Commonwealth cemeteries

 

There are no less than 7 Commonwealth cemeteries situated in Langemark-Poelkapelle. They are all free to visit from sunrise to sunset:

Poelcapelle British Cemetery - Brugseweg - Poelkapelle (7,478 casualties)

Poelkapelle was captured by the Germans from the French on the 20th of October 1914. On the 4th  of October 1917 the 11th  Division managed to recapture the village during the 3rd Battle of Ypres. It was again surrendered by the British in April 1918 during the retreat to Ypres. Belgian troops finally recaptured it on 28th of  September 1918.

The town had several German military cemeteries. Near Poelcapelle British Cemetery were Poelcapelle East German Cemetery, laid out by the Germans, and Poelcapelle New German Cemetery, laid out by British Labour Corps teams after the war.

Poelcapelle British Cemetery was erected after the war from the concentration of scattered graves from the surrounding battlefields and from the clearing of small cemeteries which were brought here. The vast majority of casualties died in the second half of 1917, particularly in October, but there are also many graves with casualties from 1914 and 1915.

There are now 7.478 Commonwealth casualties from World War I commemorated. 6229 are unidentified.

Remarkable in the cemetery are two gravestones that stand side by side. One is the tombstone of Thomas Carthy who was the oldest casualty of his regiment. Next to him is John Condon buried with the inscription 'age 14'. He is known as the youngest casualty on the British side. However, recent research has shown that perhaps a mistake was made here and that Condon would be 18 years old. Also further on in this cemetery is the tombstone of Hugh Gordon Langton who died on 26 October 1917 at the age of 32 during the Passchendaele offensive. He was a very talented violinist. On his tombstone are 6 musical notes in a stave and this is the only grave of all the Commonwealth graves who has such a staff.. This grave can be found on the 2nd row of Special Memorials/3rd tombstone.

Cement House Cemetery - Boezingestraat - Langemark (3,615 casualties)

Cement House Cemetery is located one kilometre southwest of the village centre of Langemark, along the road to Pilkem and Boezinge. The cemetery was designed by Reginald Blomfield and measures approx. 9,685 square metres. The cemetery is a so-called "open cemetery", which means that it is still used to bury mortal remains found in the area today.

It commemorates 3,615 casualties 2,429 are not identified.

Around 21-24 October 1914, fighting took place around Langemark. From April 1915 to August 1917 the village remained in German hands. Slightly west of the Steenbeek was a farm where the Germans had built a fortified concrete construction, which the British called Cement House. In August 1917 there was again heavy fighting here during the Third Battle of Ypres. After a few days the British could take the bunker and then recapture Langemark. Next to the farm they started to build a cemetery, where more than 200 casualties were buried. They continued to use the cemetery until April 1918. After the war, the cemetery was expanded to include graves from the surrounding battlefields, from civilian cemeteries and smaller cemeteries that were cleared. Some of the cemeteries from which graves were brought here were Asquillies Churchyard, Audregnies Churchyard, Elverdinge Churchyard, Hensies Churchyard, Heule Churchyard, Maisières Communal Cemetery, Meerendre Churchyard, Oostnieuwkerke Churchyard, Proven Churchyard, Quaregnon Communal Cemetery, Rolleghem Churchyard, Winkel St. Eloi Churchyard and Thulin New Communal Cemetery. Three Special Memorials were also erected in the cemetery for those who had been buried at Pheasant Trench Cemetery, east of Langemark, but whose graves could no longer be found. Five British and three Newfoundlanders are also commemorated with Special Memorial because their graves could no longer be located and are believed to lie under unnamed tombstones.

Among the identified victims are 1,150 British, 28 Canadians, 4 Australians, 2 New Zealanders and 1 from South Africa.

In 1922, 487 French soldiers killed and buried here in 1917 were taken to the French military cemetery of Saint Charles De Potyze.

At the cemetery 22 casualties from the Second World War (including 5 unidentified) were also buried. Most died during the fighting against the advancing German army and during its withdrawal to Dunkirk.

The cemetery remains in use for newly excavated mortal remains. At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, dozens of bodies of British dead were buried here.

Ruisseau Farm Cemetery - Melkerijstraat - Langemark (82 casualties)

This cemetery is located about one and a half kilometres west of Langemark and can be reached by crossing the backyard of a farm. It was designed by William Cowlishaw and covers an area of 486 square metres.

It commemorates 82 British casualties, 6 could not be identified.

The cemetery was established after the fighting of 8 October 1917 and remained in use by artillery units until the end of November 1917. Of the 82 dead, 30 belong to the Foot Guards and 28 to the Royal Artillery.

St-Julien Dressing Station Cemetery - Peperstraat - St. Julian (428 casualties)

This cemetery is located 3 km southeast of the Grand Place of Langemark-Poelkapelle and was designed by Reginald Blomfield. It has a heptagonal ground plan with a surface area of 2,173 m².

It commemorates 428 casualties, 180 are unidentified.

Saint Julian was at the front of the Ypres arch during the war. From autumn 1914 to April 1915 it was in British hands but shortly after the German gas attacks it fell into German hands at the Second Battle of Ypres. At the beginning of August 1917 the village was recaptured at the Third Battle of Ypres. At the end of April 1918 it fell back into German hands during the German Spring Offensive until it was finally recaptured by Belgian troops on the 28th of  September.

In September 1917 work had begun on the cemetery, where casualties were buried until March 1918. Originally there were 203 casualties.. The cemetery was severely damaged by artillery fire in 1918. After the armistice, the cemetery was expanded to include graves from the surrounding area.

There are 395 British, 15 Canadians, 10 Australians, 3 New Zealanders and 5 South Africans buried here. Special Memorial are erected for 9 British and 2 South Africans because their graves could no longer be located. It is assumed that they lie under the nameless graves.

Seaforth Cemetery (Cheddar Villa) - Brugseweg - St Julian (149 casualties)

This cemetery is located along the Brugseweg 1.3 km southwest of the village centre of Saint Julian. It was designed by William Cowlishaw and measures 1,008 square metre; . It commemorates 149 casualties.

Along the road from Wieljte to Sint-Juliaan stood a farm that was called "Cheddar Villa" by the British troops. This was also the original name of this cemetery. But in April 1915, during the Second Battle of Ypres, there was heavy fighting in this area after which the dead were buried here. Because 101 of the 148 casualties belonged to the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders the name was changed to Seaforth Cemetery at the request of the commanding officer in 1922.

There are 149 British (including 22 unidentified) and 1 Canadian buried. Special Memorials were established for 19 soldiers because their graves were destroyed by artillery fire.

Exceptional for a British cemetery are two mass graves with respectively 18 and 75 casualties. Their gravestones are arranged along the left and right walls and they are commemorated with two Duhalow Blocks.23 names of members of the Seaforth Highlanders who died here but who are not known where they are buried can be found on a memorial plaque at the rear of the cemetery. Their names are also on the Menin Gate.

Dochy Farm New British Cemetery - Zonnebekestraat - St Julian 1,439 casualties)

This cemetery is located between Sint-Juliaan and Zonnebeke, was designed by Reginald Blomfield and is approximately 4,525 square metre.

It commemorates 1,439 soldiers, 958 could not be identified.

This place was occupied by the Germans for a long time during the war. Nearby was a farm which the Germans built into a fortification and was called "Dochy Farm" by the British. On the 4th of October 1917 the 4th New Zealand Brigade succeeded in conquering this farm during the fighting for Broodseinde .

Because of the central location and easy access, the cemetery was built here after the war. Soldiers were buried here who were scattered in the surrounding battlefields around Boezinge, Sint-Juliaan, Frezenberg en Passchendaele. Now there are 936 British, 305 Australians, 83 Canadians, 98 New Zealanders and 17 South Africans resting here. Special Memorials were established for 1 British and 1 Australian because their graves were no longer found and it is assumed that they lie under an unnamed grave.

Bridge House Cemetery - Peperstraat - St Julian (45 casualties)

This cemetery is located one kilometre south of St Julian and was designed by Arthur Hutton and measures 196 square metres.

It was laid out at the end of September 1917 by the 59th (North Midland) Division and was named after a farm near a bridge over the Steenbeek. This farm was used by a number of units as a medical post. With the exception of 5 graves, all casualties belong to the North Midland Division whose soldiers were killed between 26 and 28 September 1917 during the battle of Ploygon Wood. One casualty (W. Baker) fell on 16 August 1917.

There are 45 British soldiers, including 4 unidentified.