrounded by tall cedars, which are kept trimmed to mimic shellfire.
Until 1988 this plaque misleadingly read "2,000 fell and here lie buried" when they in fact lie in the cemeteries scattered outside this park.

Henshaw Memorial
Going back on the road and turning left on what had been dubbed "Winnipeg Avenue," a vital position in 1915 and 1917, is the following private memorial:

In memory of
Buckinghamhire Battallion OX
Bucks Light Infantry
who was wounded in
Battle Langemark August 16th 1917.
He lay wounded on
these field for six days.
He was found on August 22nd, 1917.
He was moved to Casualty Clearing
Station 61, Dozinghem near Proven
He died of his wounds on 23rd 1917.
Aged 30 years.
He is buried at Dozinghem
Military Cemetery.
Lovingly remembered by all his family.
Seaforth (Cheddar Villa) CWGC
On the main road south-west of St. Julien is Seaforth Cemetery. It was originally known as Cheddar Villa, the name given to a farm on the west side of the road. The soldiers buried here for the most part died during the fighting here on the 25th and 26th of April 1915. , during the battle of St. Julien there was severe fighting here. In 1922 the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders asked that the cemetery change its name to mark the fact that so many men from that battalion lie here. Of those 150 who do so, 21 are unknown and 19 had graves later destroyed during the fighting.
Going along the road a short ways is Cheddar Villa farm itself, still there.

Bridge House CWGC
Just south of St. Julien and named after a nearby farmhouse, this tiny cemetery of 45 graves consists mainly of men from the 59th (North Midland) Division who died in the Battle of Polygon Wood 1917.

's-Graventafel New Zealand Memorial

Heading towards the New Zealand Monument on the left is the remains of this German dugout.
Signposts to hell- the left directing one to Langemark, the other to Passchendaele.
This memorial was unveiled by the New Zealand High Commissioner in London, Sir James Allen, on August 2, 1924 and honours the New Zealand contribution at Passchendaele in 1917 referring specifically to the October 4, 1917 Battle of Broodseinde. On October 12, within two hours over 2,800 New Zealand soldiers were killed, wounded or listed as missing - the most disastrous day in New Zealand’s military history. Given that New Zealand’s population at that time was only around one million, this was a huge number and possibly goes some way to explain why New Zealand alone chose its own memorial rather than have its missing commemorated with those from the other Dominions on the Menin Gate.
The memorials here and at Messines and Longueval are obelisks of Nebrasina stone from Italy with the inscription ‘From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth’ on a plinth at their base as well as a badge incorporating a fern leaf superimposed on crossed taiaha with a frame of Maori carving.
VCDF Air Marshall David Bamfield and Captain Matthew Jahnke laying wreaths at the memorial on July 13, 2007.

The area in September, 1917
 June 7, 1917 and September 14 that same year

William Orpen's Zonnebeke (1918) at the Tate in London.

Yprestraat then and now
Dochy Farm New British CWGC
The cemetery is about five miles north-east of Ypres on the Zonnebekestraat connecting Ypres to Zonnebeke.
Formerly the site of a German strong-point taken by 4th New Zealand Brigade on October 4, 1917, there are 1,439 buried here of whom 958 remain unidentified.

Scottish Monument
After 90 years the Scots who fought in the Salient have a very moving and worthy monument. The words from the Declaration of Arbroath transcend their original meaning and are a fitting tribute.

June 15, October 10, and October 30, 1917
Positions in December, 1917
The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, was one of the major battles of the Great War, in which British, Canadian, South African, French and ANZAC units engaged the Imperial German Army.

The attack served several strategic purposes. A successful attack offered the British chance of inflicting significant casualties on the German army whilst breakthrough into Flanders and thus hinder the German submarine campaign against British shipping whilst also helping prevent German bombers from attacking targets in Britain. It would prevent too the German Army from exploiting the serious morale problems of the French.

During the battle, British troops launched several massive attacks, heavily supported by artillery. However, they never managed to make a breakthrough in well-entrenched German lines. The battle consisted of a series of 'Bite and Hold' attacks to capture critical terrain and wear down the German army, lasting until the Canadian Corps took Passchendaele on 6 November 1917, ending the battle.

Passchendaele has become synonymous with the misery of fighting in thick mud. Most of the battle took place on reclaimed marshland, swampy even without rain. 1917 had an unusually cold and wet summer, and heavy artillery bombardment tore up the surface of the land. Though there were dry periods, mud nevertheless feature of the landscape; newly-developed tanks bogged down in mud, and soldiers drowned in it.

The battle is a subject of fierce debate among historians, particularly in Britain. The volume of the British Official History of the War which covered Passchendaele was the last to be published, and there is evidence it was biased to reflect well on Douglas Haig and badly on General Gough, the commander of the Fifth Army. The heavy casualties suffered by the British Army in return for slender territorial gains have led many historians to follow the example of David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of the time, and use it as an example of senseless waste and poor generalship. The revisionist school of thought (such as Terraine, p.336-342 and Travers, p.xxi) emphasise the achievements of the British Army in the battle by inflicting great damage on the German Army, relieving pressure on the distressed French, and developing offensive tactics capable of dealing with German defensive positions, which were significant in winning the war in 1918.

Casualty figures for the battle are still a matter of some controversy. Some accounts suggest that the Allies suffered significantly heavier losses than the Germans, while others offer an even score. However, no-one disputes that hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed or crippled.
Passchendaele New British Cemetery
As I cycled towards Passchendaele, the village's CWGC was seen on the left. Of the 2101 buried here, 3/4 are unidentified.

Between the wars and today.
Right outside the cemetery is the last of the Albertina markers the Belgians erected to mark the passing of King Albert I. This one states "Ein defensiv Passendale 28th September 1918", and marks the end of the last Passchendaele offensive towards the end of the War.
The road to Passchendaele... and Passchendaele during the Great War. The church had stood on the mound in the background.
 The church during the war and its present incarnation
Inside the church are three stained-glass windows in honour of the 66th Division. There are three windows. The left states "1914" at the bottom, with the names and shields of several northern towns above, including Bury, Accrington, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan. The larger central window states "66th Division, British Expeditionary Force, In Memoriam" Above St George is pictured, and further up a shield with three lions representing the Duchy of Lancaster. The shields and names of Manchester and Salford are towards the top. The right window states "1918" and has more shields, of Padiham, Bacup, Todmorden and others.
The memorial is situated south of the village at the end of a street called Canadalaan on Crest Hill. It had been a fortified farm on high ground on the line of the final offensive to take the village and the memorial commemorates the attack here made by the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions on November 6.
Following the victory at Vimy, the Canadians had continued operations in the Arras area to divert attention from the French front and to conceal from the Germans the planned offensive in Flanders. In the Battle of Hill 70 which ran from 15 to 25 August 1917, Canadian forces captured this strategic position on the northern approach to the city of Lens and secured the western part of the city. The fighting here cost the Canadian Corps 9,198 casualties. However, considerable ground was gained and the battle hampered enemy plans to send fresh troops to Flanders. To the south the French offensive in Lorraine under General Nivelle was proving to be an unmitigated disaster and with losses in the neighbourhood of 200,000 men, it precipitated a wave of mutinies that paralyzed the French army for months. In July, the British commander Sir Douglas Haig launched his drive in Flanders designed to break through the front and capture the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast. The offensive had had a successful prelude at Messines in June, but this local success was followed by weeks of delay. The second and main stage of the attack got under way with a tremendous artillery barrage that not only forewarned the Germans, but also ground the battlefield into potholes and dust. Summer rains poured down on the very night that the offensive began and in no time the area became an impassable swamp. As the British soldiers struggled in the morass, the Germans inflicted frightful casualties from lines fortified with machine guns placed in concrete pill boxes. In the next four months at Ypres only negligible advances were made. Early in October, although the main objectives were still in German hands and the British forces were reaching the point of exhaustion, Haig determined on one more drive. The Canadian Corps was ordered to relieve the decimated Anzac forces in the Ypres sector and prepare for the capture of Passchendaele. General Currie inspected the muddy battlefield and protested that the operation was impossible without heavy cost. He was overruled and so began careful and painstaking preparations for the assault. In a series of attacks beginning on 26 October, 20,000 men under heavy fire inched their way from shell-crater to shell-crater. Then on 30 October, with two British divisions, the Canadians began the assault on Passchendale itself. They gained the ruined outskirts of the village during a violent rainstorm and for five days they held on grimly, often waist-deep in mud and exposed to a hail of jagged iron from German shelling. On 6 November, when reinforcements arrived, four-fifths of the attackers were dead. Currie's estimate of 16,000 casualties proved frighteningly accurate. Passchendaele had become a Canadian Calvary. The award of no fewer than nine Victoria Crosses testified to the heroic determination and skill with which Canadian soldiers played their part in the bitter struggle for Passchendaele. This memorial stands where Canadian soldiers encountered some of the fiercest resistance they were to meet during the war. A large block of Canadian granite set in a grove of maple trees and encircled with a low hedge of holly carries the inscription
The Canadian Corps in Oct-Nov. 1917 advanced across this valley-then a treacherous morass-captured and held the Passchendaele Ridge
Looking along Canadalaan towards the church.

To the south just outside the village is
Tyne Cot CWGC
Tyne Cot is the largest CWGC Cemetery in the world with 11,953 either buried here or whose graves had been destroyed given that fighting continued throughout and the Germans retook the ground and held it between 13 April to 28 September 1918. As a result, nearly 70% of the bodies lie in unidentified graves.

In 1924
The entrance in the 1930s and today

Between the wars and today; note some of the crosses still have yet to be standardised.

When I visited it hosted a group of Canadians and British schoolchildren.
Among these graves is that of Second-Lieutenant Arthur Conway Young, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers, killed on August 16, 1917, at the age of 26. He was, says the inscription, "sacrificed to the fallacy that war can end war". He had actually been born in Kobe, Japan and was the son of the editor of the "Japan Chronicle."
Another inscription for Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries VC, 34th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Forces reads
One of the three visible German pillboxes within the cemetery captured by Australian divisions on October 4 1917.
A fourth forms the base of the Cross of Remembrance, at the suggestion of King George V; you can see the wall at the base in the photo. The inscription reads"
Paying my respects at the grave of James Peter Robertson, VC, a private in the 27th Battalion (of my hometown, Winnipeg), Canadian Expeditionary Force who died on 6 November 1917 in the final phase of the Battle of Passchendaele. As his platoon was being held up by a machine-gun, Private Robertson rushed the gun, killed four of the crew and then turned the gun on the remainder. After inflicting more casualties and carrying the captured gun, he led his platoon to the final position and got the gun into action, firing on the retreating enemy. During the consolidation his use of the machine-gun kept down the enemy sniper fire. Later when two of the snipers on his own side were wounded, he went out and carried one of them in under heavy fire but he was killed just as he returned with the second man.
The grave of another VC from the other side of the world-  Lewis McGee, a sergeant in the Australian Imperial Force- awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Battle of Broodseinde as part of the Passchendaele offensive on October 4, 1917. Other VCs from Australia, Joseph Maxwell and John Patrick Hamilton, are shown visiting his grave in 1956.
From the citation for his Victoria Cross in the November 26 1917 London Gazette:
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer, Non-commissioned Officers and Men: —
No. 456 Sjt. Lewis McGee, late Aus. Imp. Force.
For most conspicuous bravery when in the advance to the final objective, Sjt. McGee led his platoon with great dash and bravery, though strongly opposed, and under heavy shell fire.
His platoon was suffering severely and the advance of the Company was stopped by machine gun fire from a "Pill-box" post. Single-handed Sjt. McGee rushed the post armed only with a revolver. He shot some of the crew and captured the rest, and thus enabled the advance to proceed. He reorganised the remnants of his platoon and was foremost in the remainder of the advance, and during consolidation of the position he did splendid work.
This Non-commissioned Officer's coolness and bravery were conspicuous and contributed largely to the success of the Company's operations.
Sjt. McGee was subsequently killed in action.
Monument honouring the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders south of Passchendaele "in memory of the gallant comrades who gave their lives in the operation before Passchendaele at Decline Copse and Vienna Cottage October 28th to 31st 1917" with the names of those killed.